Why I prefer Twitter to Facebook

No, it’s not the numerous privacy issues, though those don’t help. It comes down to one thing: being able to say “no”.

They’re both basically the same thing, in terms of information consumption: You and all your friends and acquaintances post small updates about your life that are aggregated into a larger list that makes it easy to keep up-to-date on what’s going on. But because of how those lists are built, there’s a huge difference in quality.

Twitter is a public feed of information. Anyone can “follow” a Twitter feed, and there’s no big value judgement in doing or not doing so. You may follow a Twitter feed because it’s a company that gives out hints on upcoming games or deals, or because it’s your best friend’s Twitter feed and you want to keep up to date on their life. Or heck, maybe you don’t follow your best friend’s Twitter feed, because all they post is pictures of their dog, and you’re not into that. And that’s no biggie. Nobody really gets offended here.

But on Facebook, if you don’t want to see that constant stream of dog pictures, you’re SOL. If you want to get rid of that stream, or avoid seeing it at all, you have to “de-friend” that person, or never “friend” them at all. And that’s a value judgement. That causes hurt feelings.

As a result, I have on my Facebook a bunch of people I barely remember or barely get along with, or can barely understand (my francophone cousin, for example). I have no desire to upset these people by “de-friending” them, but my Facebook feed is awash with bad poetry, advertisements for games and bands I care nothing about, and foreign language. To me, it’s almost entirely useless, because I can’t say “no” without making a social judgement call on people.

Also, the ability to say “yes”

The other benefit of Twitter is that since it is a public feed of information that anyone can follow, I can keep up with some genuinely cool people that would never add me as a “friend” on Facebook. People like:

  • John Romero @theromero (Creative genius behind ID studios during Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake.)
  • Markus Persson @notch (Creator of Minecraft.)
  • Edward James Olmos @edwardjolmos (Admiral Frakkin’ Adama. Also, he followed me back!)
  • Adam Savage @donttrythis (From Mythbusters.)
  • John Carmack @ID_AA_Carmack (Technical genius behind ID studios to this day.)
  • Sean Plott @day9tv (Day9 – does nightly live webcasts about Starcraft 2.)
  • Yahtzee Croshaw @YahtzeeCroshaw (Author and Zero Punctuation creator.)
  • Faye Whitaker @fayewhitaker (Fictional character from one of my fave webcomics.)
  • Wil Wheaton @wilw (If you do not know this man, you are on the wrong weblog.)

And more!

My Twitter feed is so much more useful than my Facebook feed, it’s embarrassing.


Also, apparently Facebook filters your friends feed, in an attempt to get you “more relevant” information.


a) It freaking fails. My Facebook feed is about the least relevant thing on the internet, and
b) I don’t *want* my feeds automatically and magically filtered by some third-party algorithm. I want to manually ensure that I have high-quality content in there in the first place. You know, like I can do on Twitter.

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  • Geoff



    A) You’re a power user… Automatic filtering is obviously intended for the masses who don’t want to have to make such decisions or know that they are being made.

    B) Doesn’t facebook have a little X thing next to every item on your feed that you can use to tell it not to show updates from certain people? I think there are options besides defriending or dealing with dog picture spam (even if the UI for doing so is poor).

    C) A lot fewer people have twitter feeds than have facebook pages. For keeping tabs on old friends or acquiantances who I don’t see much or actually talk to on a regular basis, twitter if useless but facebook is invaluable. If you don’t care to do this, or your old friends are a more twitter-friendly group, this may not apply, though.

    D) Twitter updates are default public, and facebook updates are default private unless a friend is explicitly allowed. This means people are much more likely to post semi-private information or pictures on a facebook page, so only having twitter would limit the types of updates you could view. As in C though, this somewhat a matter of what type of updates you’re following / reading feeds about people for…

  • Sue Hulton

    Sue HultonSue Hulton


    well I am a little disappointed apparently you have time to blog and twitter but I’m still waiting for my email from 2 days ago and what about facebook and your cute nephews pictures I’m sure you like that and that foreign language is part of your heritage so to each there own but really you should be happy to be able to keep incontact with at least your family who love you. Love Mom
    PS I know what you mean about facebook I’m just pulling your chain LOL