Why Can’t Twitter Be More Like Facebook or Linked In?

It can. Are you looking for a way for Twitter to locate mutual friends or people who know people you know? I love this feature on Facebook and often find BlogHers or long-lost classmates based on the application’s suggestions as to people I may know because they know people I know. People who know people. Or some such.

Now there is a Firefox add-on that will help you locate mutual friends you may share with the people you follow on Twitter. (Yeah, sorry, it only works in Firefox right now.) It’s not exactly like what happens on Facebook, but it can be helpful.

Several tools for finding mutual friends on Twitter are described in the Web Worker Daily article by Doriano “Paisano” Carta at How to Find Mutual Friends on Twitter. The tool from the article that appealed to me is the Ul.timate.info add-on for Firefox.

It wasn’t just me who found it interesting. Heather squeeed about it on Twitter, so I thought I should give it a try.

Before I get too far into the description of what ul.timate.info does in Twitter, you need to know that it also adds features to Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, foursquare, and bit.ly.

Here’s what happened when I installed the add-on. It was a bit confusing at first. Normally, when you install a Firefox add-on, you set up your preferences for the new tool using the Preferences button in the add-ons window. But the Preferences button for Ul.timate.info was grayed out.

grayed out button

The instructions on the web site said to right-click (or ctrl-click on Mac) on a Twitter name or image to see a menu that would allow you to find mutual friends. I tried this about 50 times. It didn’t show me the menu! (The definition of stupidity; when it doesn’t work keep doing it the same way.)

Finally I noticed an ul.timate.info menu option way up at the top of my screen in the Firefox menu. Why didn’t the download instructions say this? Especially since it departs from the norm for add-ons? Application developers don’t spring for good technical writers to explain their new apps—one of my pet complaints.

the menu in the top menu bar

I selected Settings, then entered my Twitter name and password. Now the magic worked. A right-click (or ctrl-click) showed me all these lovely new menu options, including the longed-for View Mutual Friends.

the new menu options

I tried out a few people to see how many mutual friends we have. I have zero mutual friends with singer @dianebirch. That’s okay. I just follow her in case she ever leaves New York and goes on tour somewhere close to me. I don’t care who her followers are. But I have 34 friends in common with @jenlemen. I care about who her followers are. We share some interests. I may check her followers (I can do that with the ul.timate.info menu) to see if she found someone I’d really like to follow but don’t. Yet.

my mutual friends with jenlemen

I wish ul.timate.info would be more like LinkedIn or Facebook’s friend recommendations. I wish I could click on someone’s name and get a few suggestions as to who might be a good fit for me to follow. Even though it isn’t quite effort free to find mutual friends, I can still get some helpful tips and information from this tool. Plus, it stays out of the way when I don’t want to use it, always a good thing.

If you try it, let me know what you think of it.

Cross posted at BlogHer.

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