Why Facebook can’t compare to Twitter when it comes to breaking news

If you spend any time on Twitter and follow even a few journalists, then you’ve been bombarded by news coming out of Ferguson, Missouri. And not just news, but on-the-ground accounts from people tweeting live from the protests. That’s because of the way that content can easily surface on Twitter — a firsthand source who may not have a huge following is found by someone who does have a huge following — often a journalist — and then his or her tweet is magnified through the network.

But, as noted by Pando Daily, you don’t see this kind of content on Facebook. Sure, if you follow some news orgs’ Facebook pages you’ll see new developments and perhaps a few of your friends may be posting about it, but if someone on the ground were to upload a photo or video of what he’s seeing to Facebook, the amount of friction on the network is too great for it to really spread effectively. Especially considering all the privacy controls in place that restricts who can see what.

Robert Scoble disagrees with this notion, and argues that it’s all about how you tweak Facebook lists, and that if only you were to follow the right journalists on Facebook then you’d experience the same level of breaking news on Facebook that you do on Twitter. But by merely having to create a list and remember to click on it is a level of friction, and even then it’s not evident how journalists on Facebook will find and magnify content from on-the-ground sources. The search functionality on Facebook is horrible, after all, and again you have to deal with all the privacy filters.

Until Facebook actually gets search that allows you to, you know, search Facebook, it’ll never have the reporting power of Twitter. And yet they’ve yet to improve this feature, despite techies complaining about it for half a decade.