"What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?"
Like a pesky younger brother, Facebook and a host of imitators eagerly ask their users what they're up to, again and again and again -- information known as "status updates" in the tech world. And now Facebook has bought one of those imitators, a 12-person startup called FriendFeed, for an undisclosed sum.
FriendFeed collects users' online activity from multiple social networks, from photos posted on Flickr to comments on YouTube videos to tweets on Twitter, and then lets people comment on them in a central location.
A recent revamp has made Facebook more closely resemble FriendFeed, whose user base is dwarfed by Facebook's 250 million active users around the world.
But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly been frustrated by the success of Twitter. Unlike Facebook, which has strict privacy controls, Twitter encourages its users to post their thoughts publicly, and as a result has attracted tens of millions of users. Facebook tried to buy Twitter for approximately $500 million last year, but talks fell apart because of disagreements on price and other matters.
By buying FriendFeed, which has an open feel that's similar to Twitter, Facebook now appears to be waging war with a startup it once flirted with.
Facebook also gets FriendFeed's founders, a crew of former Googlers which includes Paul Buchheit, who helped create Gmail and popularized Google's informal "don't be evil" slogan.
Photo by Flickr user silverisdead.