Here’s my take (aimed at people not too familiar with one or the other): it’s the Twitter friend/follow system. Due to its extensive privacy settings, Facebook requires two-way verification for full sharing between two people. If someone doesn’t accept your friend request, you most likely can’t see what they are up to, because most people stick with default strong privacy settings.
On Twitter, you can see just about anything about anybody, unless they protect their updates, which only a small minority of active users seem to do. You can decide to follow someone and put their updates in your news stream, and they don’t have to follow you back. In that way, Twitter is much more of a real news feed than Facebook.
A couple notes about Twitter’s friend/follow system. If you follow someone but they don’t follow you, you’ll have to do an @ reply for them to see something you want them to see. You can also only send direct (private) messages to someone who is following you. If you block someone who follows you, they can still read your page, as far as I can figure. Twitter updates are very, very public and are quickly archived throughout the Web – even deleted updates.
This post was prompted in part by CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen‘s recent dive into active Twitter use for the Obama inauguration. (Pictured here with Caroline Kennedy/John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.) SoS Bowen is one of the most active Facebookers I know among elected officials. Follow her on Twitter.
Twitter and Facebook users, what do you think?