clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Twitter Cribbing From Facebook's Old Playbook

Welcome to 2009!

Twist Design / Shutterstock

Twitter needs to make itself easier for normal people to use. The best way to do that? Start aping Facebook, its biggest competitor.

In the past week, Twitter has completely revamped its user profiles, making them more visually striking. It’s incorporated large cover photos and a familiar tiled layout. And just yesterday afternoon, the company launched notifications on, a means of immediately alerting its users to new direct messages and retweets.

For Twitter, a service that many complain is just too hard to understand, these additions are likely a good thing. The new profile pages list much more information about you, and notifications could encourage further interaction from users.

The thing is, absolutely none of this is truly groundbreaking stuff. Facebook introduced a similar Timeline profile redesign three years ago, completely reimagining the visual layout of its personal pages. And the social network has used pop-up notifications to remind users of updates since 2009.

Is copying your competitors an inherently bad thing? Not necessarily. The tech industry sees user interface trends ripple across Websites often. (Remember when everyone started copying Pinterest?) It’s pretty common that competitors look to one another for inspiration. And Facebook has cribbed its fair share from Twitter — hashtags, for example.

But this isn’t being trendy, it’s playing catch-up. It’s like Twitter lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the past five years, and only just discovered it’s cool to wear Ray-Bans and skinny jeans.

I’ll give the company props for pushing a lot of product changes out the door in short order. Twitter went for years on end without any major changes to its products, so it’s nice to see the company pick up the pace.

But when will we see an innovation from Twitter that really wows us?

Perhaps in another five years?

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.