A few days prior to this post I updated my facebook status with a bold statement that I knew how facebook was going to die. In this post I explain my reasons while also giving some counter arguments in favour of the Social Networking giant that gets more hits than even the mighty Google
I am not in any way against facebook, it has on the contrary been a wonderful tool for both my business and social life. The part I do disagree with is the god like nature the web site is revered as. Below are the issues I see behind the possible death of facebook
Loss of Real Connection
My issue with facebook is more and more that there is a loss of real connection. Think of the amount of stupid groups you are invited to on a daily basis. If you are actually interested and join, the group never actually interacts more than a few intial posts by the owner. Its as though people are just making these groups because they had a brain fart and thought it would be a good idea. The more and more of these pointless groups exist the more spaced apart the good ones become.
Don’t get me started on events! How many “confirmations” do events get and of that confirmed lot who actually turns up? I say less than 4% from personal experience. This is the trouble with facebook, there is no responsibility, no currency and no ramifications which means that there can never be a real connection.
The sheer amount of stagnant fan pages is unbelievable. Even celebrities / games / tv programs you would assume to be buzzing have at most a nice picture of the celebrity and a few posts from the admin. If you know of a fan page that is full of life, please post it in the comments, I would love to be part of it.
Then we have the plethora of crappy apps that constantly infest our newsfeed. Luckily facebook cut back on this and Mafia Wars finally stopped asking me to be a gangster every waking hour. Power to the block function I say!
With the loss of real connection why would people want to logon? With no connection you are essentially talking to your self which can get you put in the funny farm where I come from…
The Internet’s Dumping Ground
If you can say and do anything, how does what you do have meaning? facebook is saturated with rubbish in every format you can imagine. Nonsensical videos, pointless pictures, irrelevant notes, pointless groups and baren fan pages.
On the flip side it is great to think I can do and say anything I want. It’s nice to have a place where I can save parts of my life and look back on later. I personally think that using facebook as a dumping ground for your life is actually a good thing. Example, since starting Web Courses Bangkok I have literally been too busy to keep in touch with friends but, because they often dump their lives into facebook, I get the goss and keep up with who is doing who. For this facebook, I thank you.
Real Interaction, Where For Art Thou?
It is your friends birthday, you know because facebook has kindly reminded you. So you click their profile and put “HBD” onto their wall and smile to yourself that you have shown you care. Wrong! Come on, how is putting an acronym on someone’s online profile as real as calling or meeting them and saying “Happy Birthday Day mate”. This is not just an attack on facebook but the whole move from reality to online.
The trusty link. You find a web site, post, picture that you like and you take the time to craft a link to it. You’re link says proudly I like this and I have put time and effort into proving that fact. Okay, maybe this is making it sound more grand than it is but simply clicking “I Like” is no where as real as putting a real link into your web site. Again facebook is removing the real interaction by substituting convenience to benefit its own stats.
Take another example, you become a fan of a charity, do you actually do anything about it? Or do you assume that one mouse movement and click of the index finger single handedly helped take care of the 120 orphans with HIV and or AIDS? Come on, be real and put meaning into what you claim to be interacting with.
Be real when you interact, even if it is as small as becoming a fan of a charity. Actually put some real time and effort into what you do online and that will bring meaning back.
Facebook Decides What is Private not you!
In December facebook literally sent shock waves across the net. Most people didn’t really care that much but some were outspoken enough to get a lot of press and even get facebook to change their take on privacy.
Essentially facebook users were not allowed to restrict access to their profile photos and pages they liked. This means anyone could view your photos and they also made the list of all your firends available! Luckily they changed their stance on this and made it so only “machines” could access this information.
Rumours of this started a long time ago when people realised you can never truly delete your profile from facebook. Personally I find this crazy and a real breach in my privacy. My pictures and content I upload should be mine and mine to delete!
Later they decided to basically make all your updates, shared photos, videos and links public by default. This meant to keep your thoughts, pictures, clips and links private you had to alter your privacy settings. Now lets be honest how many people would be bothered to do so? Not many!
Facebook Product Manager Leah Pearlman told www.readwriteweb.com that making more user data publicly visible would help users identify which people were their friends when search results showed multiple people with the same name. Facebook Director of Communications Brandee Barker told www.readwriteweb.com that more public information would help users connect with new people who share common interests.
As Nick O’Neill wrote on his own blog AllFacebook:
When Facebook decided that they would start making these decisions on behalf of users, they crossed the line. Facebook doesn’t need to update their system to ‘reflect what the current social norms are’. Instead, Facebook should give users complete control of their privacy and as a result, user settings in aggregate will effectively ‘reflect what the current social norms are’. Simplifying a system which gives users complete control of their privacy isn’t easy but the value of such a system is priceless and for Facebook it’s necessary.
Now there is a possible reason behind all this “openness”. There is speculation that facebook will start selling stock to the public; IPO Initial Public Offering. Now if facebook opens the doors to the content, other sites and search engines can find and link to it, this will put facebook’s traffic figures up considerably. With no privacy doors in the way of content means more ads facebook can show you thus the value of their stock will increase as the more advertisers flock to facebook.
” Name and Profile Picture. Facebook is designed to make it easy for you to find and connect with others. For this reason, your name and profile picture do not have privacy settings. If you are uncomfortable with sharing your profile picture, you should delete it (or not add one). “Facebook privacy statement
It is no surprise that a massive company such as facebook changes the rules to suit itself, but there is only so many times you can rock a boat before people start abandoning to another ship where privacy means private.
Will the facebook Universe Keep Expanding or Contract Into Something Wholly New?
Lets get down to it the real reason I see behind facebook’s death is that it is like the ever expanding universe. going in so many directions and exceeding in none. This is why I love twitter, it really went for one small area and as a result it flourished. facebook started off as a way of segregating yourself into relevant networks, this was the beauty of it. Like little galaxies these networks spun around the universal online soup. Now as the boundaries of the networks gradually gets smaller and smaller they eventually merge into a big soup much like MySpace was. Without segregation the networks become pointless and the founding idea of facebook is lost.
I see facebook basically expanding apart. Getting so large that the distance between relevant interactive people is so great that people give up. I see a seed growing in the form of a highly exclusive social network that people fight to get on and is so tightly locked down that people flock to it because they can’t get in. I think the new social network to take facebook’s place will be a complete polar opposite.
Or will we see a whole new era of social networks much like in the film gamer, where we can actually become other people online, oh wait that has been done. Okay, what about a network that you can only enter if you are invited, darn it that wave has passed as well. Second Life and Google Wave may not have been the massive Social Networks their creators promised but is there a possibility of some sort of hybrid? Is that where facebook is going?
Wait, there is more! Facebook’s New Omni Graph Enters Stage Left
Open Graph is a new platform that allows sites and online apps to share information about people even if that visitors has never been to the site before. By sharing your interests and tastes with that site, the site can tailor it’s advertising and features to you. Oh, sounds so great doesn`t it. But again it is sharing informaiton with others without you knowing.
“Zuckerberg and Taylor described a concept called “Open Graph” that will be useful to businesses and services. On Facebook, users are connected to people they know, as well as public figures, services and products they like; Facebook’s new platform will allow websites and apps to share this information with each other. “ Mashable
So what does this mean for us as users? Better user experience of the web or just better advertising?
Carl’s Conclusive Conclusion
In all truth I am waiting for a glimmer of hope that will gives us a strong clue of what is coming up next. For me I am going to continue with facebook as I still have a great deal of friends on my list with whom I can interact in a relevant, engaging, challenging and interesting way. As soon as this stops so will my facebook account.
Social Networks are all about people and I think as soon as a network gets saturated with businesses and marketing spiel people loose interest. With facebook’s massive user base there will always be businesses, like me, wanting to connect with these people and get them to part with their hard earned pennies in return for their product or service. it is up to the social network to control the flow of this and facebook does try very hard to protect its users and ban the spammers but with the recent privacy out cry how much trust can we put into what facebook says.
When a social network platform stops listening to its users, it dies. By listening to its users facebook will continue its rein as the king of social networking, but I personally see this coming to an end when people want quality engagement from real people. I believe the online community will cry out for real engagement as the real world moves more and more online. This will give birth to a place where there is in fact less choice, less possibility of dumping your mindless drivel and being actual online personas. People will always need people and social real engagement.
I personally am excited to see what is around the corner. What do you think will be the next big thing with the online world?
Do you think facebook will live forever?