Guest Column: Facebook validation can’t topple Twitter

Alexandra Pittman

For two years, Twitter has allowed users into the minds of high-ranking celebrities with its validation software as it verifies the sources of celebrity tweets. Now, Facebook is trying to replicate this feat.

Facebook is currently testing its own validation software with the hope of verifying celebrities on their site with the use of a government ID submission, according to AFP. With this updated version to the website’s “subscribe” feature, Facebook seems to be focusing on stealing away Twitter followers.

But what Facebook doesn’t realize is that Twitter really cannot be replicated. Back in November, Dave Smith of the International Business Times commented that while “Facebook is driven by real people, Twitter is driven by celebrities and brands.” Though I understand why Facebook would want to tap into this market that Twitter has so effectively implemented, the barriers instituted for both celebrities and their subscribers through Facebook are just too high.

Within this update, Facebook requires celebrities to register under their own names, so fans of Lady Gaga will instead have to search for her real name, Stefani Germanotta, according to the Daily Mail. Fans will subsequently have to subscribe to her page first before they are allowed access to any of her updates or information, and subscription usually just means more spam. Twitter, on the other hand, advertises an easy way to keep up with your favorite celebrities without hassle, without spam and with easy access, and it is this feature that will mark Facebook’s venture as one eventually doomed.

The process Facebook will undergo in order to verify and authenticate celebrities, by forcing them to sign up with a government-issued form of identification, will probably be more effective than Twitter’s secretive verification process. Usually, it may take a few tries to weed through the similar Twitter account names before you can find that “real” celebrity. With its 175 million users, it must be harder for Twitter to effectively verify the identity of every Twitter account, and when asked last March about its process, Twitter simply commented that “we continue to very selectively verify accounts most at risk for impersonation on a one-off and highly irregular basis,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

It comes down to the simple fact that we as a society steep ourselves in routine. If I want to find out more about a celebrity’s personal life, I’m not going to log on to my Facebook account and subscribe to their page. I’m going to follow them on Twitter, where they can give me a updates each day on the most recent information in their lives. While Facebook will spam me with messages on latest updates, I can choose on Twitter whether or not I want to look at certain tweets, and it is this sense of control that gives Twitter its edge.

It’s a matter of society sticking to its trends. Facebook was originally set up for social networking through friends, family and old acquaintances. Twitter’s purpose was broader, allowing users to connect with their idols, role models and people who they can meet only in their dreams.

Facebook seems to be behind the curve in terms of breaking into this “celebrity market.” Google Plus was already verifying celebrity users’ accounts back in August, but there hasn’t been any major change or switch to start using Google Plus more to follow celebrities.

Facebook should stick to what it originally started for – reconnecting with you with those you know personally. Facebook should be trying to build onto this reputation through features like its Timeline application instead of trying to simply siphon off a few Twitter users.

Central Florida Future, U. Central Florida via UWIRE.