Earlier today, the popular micro-blogging service Twitter attempted to launch a new application on Facebook that would allow users to easily begin following their friends, family and contacts from the massive social network. Many were excited to see the new connections that could be made on Twitter with this application, but so far, the app has failed to connect correctly with Facebook, rendering it useless and leaving some convinced that Facebook has outright blocked the application.
Update: Twitter has contacted us and explained that it's not a technical matter at issue, but that "Facebook has notified us that they have blocked the update to our application, and we are working on a resolution with them."
Connectin' Ain't Easy
Almost every social Web service these days has a feature that allows users to find other users based on Facebook contacts and Twitter follows, but these services do not. Since not everybody connects their Facebook and Twitter accounts, it is not necessarily easy to draw these connections without some help from the two services.
Before Twitter's attempts today to connect these profiles, the easiest way to see some of your mutual Facebook and Twitter friends was to view the Twitter application on Facebook (which every Twitter user does not necessarily use). Since I use the Twitter app to sync my updates to Facebook, by viewing that application I can see a list of my Facebook friends that also use the app. In fact, I just discovered some Facebook friends that I had no idea were on Twitter.
But this is an imperfect system, and the list doesn't show those friends' usernames, making it much harder to track them down and follow them on Twitter. What Twitter was attempting to do was to have users connect their accounts so that connections could more easily be made, and users could follow their Facebook contacts with a few clicks.
Twitter Plays the Blame Game?
"Our Facebook app, which launched in 2007, now shows which of your Facebook friends are on Twitter and lets you follow them instantly and save them to a list. The app also lets you post your Tweets to your Facebook profile and now, to one of your Facebook pages too," the company said in a blog post today.
The only problem is, the app doesn't work. When users try to connect their accounts, the app says it has succeeded in doing so, but the list of friends is replaced with an error message. "It appears that the connection between Facebook and Twitter isn't working, we are working with Facebook to resolve the problem," says the message.
This is actually a different message than originally appeared - one that suggested Facebook was blocking the application from working properly. "An error has occurred because Facebook has blocked your ability to allow this application to look up your friends. Twitter has requested that Facebook remove the block," it said previously.
Additionally, a giant frowning face emoticon which was previously shown below the error message has disappeared. It seems Twitter has done an about-face on the application, removing remarks blaming Facebook for the problems and the sad emoticon of failure. Despite this, Twitter has also updated its blog post to alert people to the problem, citing they believed it "is an issue on Facebook's end."
More Trouble for Twitter
For Twitter, this is just more bad news on top of an already poor period of publicity. The service is barely staying afloat as the World Cup is ravaging Twitter's servers, and now they're new Facebook app is broken, whoever's fault it is. I'm curious that Twitter would decide to rely on Facebook's own webpage to connect users between the networks. Just as other services do, Twitter could have easily connected the accounts using Facebook's APIs, and they would have had full control over the look and feel of the experience.
It seems they took the opportunity when upgrading the Facebook app to also connect friends, but something has apparently gone wrong. More information surrounding this "incident" will likely come to light over the next few hours and into tomorrow.