Facebook has been the pioneer for social media everywhere. It’s been credited with taking social media out of its position as a niche area and bringing it to the general population. It’s something that the likes of MySpace and Bebo could never accomplish. Yet another study has been released predicting the end of Facebook.
Joshya Spechler and John Cannarella, from Princeton University’s mechanical and aerospace department, predict Facebook has peaked and will be gone in 2017. The study says in the next three years Facebook will lose about 80% of its users, when using its peak membership number as a base value.
Facebook will be ten-years-old in February 2014. These studies aren’t anything new, and nobody is under the delusion that Facebook will be the one social media network that never dies, but will it disappear so soon?
The Young Crowd
Social media has always been built off of the backs of the young. Only ten years later is it common for adults to create accounts on sites like Facebook. And this is part of the reason why there are so many predictions about the death of Mark Zuckerberg’s creation.
A European study recently focused on eight countries in the European Union (EU). The Global Social Media Impact Study looked at 16-18 year olds from these countries and found Facebook is practically gone.
It revealed older users, especially parents, have saturated the social network. Younger people are increasingly opting for alternative platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
Daniel Miller, the professor of material culture at the University College London, said for the younger crowd Facebook is almost a dead entity. He commented on the embarrassment many children feel about having their parents see their photos and status updates.
And this is an important point to make. Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t just target the young in his marketing campaigns. It’s clear that he has paid a great amount of attention to gearing Facebook to everybody. It’s led to him claiming record profits, but no social media network can fulfil the needs of every single segment of the population.
For many children, particularly older teenagers, the idea of having their parents on the same social network is unacceptable. Facebook no longer has the ‘cool’ factor amongst its original target audience.
We should expect to see the demographics shift further as Facebook is forced to confront the fact its target audience has changed.
Security and Privacy
Security and privacy have always been a big issue. Awareness of privacy issues has increased customer demand for more protections against hackers and sneaky third-party marketing companies. Its well-known Facebook has been one of the main targets of privacy campaigners.
In one study entitled Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking produced by Stefan Stieger and his team from the University of Vienna, they investigated the main reason people leave Facebook. They interviewed 300 regular users of that site who had recently quit.
Facebook is one of the few social media websites that do not have sufficient protections in place. They did originally, but they steadily removed them. That’s what caused so much outrage.
On Twitter, there are no such problems. Historically, they’ve refused to supply data on their users unless ordered to for legal reasons. They’ve also refused to share data on their clients to Google for use in their search engines.
These social media networks have made themselves more attractive than Facebook. It might not seem like a big deal, but it is.
Cybercrime is on the rise in every area of the world. One of the biggest crimes is the selling on of private information by criminals. Cisco’s Annual Security Report for 2013 revealed web hosting centres are a major launching point for cybercriminals.
It’s why if you look at web hosting reviews it’s common to see people talking about how secure the hosting platform is. For example, Fat Cow reviews regularly mention security above customer support and features.
What Does this Mean?
Overall, it’s clear Facebook needs to change itself if it’s going to survive. It will never recapture the younger crowd. It already has too many adults on its website and nothing they can do will change that.
They can stem the loss of membership by changing their privacy rules, though. Furthermore, by reinventing itself and trying to be what Twitter and Instagram aren’t, Facebook might be able to establish itself again.
It won’t reach peak membership numbers again, but there’s no reason to believe it’s going to be long abandoned by 2017.
Image Credit: Creative Commons – Flickr User Sean MacEntee