Facebook Moves Further Into Twitter Territory

    June 9, 2009
    Chris Crum

Facebook is now offering its users the ability to receive their friends’ status updates via text message on their phones. If you click on the "subscribe via SMS" link below your friends’ profile pics, you get their latest updates this way.

Sound familiar? That’s probably because you can do basically the same thing with Twitter. This is just the latest example of Facebook acknowleging (without coming right out and saying it) that they view Twitter as a major competitor. If this wasn’t evident enough upon the last major redesign change, which switched to a Twitter-esque real-time status feed, it’s even more clear now.

Look familiar?

Facebook is certainly the dominant force in social networking currently, but there was a time when you might’ve said the same about MySpace. Twitter continues to grow rapidly (despite retention issues). It’s not really showing any signs of slowing yet, and Facebook is well aware of this.

The option to subscribe to Friend updates via SMS is a smart move on Facebook’s part. It has been, after all, a big contributor to the success of Twitter in the first place. As more and more people are using their mobile devices to use their social networks. It’s simply just a logical step, and frankly an overdue one.

It is a good thing they did it on a friend-by-friend basis, because I can’t see too many people being incredibly stoked about the chance to receive every update in their news feed via text message. It would be going non-stop.

When you receive a text message of a status update. You can simply reply to the message to leave a comment on the update. And in addition to receiving updates from your friends, you can do the same with Facebook Pages.

"If you already have Facebook Mobile activated for your phone or device, then you will begin receiving the text message updates after confirming your subscription," notes Phil on the Facebook blog. "If you haven’t yet set up Facebook Mobile, you will be taken through a series of steps to activate it before receiving text messages."

Facebook SMSFacebook SMS

If you decide you don’t want to receive text messages from anyone you subscribed to, you can unsubscribe by:

– replying directly from your phone with "unsubscribe"

– returning to the friend’s profile (or Page) and clicking the "unsubscribe from SMS updates" link

– Editing your mobile texts settings from the Facebook mobile app.

The feature is available in 18 countries right now, but Facebook says it is expanding it around the world. The service is free on Facebooks’s end, but obviously standard fees from your provider will still stand. In other mobile social news, Google released a mobile app for Orkut.