For years news sources have been anticipating the end of Facebook. Forbes published an article as early as 2011 predicting that the demise of this social media platform was near, based on the fact that 100,000 British users had deactivated their accounts that month. Weekly World News predicted that the end would come specifically on May 15, 2013. After reporting every slip up Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild has, articles question whether this is the beginning of a slippery downward slope.
Part of the reason for these glum predictions is that it seems like teenagers are over Facebook. Mashable published an article written by a thirteen year old girl who claimed that “none of my friends use Facebook.” The author claimed that her peers were uncomfortable publishing content that their parents, who also had Facebook accounts, could see. It’s true that with the rise of competing social media apps, such as Instagram and SnapChat, teenagers have found other ways to communicate with their friends.
However, teenagers cooling to Facebook may be just an illusion. Mashable published a follow-up piece entitled “I’m 15 and All of My Friends Use Facebook.” (I’m just amazed that these teenagers published articles that were shared 51.9k and 3.8k times. That’s going to look impressive on their college applications.) A more recent Forbes article reported that while teenagers claimed to be leaving Facebook in polls, Facebook’s actual numbers don’t reflect that. Maybe they are simply not using their accounts instead of deactivating them.
So why are so many waiting for the end of Facebook? For those of us old enough to remember (I’m 22 and still loving Facebook, which I guess just makes me so old) Facebook’s forefather, MySpace, might be the answer. Launched in 2003, the site was the king of social networking from 2005 to 2008, even surpassing Google in visits in 2006. But by the end of 2008, Facebook overtook MySpace.
It’s a clear connection to make. The tech industry is notorious for constantly coming up with “the next big thing.” Facebook could easily go the way of MySpace.
Yet Facebook has something MySpace never had – MySpace’s example. MySpace died because it remained static. Zuckerberg is constantly updating Facebook (to many users’ chagrin) and trying new ideas. If you were on Facebook in the early days, you might remember that everyone’s profile was flooded with teenager-y apps, similar in feel to the kind of content for which MySpace was known. In this year alone, Facebook has created the Graph Search function, implemented hashtags, bought Instagram, and grew its advertising and ecommerce side. I personally don’t remember MySpace trying so hard to evolve until after its downward slide.
The fact that Zuckerberg’s latest innovations are being met with indifference actually doesn’t matter. Facebook users have always protested any change to the website. They’ve created groups and posted unhappy statuses. But they never leave.
Facebook also isn’t fazed by the growth of other social media platforms. That problem was solved by buying Instagram. Almost all social networking sites actually help Facebook to grow by giving users the option to sync their Facebook accounts or post simultaneously to Facebook.
Currently, Facebook has 1.1 billion accounts. Even with users unhappy over the newest changes, it is a billion dollar business. And so far, there is no “next big thing” on the horizon.
What do you think will happen to Facebook in the future? Is it an untouchable monolith or only a matter of time?
Worstall, Tim. “The End of Facebook.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2011/06/15/the-end-of-facebook/. (11 Sept. 2013).
Smitts, J.B. “FACEBOOK WILL END ON MAY 15TH, 2013!” http://weeklyworldnews.com/headlines/27321/facebook-will-end-on-ma-15th/. (11 Sept. 2013).
Karp, Ruby. “I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook.” http://mashable.com/2013/08/11/teens-facebook/. (11 Sept. 2013).
Svitak, Adora. “I’m 15 and All My Friends Use Facebook.” http://mashable.com/2013/08/13/teens-facebook-response/. (11 Sept. 2013).
Bercovici, Jeff. “Mark Zuckerberg Says Teenagers Aren’t Leaving Facebook.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2013/07/24/mark-zuckerberg-says-teenagers-arent-leaving-facebook/. (11 Sept. 2013).
Olsen, Stefanie. “Google’s antisocial downside.” http://news.cnet.com/Googles-antisocial-downside/2100-1038_3-6093532.html. (11 Sept. 2013).
Nieva, Richard. “Facebook’s biggest challenge: Too many people like it.” http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57601796-93/facebooks-biggest-challenge-too-many-people-like-it/?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20. (11 Sept. 2013).