08 March 2010

Publish updates from Facebook to Twitter

There’s no shortage of applications to update your status from or post to both of them simultaneously, but it’s harder it you would like to send your Facebook status to Twitter. This option is currently available only for Facebook pages. But with a little bit of work and some help from external applications you can get this Facebook-to-Twitter integration up and running for personal accounts as well.

The first thing you need is the RSS feed for status updates or links generated for your Facebook profile. These are actually not that easy to find, because the new interface (and probably the previous version as well) doesn’t put them in an easily accessible place.

Facebook My Links RSS I started out with my posted links, because I was interested in sending them to Twitter. The address of the RSS feed is also easier to locate in this case. Go to your profile, click on the “Links” tab and you should find a light blue box on the right with the label “Subscribe to these Links”. Right click the link underneath and copy the URL. This is the RSS feed for your posted links and should have a cryptic-looking address like this: http://www.facebook.com/feeds/share_posts.php?id=<id>&viewer=<id>&key=<key>&format=rss20. If you don’t have a tab for links in your profile, you can find them elsewhere: visit My Friends' Links and click on the small “My Links” next to the page title.

For your status updates I haven’t found any page in the interface for the RSS feed, but you can generate it yourself if you already have the URL for links: simply replace share_posts.php with status.php. So the RSS feed for your Facebook status updates looks something like this: http://www.facebook.com/feeds/status.php?id=<id>&viewer=<id>&key=<key>&format=rss20.

It gets easier from here on. There are several third-party services that can update Twitter if you supply them with these feeds, like Twitterfeed or even Google’s FeedBurner. They have more or less the same features, but I prefer FeedBurner, because it’s almost real-time thanks to PuSH-support. Twitterfeed only checks the feed after a specified interval, no smaller than 30 minutes. In FeedBurner I skipped the advanced statistics and only activated PingShot for real-time updating and Socialize for the connection with Twitter. I also set it up to append (fb) at the end of the tweets generated this way, so that my followers can recognize where the links came from. Automatically generated tweet from Facebook

The URL in the tweet points to the Facebook mini-page with your status/link. So if your privacy settings are restricted to Friends, posting updates from Facebook to Twitter may not be such good idea, because other followers who aren’t connected to you on Facebook will not be able to view the full status or original link. On a final note, these solution could become obsolete at any time as Facebook changes the interface or internal code, so don’t get very attached to it.

Update: If you’re looking for a more reliable and clean solution, you should check out a new service called ifttt (more details here).

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