You might have noticed indented comments on Facebook recently. Last week, Facebook rolled out the anticipated feature that makes it easier to figure out who’s replying to each other. Though this is a helpful addition, the threaded replies seem like Facebook’s ulterior motive to overthrow Reddit’s AMA series.
Reddit AMAs (short for Ask Me Anything) have been the darling of the Internet and celebrities alike. It’s a great way for celebrities to engage fans by opening up their lives and experiences in a crowdsourced interview (it doesn’t hurt to do them while promoting something, of course). In the most recent election season, President Obama took to Reddit to promote his campaign, making it the first and only submission to “get more visitors than the front page at any given time.” It was also an AMA that singlehandedly broke Reddit for many users, causing extended down time and allowing the POTUS to answer just a few questions before time up was. Still, thanks to Reddit, this casual, welcoming series have propelled into mainstream culture – so much so that a Press Tour includes an AMA to boot.
Facebook has undoubtedly taken notice. Soon after threaded comments appeared on the social network, some famous figures hosted Q&As on their official Facebook Pages to interact with fans and followers (namely, Diane Sawyer and Arianna Huffington). These ladies’ appearances are no coincidence. A look at Facebook’s Journalist resource page highlights Sawyer and Huffington’s Q&A’s as the latest Facebook posts. It also helped that The Huffington Post was part of Facebook’s beta testing of threaded comments before the feature officially unveiled.
The second feature, which we’ve highlighted earlier last week, bubbles up “active and engaging conversations” to the top of the post. Sounds familiar? That’s the same innerworking that powers Reddit’s front page and the home page of every subreddit.
While Facebook does seem to be getting competitive with its Q&A format, that doesn’t mean celebrities will shy away from Reddit AMAs. Facebook may boast 1.1 billion users (not factoring in the number of fake accounts), but Reddit has an active community of people that will just read the AMA for the sake of reading them. The anonymity that Reddit offers also encourages constructively critical questions, and the site lists upcoming guests on its AMA series to help readers anticipate the event. Conversely, if the Obama Q&A were to happen on Facebook, you’d have to question his authority with your face behind the question. We’re not so sure the format would come off as authentic and raw.
Update: Facebook responded to us and its spokesperson provided us with the following statement:
“The Facebook for Journalists Page is a Page run by Facebook employees that provides resources for using Facebook as a journalist. We aim to feature innovative ways journalists are using Facebook, such as the two recent Q&As.”