With Tweet Button, Twitter looks outward

Twitter this week introduced the Tweet Button, which lets users quickly link to content outside the Twitter network.

Twitter users now have a new link-sharing option.

On Thursday Twitter introduced a new feature – dubbed the "Tweet Button" – which will allow users to link to content on external sites with a single click of the mouse. Here's an example: You're on a news site, and you find an article you'd like to share with friends. Instead of cutting and pasting the URL – or shrinking it down to size – you can use the Tweet Button to automatically populate your Twitter feed with the appropriate link.

"The Tweet Button is not only simple for users, but for publishers of all sizes, too," a Twitter rep wrote on the official company blog today. "Recreational bloggers to large media companies can quickly and easily add the Tweet Button to their sites. It only takes a few lines of code. The Tweet Button will help publishers grow traffic and increase their Twitter following."

Twitter has listed of a handful of sites that have already integrated the Tweet Button functionality; more are expected in coming weeks.

Facebook, of course, recently unveiled a "like" feature, which works in much the same as the Tweet Button. For Facebook, the feature has its advantages. For one, it provides the social networking site a dynamic portrait of users' tastes and interests – information which can then be leveraged by the businesses that advertise on Facebook on a regular basis.

But not long after Facebook unveiled the "like" functionality, the network was slammed for failing to adequately protect user information. In late May, Facebook finally relented, and greatly simplified its security settings, making it easier for users to control how much content – including "likes" and status updates – was visible to the public.

You listening, Twitter? There's a lesson in there for you somewhere.

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