It’s Time to Rethink Facebook

5
251 views

Share on LinkedIn


Facebook User Growth

You’re thinking of leaving Facebook. I’m thinking of leaving Facebook. You want to leave because you feel like your data is not safe, the customer experience is not what it used to be and you’re creeped out by the contextual advertising and oh yea, the political vitriol. It may be time to evaluate the value of your relationship with Facebook.



You feel this way because in September of 2018 there was a data breach that affected 50 million users, and you might have been one of them. That’s a legit reason. Then there was the Cambridge Analytica scandal. You know, the one in which the political consulting firm connected to the Trump campaign, harvested the sensitive data of nearly 87 million Facebook users without their explicit permission, and then did something with it; but you’re not sure what “it” is. I’m not either, but that’s a pretty good reason to leave too.. And then there’s that whole contextual advertising thing taking place on the social network. You search for sunglasses and low and behold your Facebook pages are filled with Ray Ban ads. It IS creepy, especially when we start to fold AI into the mix (Are they listening to me?)

Regardless of your level of discontent, chances are you might be looking around and wondering out loud, is there something better? If you’re in the United States and you’re between the ages of 25 and 34, you’re wondering out loud the most, as this group has the most Facebook users at 50 million+.  In Europe, the feeling is no less different.  creating the global sense that Facebook users need more than what Facebook is giving. Or is it what they are taking? Depends on who you’re talking to.

The crux of the issue isn’t that you want to leave Facebook just because of the data breaches, the contextual advertising and the never-ending political finger pointing. The real raison d’être could be that you just don’t like the user experience anymore. I know I don’t. It has grown stale and repetitive. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you’ve grown weary of seeing the same people posting over and over about the same things, the same dialogue, over and over and over again. You like them as people for the most part but now they’re getting on your nerves. Just walk away you’re told, don’t log on. You try, but Facebook is everyone’s favorite dumpster fire, train wreck, car wreck, church choir, food-court, public drunk, on full display. You can’t turn away. It’s a voyeur’s delight.

Just for some perspective, do you know how many of the 2.2 billion users that Facebook has, have bailed due to the data breach? A lot. in some cases, upwards of 40% have decided to take “a break” from the social network. So my question is this. Has Facebook lost the trust of its core users or the fringe users? Forty percent is a lot.

Data breaches aside, and for some additional perspective, what do users like about the Facebook UX? For some, it’s graphic, it’s visual and it’s conversational. For others, it’s all about the connective aspect of the platform and the ability to “lurk” on what’s occurring in other peoples’ lives. Still some like the fact that the barrier of entry into the collective pulse of what is current, is low and seamless. The graphical layout is semi-easy on the eyes and the browsing experience is uber simple and it’s content rich. For many, it has replaced what AOL used to be to the masses-an internet portal into the world around us, except with more of a direct lifeline to our friends, their friends, our families, our likes and of course our dislikes. But Facebook is flawed.



As AOL eventually became overrun by “better” alternatives and we all became pretty weary of another AOL disc in the mail, this too shall pass with Facebook. Regardless of the fact that there are 2 billion active users on the social network, we will move on to something newer and shinier. It’s inevitable and the numbers are slowly starting to say the same thing.

At its peak, AOL had over 35 million active users, and though those numbers pale in comparison to Facebook, those were really big numbers back then. However, if you had told those 35 million users that eventually AOL would be deemed irrelevant in less than 10 years, they might have laughed. So what is currently out there that might replace Facebook? Here’s a list of contenders/pretenders “other” than Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snap, in no particular order. Peruse them in depth at your leisure. I don’t endorse them, I just found them.

  1. Diaspora
  2. Minds
  3.  Raftr 
  4. Mastodon
  5. Ello
  6. Family Wall
  7. Next Door
  8. 23 Snaps
  9. Edmodo
  10. MeWe
  11. Steemit
  12. Vero
  13. Sociall.io

So what will it take for these networks, or a future network to succeed? Will it be a data thing? A privacy thing? Will it be something in which we pay to play? In my opinion, it’s going to take something that is not Facebook in the least bit. Something that will be completely different and more experiential. Perhaps it’s VR or AR based. It will be equivalent of the Model T versus the horse. When Facebook came on the scene, there was nothing like it. There were things like it already such as MySpace and or Friendster, but we had seen nothing quite like it.



Clearly social networking and social networks fill a niche and a need to communicate, to share, to emote and to vent, but at what cost? When does Facebook jump the shark?

5 COMMENTS

  1. All institutions have a life cycle. Through metrics and general awareness, it becomes obvious when they have run their course. When their relevance in people’s lives, and the institution’s commitment to its stakeholders, can’t offer sufficient personal value, the laws of entropy and disinterest set in. That’s what has been happening to Facebook as a slow leak, much as it did to AOL (and Myspace).

    One of our local TV sports anchors has, for years, been using the substitute name “Wastebook” for Facebook. He considers it a waste of his time to check on his friends’ vacation pictures, or pictures of their kids playing chess, or their cute puppies, or plates of food, or dopey videos. Lyrics from a song in the show/movie “Gigi” say it pretty well for me:

    ‘Life is thrilling as can be
    SIMPLY NOT MY CUP OF TEA
    It’s intriguing
    IT’S FATIGUING
    IT’S THE SAME DULL WORLD WHEREVER YOU GO
    WHATEVER PLACE YOU ARE AT
    THE EARTH IS ROUND
    BUT EVERYTHING ON IT IS FLAT

    Don’t tell me Venice has no lure
    JUST A TOWN WITHOUT A SEWER
    The leaning tower I adore
    INDECISION IS A BORE
    But think of the thrill in a bullfight in Seville where the bull is uncontrolled and he charges at a bull matador!
    IT’S A BORE!

    The French have a great word for what has become of Facebook – ennui (boredom). If an individual is using Facebook to promote or support a business, it’s useful. For everyone else, it’s very little more than non-engaging chewing gum for the brain.

  2. Michael, you had me at “When their relevance in people’s lives, and the institution’s commitment to its stakeholders, can’t offer sufficient personal value, the laws of entropy and disinterest set in.” The great debate is on what’s next. My guess is it will be VR/AR/MR related. More experiential. But will it be free?

    🙂

  3. It will be interesting to learn what FB’s Q418 earnings are (due out today), and how analysts will spin the results. Like you, I have curtailed my FB usage significantly in the last 12 months. I don’t malign the company for hawking content that for many is trivial, banal, stupid, or what have you. There’s clearly a strong consumer appetite for it. Who am I to judge? After all, not everything that people do online has to have a “business purpose.” It’s a scary world. People need diversion, so they go to FB. I watch Colbert or The Daily Show. What’s the diff?

    FB’s core difficulty isn’t that some of its users believe it ‘stale and repetitive’. That’s a risk many businesses face, and FB has the means to mitigate whatever churn it’s experiencing over its alleged dullness. I don’t work with the company, so I first have to presume they recognize it as a problem.

    Instead, FB’s greatest business challenge is internal governance, and the inordinate power their CEO, Mark Zuckerberg enjoys. As Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Zuckerberg has made destructive decisions that has produced all the bad outcomes you mentioned – and more. Who is going to reign him in? That’s a rhetorical question, and based on his brazen actions and his testimony in front of Congress where he outwitted his dim panel of inquisitors, he clearly knows the answer. FB might be boring to some, but I think we need to nail that problem yesterday.

  4. I don’t know Andrew, let’s not forget that Facebook does have a board. So decisions are not made in a vacuum. That being said, there is such a thing as a good idea that is executed poorly and that seems to be a common thing of late. But to your point about power, data is the new oil and Zuckerberg is no different than the oil barons of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Some can be reigned in and others? Well, eventually we all learn from their mistakes but not after they’ve made their money.

  5. Hi Marc: thanks for your comment. The issue is that Zuckerberg holds two roles at FB: CEO and Chairman. That duality gives him power that CEO’s-minus-chairmanship don’t enjoy. (Please see: https://www.thestreet.com/technology/funds-back-proposal-to-remove-zuckerberg-as-facebook-chairman-14748426) .

    Also, it’s important not to assume that CEO’s are checked or constrained by dint of having a board they report to. Wells Fargo’s John Stumpf benefited from a compliant board that chose to ignore the risks he brought to the company – and there were many. Post-scandal, the board was roundly impugned for their negligence (please see https://money.cnn.com/2017/04/24/investing/wells-fargo-scandal-board-annual-meeting/index.html)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here