Five reasons Facebook may falter

Has Facebook’s appeal peaked? We look at the evidence.

For many of its 1.2 billion active users, Facebook may seem something of a permanent part of life. But we survived well enough without it before, and several influential voices think we may see the end of the Facebook era sooner rather than later.

We take a look at some of the key issues that could mark the beginning of the end for the world’s largest social network.

FB 1

A team of researchers from Princeton University believes that Facebook’s rise and inevitable fall will be something akin to the way virulent infectious diseases spread before eventually dying off. Ideas often follow this SIR (susceptible, infected, recovered) model of disease, and the rise and fall of MySpace also followed this pattern. MySpace peaked in 2007, and is now barely used. Has our susceptibility to Facebook’s charms peaked? The researchers think so, and believe the social network will lose up to 80% of its users by 2017. According to Google, searches for Facebook peaked in 2012, so maybe we are on the cusp of immunity.

 

FB 2

You don’t join social networks with the aim of becoming sad and lonely, but that is the effect Facebook has, according to a 2013 study by the University of Michigan.  The study found that the more time people spent on Facebook, the worse they felt, and that over time, this effect impacted their levels of satisfaction with life.

A more recent study, by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, Yale University and Facebook, of over 100 million people, has found that emotions described on Facebook are surprisingly contagious. Both positive and negative moods can sweep through the network, set off by as little as experiencing poor weather.

 

FB 3

For many of Facebook’s users, the constant recording and selling of data is a bugbear which has been worth putting up with. Users have to abide by Facebook’s terms, which means signing over ownership of anything posted on the site (including photos and personal data) so it can be used by advertisers. A US study last year found privacy concerns among social media users are growing and if this continues, Facebook will have to give greater control to its users to keep them on the site.

 

FB 4

As one of the biggest tech companies in the world you’d think Facebook would take its responsibility for customers’ data seriously. However, the social media giant has been repeatedly breached by hackers, meaning passwords have been stolen, phone numbers and email addresses revealed and private messages posted in public for all to see. One technical glitch, which Facebook apologised for, was around for a year before it was corrected.

 

FB 5

As mums and dads across the world have begun to get to grips with Facebook, that’s been the cue for young people to stage an exodus. At the end of last year, Facebook announced it had seen a “decrease in daily users, specifically among teens”.

This may also be because Facebook has been accused of not evolving as quickly as the competition. Its search engine has been widely discredited before even being launched in the UK, with Google co-founder Sergey Brin saying it posed no threat and Mark Zuckerberg admitting it was “generous” to suggest it worked even half the time.

Is this the beginning of the end? Let us know what you think.

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