Is it just me, or does it seem like every time one social media service comes up with a cool feature, it’s only a matter of time before every other site copies it, and there are no cool new features left? This time, Facebook is copying Twitter (yet again) and YouTube is copying Facebook.
YouTube’s latest feature will suggest friends in a “People you may know” box on the homepage (just like Facebook! *fake surprise*). The official blog announcement says that the friend suggestions will come from email addresses you’ve sent videos to (using YouTube’s email feature, not just your email account)—and your Gmail contacts, if your Gmail and YouTube accounts are linked.
Great. We just loved it when you did this in Gmail, and then Google Reader, but now you’re sharing the email addresses of anyone I’ve ever contacted with the rest of your services? How many times do I have to tell you that an email does not a relationship make? (Note you can opt out of allowing anyone with your email address from friending you in your YouTube privacy settings.)
Facebook’s not going to lay down and take this plagiarism. Oh no. They’re going to copy one of the most popular features on Twitter (since they’ve already co-opted the status updates and streamlined their interface to show only the updates)—@ tagging.
Tagging photos, videos, and notes has long been a popular feature of Facebook. But the new system uses the @ sign, popularized as a way of mentioning friends by Twitter, to make tagging even easier:
Now, when you are writing a status update and want to add a friend’s name to something you are posting, just include the “@” symbol beforehand. As you type the name of what you would like to reference, a drop-down menu will appear that allows you to choose from your list of friends and other connections, including groups, events, applications and Pages. Soon, you’ll be able to tag friends from applications as well. The “@” symbol will not be displayed in the published status update or post after you’ve added your tags.
So it’s not just like Twitter’s system—but come on, where do you think they got this idea?
Facebook says the new feature is rolling out over the next couple weeks and will eventually work into applications, too. As with other tags, you can untag yourself from others’ posts.
What do you think? Is Facebook (and YouTube) ripping off Twitter (and Facebook)? Of is this kind of copycatting expected with innovation?