Empire Avenue Gives Me Flashbacks to Farmville & Highlights A Fundamental Difference Between Twitter & Facebook

EmpireAvenueLately, several friends and others whose opinions I value highly have started to play "Empire Avenue", a new social "game" where "Everyone's For Sale" and you can buy and sell shares of "people" who are on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

No big deal, really... I mean, hey, we all need breaks and escapes and if that is how they want to spend their time, that's perfectly fine by me. It's undoubtedly much tamer and better than half a zillion other activities, and being personally a big fan and player of traditional board games, Empire Avenue sounds a whole lot like Monopoly or another similar game.

What's my issue?

All the Empire Avenue updates pollute my Twitter feed.

Suddenly I'm scanning down my tweet stream and keep seeing tweets like this:

Empireavenue 1 1

Grammatical error aside (Hello, Empire Avenue? You need to do a basic check of "if number = 1, use 'share', else use 'shares'.), here's the thing:

I don't CARE if you bought a share in someone!

Really and truly... I don't.

Do I Care About Your (Virtual) Cow?

Which is where I'm getting the flashbacks to Farmville. When it first started in Facebook, suddenly we all saw messages in our Facebook NewsFeed about:

  • how so-and-so bought a new cow; or
  • how their plants needed to be watered; or
  • that they had plowed X new fields; or
  • that we could help them out by buying them a pig.

And either you loved the idea and started playing the game yourself or you hated seeing the updates and wanted to get rid of them.

The Fundamental Difference

Which serves to highlight a fundamental difference between Facebook and Twitter:

On Facebook you can hide updates from an APPLICATION, whereas on Twitter you can't.

As most all of us on Facebook now know, you can click on the "X" next to an update in your news feed and if it is from an application you can "hide" updates from that app:

Facebook hideapps 1

Once you do this, you never see another update from that application until you go and unblock that app. (And do any of us really remember where that unblock option is?) So for me personally, Farmville, Cityville and all the animal and jewel games have just gone away... they no longer "pollute" my Facebook newsfeed.

The issue, of course, is:

We don't have this blocking option in Twitter.

Twitter is a much simpler system and in that simplicity is really a great part of its beauty and the reason, in my opinion, for its great success.

The process of using Twitter's API is drop-dead simple... and there isn't any complex process behind it. Anyone can create an app that connects to your Twitter stream... and there are loads of toolkits and services out there that will help you with that.

But you can't easily block updates from an application that someone is using. You have to either "unfollow" the person...

or just learn to ignore their updates.

Which, to be honest, is what I've done with FourSquare updates that many of my friends publish out to their tweet streams... and is obviously what I'm going to be doing with regard to Empire Avenue tweets.

I don't expect Twitter to offer us a solution - although perhaps some of the third-party Twitter clients will offer that option (since they can gain access through the API to what app is posting the tweet and could conceivably block on that app). Of course, with Twitter's recent war on third-party clients, we may never see this kind of innovation, but I digress...

It just highlights a fundamental difference in the level of control that you have between what you see in your feeds for Facebook and Twitter.

P.S. I Could, Of Course, Be Wrong

I should note that I'm still trying to stay open-minded about Empire Avenue itself. I haven't signed up yet (Hey, I was on vacation last week building garden beds and writing :-) ) and I've read what Jeremiah Owyang, Scott Monty and others have written, as well as an interview with the Empire Avenue CEO:

I'm still reading and watching. My initial reaction is what I wrote above... maybe that will change over time... maybe it won't.

Meanwhile, I do find myself wishing I could just hide all updates from some apps like this in my Twitter stream..

What do you think? Do you wish there was a way to NOT see updates from games or apps in your Twitter stream? Or have you just gotten really good at ignoring tweets like these?

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