I’m not a prophet and certainly was not a part of the group of scientists at Princeton who predicted that Facebook will die out like a slow bubonic plague (ugh, nasty!). But I’m in the business of Business, and I like to call out strategic loopholes when I see it.
Here are 3 reasons why I think Facebook will meet its demise sooner than later-
1. The obvious reason – Data privacy and Cambridge Analytica. The episode that heightened the roars to boycott Facebook, delete Facebook, let’s-do-a-mass-exodus-from-Facebook, is probably only the beginning of many more such events that will finally cause Facebook to abandon its business model. And if there’s no business, there’s unlikely going to be Facebook. This is obvious, so let’s talk about the other two reasons instead.
2. People will realize their ego is not worth $400 billion. That’s currently Facebook’s net market value – all made on, perhaps to precariously put it, people’s ego. For how does Facebook really reward its users? When people create content for YouTube, Google plays fair trade and pays its content creators via ad revenue. Instagram (I know it’s part of FB, but it’s not FB!) can catapult anyone to fame, make them millions in return for their painstakingly curated photography. If people use Pinterest, they do so to get inspired, save all their favorite things and recoup all their time spent on it in exchange for refreshing eye candy – true value for time and effort spent on Pinterest! Creating content on LinkedIn allows you to build your professional credibility, which could mean future $$$. Twitter does the same with lesser fuss (character count, I mean) than Facebook. The point here is, none of these other social media platforms are as rich as Facebook, but all of them provide real value to you as a User for using it. Facebook, in stark contrast, makes money off of every piece of content you put on their platform and the only value you ever get out of it is- wait for it- Likes! I’ve seen people spend all their dinner time with friends taking photos just to upload to Facebook – a good moment ruined and Facebook doesn’t pay you for doing that. Instead, Facebook is collecting money because you are doing that. So the point here is that, as long as people are happy boosting their ego, I mean, Likes, Facebook will survive, selling your data, selling your content.
3. A younger and new platform called, say, Eccentrica, is born – Imagine a platform with no ads, resembles the scrap-booky nature of Orkut, few “business pages” and more friends’ notes, has themed and fun chat rooms (these were huge during the 90’s!), may or may not have a news feed, ton of games, and other bells and whistles that doesn’t scream old, yankee-daddy like Facebook does or will in a few years. If any platform comes out that will keep bored teenagers engaged hours together, that’s it- it’s death for all other platforms – whether Instagram or Snapchat.
So my conclusion? Facebook is losing its value to common users fast. If you argue that it helps you connect with friends, I’d say, so does Skype or Whatsapp, LinkedIn and Instagram. If it lets you meet like minded people, there’s a safer platform like Meetup.com or Hello.com. Basically, for any feature you say Facebook has, there are other dedicated, better quality platforms for it. You’re asking me then what it is that Facebook should do to survive? I wish I knew! A business that makes money off of other people’s efforts and still existed for so many years – beats me. It’s like asking me how do black holes exist when everything else is matter.
Maybe Facebook could consider the above mentioned points and do something to resolve the shortcomings. Perhaps the prediction that Facebook will become a newspaper of sorts will come true. But at least newspapers create their own content and then charge advertisers money for it. Will Facebook do that?
Full Disclosure – I’m an actively passive user of Facebook. Joined for business purposes, stayed on out of curiosity (for the product, not for what’s happening in others’ lives!)