via logoOne of the most well-used and addictive features on Twitter has to be the ReTweet. People find an idea they like, they just pass it on so quickly; and millions of people can get on to it in no time. It is practically viral. Facebook,the name that gets mentioned in the same breath as Twitter, happens to be much more popular, and is much larger; but it doesn’t spread news like wildfire quitein the way Twitter does.Facebook is all about privacy; Twitter is all about letting it all hang out, with almost all Twitter profiles listed as public, open for anyone to see. On Facebook, you could not even make your profile public until a year ago. Facebook has the need to change its culture, turning away from jealously guarded privacy, to compulsive sharing. So far, names have not been clickable on Facebook as they have been on Twitter; and of course, there is no simple ReTweeting syntax. ReShare has been Facebook’s lukewarm attempt at bringing in the sharing function, but it hasn’t been successful so far.

But Facebook is not done with tweaking its own ReTweeting feature. They’ve just released a Facebook feature called Via. It lets you repost something a friend shared with you, and it stamps the originator’s name on it with a Via attribution. It’s online already; you just need to pick up an item a friend has posted in your News Feed, and click on the Share button. You’ll get a Via option here with the name of the original friend stamped on it. When you finish sharing it, it will show up on your profile, with a link that goes to your friend’s profile too. Your friends will also find them on their News Feeds, and that is the closest thing to the ReTweet that you can imagine.

But Via Is only useful for links that someone’s posted. You can’t Via a status update, or your picture for instance. But it’s a first step, and it could evolve. They have the most useful kind of reposting feature up now with the link reposting ability, and that is what counts. Facebook will probably have a service like Tweet meme tracking how far a reposting of anything goes, and it could make Facebook really valuable in a world where instant real-time search is becoming deeply mainstream.