ReadWriteWeb has their take on Facebook's decision to allow user's to make status updates public. This would allow anyone (not just friends) to see the user's updates. The part I find the most telling though is the update ReadWriteWeb received from Facebook (which obviously came after the initial post)...
UPDATE: After we wrote this post, Facebook HQ emailed to tell us that the first wave of users who get this feature will have their messages made public by default because their profiles were already marked as public, but that when they open the feature up to subsequent users - those users will have default privacy settings that match their pre-existing profile privacy settings. Unfortunately, in our tests so far (see our screencast) - we haven't been able to successfully change our default message settings back to friends-only, it stays stuck on public. When we switch our test account from profile public to profile private and then back again, the default for message posting gets stuck at "friends of friends!"
For anyone not catching the not-so-hidden agenda here this is obviously a move to target Twitter. Or at least that's how I and just about every other blogger I've found are choosing to interpret it. But here's the distinction...
Twitter is public by default, Facebook will require the user to choose to make their updates public
That's important. There are about a million studies out there on software design that all agree most users will retain the default settings on an application (web or otherwise). That's why Internet Explorer still defaults to MSN and Google Chrome opens to Google. So this move probably won't amount to much.
In the end I suspect the impact of this will be almost nil. Moreover I think it's a mistake for Facebook to start competing with sites like Twitter. Facebook's future is much brighter as a platform. Meaning they should be embracing applications like Twitter not trying to compete with them.
Don't get me wrong, it's a nice feature and for the life of me I don't know why Facebook hasn't had it from the start. I just think everyone, including Facebook, is making too big a deal of it. It's certainly not a Twitter killer and I don't see why Facebook would want it to be.