Jenna Wortham is part of a growing trend: people who find that the Facebook social experience is waning in interest, partly because others are spending less time there, but also because they are migrating to messaging-based instead of profile-based apps:
Just a few years ago, most of my online social activity revolved around Facebook. I was an active member of several Facebook groups, including one that helped me and others find apartments and sell used items. Another group was wonderful for organizing midnight movie screenings. And I used Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest achievements of my sisters and their children, and the many members of my extended family.
But lately, my formerly hyperactive Facebook life has slowed to a crawl. I’ve found that most of my younger relatives have graduated from high school and have deleted their accounts or whittled them down until there is barely any personal information left. As for my own account, I rarely add photographs or post updates about what I’ve been doing. Often, the only interesting thing on the site is the latest Buzzfeed article that my friends are reading — and I can go directly to Buzzfeed for that.
Is it just me, or is Facebook fading?
The company has long denied that public interest in it may be waning — or that social upstarts may be luring away users. But this month, during a quarterly earnings call, David A. Ebersman, Facebook’s chief financial officer, made a startling acknowledgment. Facebook had noticed “a decrease in daily users, specifically among younger teens,” he said. Those teenagers, mostly American and likely around 13 or 14, weren’t deleting their accounts, he said, but they were checking the site less often.
The comment confirmed what many of us had suspected but were never able to prove — that the service had become less appealing for at least some of its users. And though Facebook is still the default social network for many people, perhaps it is no longer as crucial as it once was for social survival.
as it has become nearly universal, Facebook may have lost some of its edge — or, at the very least, it may no longer feel novel or original to some of its users. It’s possible that it has lost some of the cachet that made it appealing, especially for young users.
Many people have become much more wary of the longer-term implications of sharing on Facebook and on other social media. In recent months, it has become clear that seemingly harmless antics online can lead to serious repercussions in the real world.Young people may be particularly vulnerable.
Those cracks in Facebook’s veneer have provided a market opening for other messaging services among young people in the United States and worldwide. Mr. Sundar calls those services — which include WhatsApp, Line (popular in Japan), Snapchat, WeChat of China and the Korean service KakaoTalk — “mini social media,” because they satisfy one desire among teenagers: keeping in constant communication.
“That is an aspect of being a teen — they love chatting with their friends and they are always on their phones,” he said.
With the lightning speed at which social media is evolving, it is at least possible that Facebook is already entering a midlife crisis. Could we be approaching peak Facebook?
The answer is yes, but advertisers might find selling to 30-, 40- and 50-somethings ok for a while, but as Facebook starts to seem like the Sears of social networks the kids will be off finding the newest pop-up stores as far from the mall as possible.