a status posted by Twitter developer Nick Kallen, 10% of users now see a "You both follow" section on user profiles that will showcase a handful of users that are followed by both that profile and the user visiting it. So if user A follows B, and user C follows B, then B will show up in this section when user A visits user C's profile.Twitter is testing a new feature tonight that will provide users with a widget in the profile sidebar which displays mutual follows. According to
Previously users relied on third-party tools to determine relationships such as these, but now Twitter seems to be testing their own version of this functionality. It's not surprising that Twitter is attempting to better leverage their millions of users, as their network lends itself to these types of inter-user features. The connections that can be made through mutual follows on Twitter far outnumber those that can be found on Facebook, where users keep friends lists at a much smaller amount than they do follow counts.
In a hyperlinked world, where our activities, interests and social connections are naked to the world by interlinked web document, the factorial of that number of connections represents the universe of possibilities for analysis, feature development and added value.
Is this just the tip of the iceberg for Twitter? Should third party app developers be concerned that Twitter is slowly going to replace popular add-on features with tools of their own? It wasn't long ago that Twitter snatched up atebits, developers of the Tweetie iPhone app, which has since been rebranded as Twitter's official app. As Twitter expands it's base functionality to include more tools, some third-party developers may be nudged aside.
It is unlikely, however that Twitter would go to the trouble of over-developing on its own platform. Twitter has prided itself on its simplicity since its launch, and by creating too many tools it could ruin that delicate balance of simplicity and functionality. This is precisely why the mutual follow feature, like many before it, is being tested on a small sample size before being rolled-out to the entire population of users.
The same public link connections that make this new feature possible is what makes more advanced social graph analysis possible using tools like Mailana or Twiangulate. Those 3rd party services, while incredibly useful, will likely remain outside the realm of what Twitter would ever develop itself.
Photo from dacort on Twitpic.