Did You Hear? Facebook is Done

So I woke up this morning to find that the press has apparently begun trumpeting Facebook’s demise. As is always the case with a regurgitated news story, it’s hard to tell where it started and when. But several publications, including the Hollywood Reporter and the UK’s Guardian, claim that Facebook is in trouble for two reasons: its growth has slowed, and several million people have left. (Although I’m not sure how they’re defining “left,” because you can’t delete your Facebook profile; you can only “deactivate” it.)

Even as a non-expert in this field, I can’t help but think it’s a little early to start saying that Facebook is on the decline. Isn’t it possible that it’s reached a saturation point: everyone who would have ever considered joining it has done so? Facebook is kind of a product, but it isn’t like a cell phone. You don’t get a new one every year or two as the technology improves. How could its growth possibly not slow, if not outright stop? And isn’t it also possible that some of those millions who are leaving are people who just joined it “to see what all the fuss was about” and realized it wasn’t for them?

But I guess that’s a less interesting article to read; it’s so much better to just start talking about Facebook being over. Sure enough, the usually-awesome NYMag had a little news brief about it this morning, the headline of which claimed that Facebook is “hemorrhaging” users, and which concludes with a quote from an expert about Facebook not being cool anymore.

Two things about this bother me. First of all, it’s just another example of the desire of the press (and consumers) to find the next new thing. I wonder if the issue is just that Facebook has been at the top for too long and people are bored of reporting or reading about it. So now we have to declare that Facebook is “over” so we can find the new thing! Then we’ll have something new to talk about!

Secondly, what’s with the whole idea of Facebook not being “cool” anymore? There are people who consume online and electronic products because they’re early adopters or tech enthusiasts. Then there are people who only care about new technology insofar as it adds to their lives. Facebook, so far, has fit the bill for many people. I’m a pretty tech-savvy person, and I use Facebook to communicate with people I care about. At this point, I even have friends who I almost exclusively talk to through Facebook because they are terrible e-mailers. I don’t care if it’s cool or not!

Look, if we’re going to talk about Facebook’s demise, let’s do it at the right time: some point in the future when their privacy issues finally come to a head and users get angry enough to do more than create a Facebook group protesting it.

Hollywood Reporter
Guardian
NYMag

6 thoughts on “Did You Hear? Facebook is Done”

  1. I think the problem with Facebook is that it has changed dramatically from when it first started. When I first had a facebook in high school, I had two or three hundred friends; obviously, they weren’t all my “friends” but they all came from more or less the same social group. I could post a status about finals, or being hungover without being totally irrlevant or offensive to most of them. But I now have professors, potential enmployers, and activists contacts on my friends list. Most people I know have changed the way they use facebook in a similar way. I tried “cleaning out” my friends list, but I missed a lot of networking opportunities by limiting my friends list to my actual friends. I hope networks like Path catch on as a replacement for early Facebook (but I don’t think anything will replace current Facebook).

  2. From Farhad Manjoo’s article today -Facebook defines an “active” user as someone who logs in to the site at least once during the month.) In other words, 6 million Americans decided last month that they had better things to do than check Facebook. http://www.slate.com/id/2296932/ The article also discussed the saturation issue that you mentioned. Growth can’t be sustained forever so FB needs to come up with innovative ways to profit from the current user base. I think they can do that.

  3. Great article! I really like the idea of Facebook’s growth being unsustainable in the long-term. It makes sense and I hadn’t thought of that when reading some of the articles mentioned above. One minor point – I managed to delete my account about 18 months ago. Of course it’s possible that things have changed but this article explains how to do so and seems to be recent: http://www.wikihow.com/Permanently-Delete-a-Facebook-Account
    Just in case anyone is interested in abandoning ship!

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