Once I asked a gay friend of mine why was it that gay men had so much sex. He replied….because there is nobody to say no. I remembered this today when trying to understand why Twitter is growing much more than Facebook per dollar invested. And it became clear it´s also because in Twitter there is nobody to say no. You twit, somebody follows you, you don´t need to accept them. Twitter has no formal acceptance process. In Facebook instead there is a pretty complicated acceptance process, and that leads to less connections, to more thinking, more hesitation. Less sex. Twitter is less inhibited, you speak to the world, you don´t care if what you say can be heard by all, the more the merrier, you twit. Facebook is more about balanced relationships, hence less sex. Which for members of course, it´s a good thing. But not for a growing business. My guess is that Facebook will continue to strip down the acceptance process or create a default category of followers which then whose status can then be elevated to friends when you follow them back or in some rare cases block them. It´s interesting that Twitter considers rejection rare and makes you feel awkward when you say no to a follower.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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Andy Werner on May 26, 2009  · 

Martin: for anybody who’s relevant (i.e. celebrities) Facebook already has; they’re called fan pages!

Great post, loved the part about the “say no!”

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Vitor Domingos on May 27, 2009  · 

hmmm interesting post. i think you nailed it quite good 🙂

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Lasse Enersen on May 27, 2009  · 

I think that people have always enjoyed having different levels of privacy. Somethings are meant for family, somethings for friends, and somethings are meant for the whole world to hear. Twitter of course is for the latter, and Facebook for the two first ones. One reason these both services are so exceptionally successful, is the clarity in the level of privacy; ie. you know exactly what your “audience” is.

There is way more different kind of stuff happening between users in Facebook, than in Twitter. I count this as this “sex” thing. It’s is possible for people to share more stuff with each other, when they are comfortable knowing that only their friends and/or family see what they are sharing. Of course then there are people who are happy to let everyone in the world know what they had for lunch. But I wouldn’t start competing with Twitter on this, if I was Facebook. Being different from the competition is important. Facebook (250+M) makes a big mistake if it thinks it should start copying Twitter (15+ M). You don’t want to blend your offering closer to the competition. You need to differentiate. Offer something the other guys isn’t offering. In Facebook it’s privacy. For us business people, we want to be seen, but we shouldn’t let that distract us to believe that the large majority of internet users are the same.

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Richard Walker on May 27, 2009  · 

con “twitter” uno hace “tweets” – no “twits” – ja hay demasiado confusion…por favor!
with “twitter” one makes “tweets” – not “twits” – there is already too much confusion…please!
TWiT is a podcast network run by Leo Laporte.

I block more twitter requests than I accept lately.
I find your sex analogy not too helpful and a little offensive.
I think I understand what you are saying however.

Still, some of us use twitter quite differently, as you can see in this exchange that occurred hours ago.

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Tim Has on May 27, 2009  · 

Interesting subject. I agree to what your are saying Lasse: I’m afraid Facebook has the Microsoft ‘I want to do it all’ approach.

In terms of meeting new people Twitter is far more exiting to me than Facebook. If I look to my Facebook behavior and that from others around me it is mainly about watching photos from friends (almost voyeurism if you would ask me). I just counted how many friends I have on Facebook who I’ve never met in real life before connecting on Facebook and that results in 10 people. But with those 10 I’ve had contact through other media before. On Twitter on the other hand I have had conversations with people I didn’t know of before (not much but that is because I quite recently registered on Twitter).

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Keith on May 27, 2009  · 

I know it’s just a metaphor, but when you’re gay, there are a lot of people to say no. In fact, I’ve noticed that gay men tend to be the most hostile, stuck-up people to me. Maybe they just expect that I expect sex and can’t just be friendly, but I guess that’s not really important; what’s important is that your initial two sentences, at best, lack universality. Of course, I’m not on Facebook at all and only occasionally post anything on Twitter (and am thinking about canceling it); I’m far more into blogging. Most (if not all) of these Web 2.0 sites are all hype for nothing.

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Martin Varsavsky on May 27, 2009  · 

I started a biotech company called Medicorp Sciences operating in Montreal, Canada working among others, in the field of AIDS. I have had the opportunity to see epidemiological studies on the spread of the AIDS virus. What these studies shows is that gay men on the average, have more sexual intercourse and with different partners than straight men. But thanks to the wide adoption of condoms the epidemic growth was arrested. But statistics don´t mean much when you are an individual in a group which is your case. You can have less sex than straight men and still be gay. Or some straight men can be extremely promiscuous and have very frequent sexual encounters and be heterosexual. By the way just to clarify I am straight and I believe that having frequent sex, especially with somebody you love is phenomenal. When I say sex I mean something that in general has a positive connotation so this was not a negative comment.

Richard Walker on May 28, 2009  · 

Fair enough Mr. Varsavsky, thanks for your thoughtful reply.

Moving on, I’m fascinated to hear that “Andorra has the highest life expectancy in the world.” I’ve been there only once long ago.

I used to live in Mallorca, then Gerona, then Barcelona, but I’d love to return to Spain, especially Madrid. From the news and films I’ve seen it seems that Spain has evolved quite a bit, and become quite tolerant since I left in 1981.

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