What’s eating Facebook?Facebook suffered a huge scandal after it was revealed that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had managed to access the personal information of nearly 87 million users. Two months after the scandal, many of Facebook’s investors fled.
Facebook suffered a huge scandal after it was revealed that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had managed to access the personal information of nearly 87 million users. Two months after the scandal, many of Facebook’s investors fled.
When it comes to social media, Facebook remains number one, with over two billion active users every month. But back in 2004, when Facebook was just a sapling, it was competing with a large number of popular social media platforms like Friendster and MySpace. Facebook, first registered as the Thefacebook.com, was initially targeted at Harvard University students. But later, the website flourished and rose to such heights as few had imagined.
These days, once again, a number of new social media platforms have emerged, challenging Facebook’s dominance. But Facebook remains on top, largely due to incumbency but also because of its ease of use. It doesn’t take much effort to get acquainted with Facebook’s features and it becomes an irreplaceable tool for both regular users and online marketers. But despite all the popularity and its widespread network, Facebook’s dominance is fading.
According to recent data from Pew Research Center, which sampled users aged 18 and up, 42 percent of those surveyed have taken a break from social media for several weeks or more. Furthermore, 44 percent of American users between the ages of 18 to 29 years have deleted the Facebook app in recent months. Such a large number leaving Facebook is alarming for the California-based company. But this trend wasn’t just in the US—studies have shown that most existing users are active on Facebook for its Messenger app or its events pages. This kind of data shows that people and companies are getting over Facebook; some of them even seem to be getting over social media in general. Here are some of the reasons why Facebook is really dying.
A few months back, Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of the US Congress, answering questions about user privacy. Facebook had just suffered a huge scandal after it was revealed that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had managed to access the personal information of nearly 87 million users.
Two months after the scandal, many of Facebook’s investors fled, partly influenced by low growth in the number of Facebook users and partly due to the fallout from Cambridge Analytica. When the investors took back their shares, Facebook’s value plummeted by $119 billion in a single day, the highest one-day loss for a company in history.
After the incident, Facebook’s ad marketing campaigns also started going downhill. Many advertisers stopped investing in marketing on Facebook and began to choose platforms like YouTube and Instagram to boost sales. Just after the scandal, the amount of money spent on advertising on YouTube tripled; on Instagram, it quadrupled. This was a huge blow for Facebook. And to avoid more misfortune, Facebook released apology ads, which lasted for a few weeks. But despite all the apologies, users were still not persuaded. After the incident, many users realised how vulnerable they were when it came to their privacy, prompting many to completely abandon Facebook. This was not the first chink in Facebook’s armour, but it was definitely one of the largest.
Strict control over the news feed
In recent days, Facebook has been strictly bottlenecking the organic reach of advertisers who refuse to pay for publicity. This attitude has been giving advantages to those who are willing to pay for marketing and thus, increasing their reach. Since the efforts of numerous pages that are unwilling to pay for advertising now goes in vain, many content creators and page owners are getting tired of Facebook and leaving.
On the user’s side, most are fed up with sponsored posts and not seeing posts from their favourite pages on their news feed. This frustration exists for both kinds of users—those who understand Facebook as an advertising platform and those who don’t. This strictly commercial approach from Facebook to squeeze more money from page owners has been one of the primary reasons Facebook is losing its grip.
New platforms for young people
The growing popularity of Facebook has driven older people into Facebook and younger people out of Facebook. One study showed that with the increasing number of grownups, youths confessed to losing interest in Facebook as the platform was becoming ‘uncool’. Teenagers and youths would prefer their older family members, relatives, and others not know of their activities. Most teens would rather enjoy their freedom of expression without adults seeing what they are really up to. This rapid colonisation of Facebook by grownups has caused the youth to leave in droves to new platform, primarily Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Tinder.
Politics and opinions
Social media, in general, can be a great and positive platform, but it can also be a cruel and opinionated place. This was clearly reflected during and after political events like Brexit and US presidential elections.
Facebook, as the most popular social media platform, is where most people share their opinions, which can be both relevant and irrelevant. However, with Facebook’s poor policing of trolls and sometimes unintentionally promoting negative posts to the top of users’ feeds, the comments section can spark a lot of controversy. While it is not just Facebook that allows the freedom of speech regardless of nature to an extent, it suffers the most in terms of backlash, as initially the platform was primarily centred around communication among friends and family members. Since everybody would love to be involved in a platform where there is positivity and philanthropy, users surely would not want to engage with a platform where ‘fake’ news and political trolling divide users. This has been another reason for users shifting away from Facebook.
In the end, it appears that the era of Facebook’s dominance might be over. In the same way that Facebook displaced Myspace and others to assert itself, Instagram, Snapchat and the like are displacing Facebook. It remains to be seen whether any initiatives from Zuckerberg can stem the outflow, but it is highly unlikely that Facebook will regain the kind of steep upward trajectory it had in the past.