No I’m not years out of date… I’m pondering if Facebook has gone too far with privacy, over-sharing and continual changes that it’ll go the way of MySpace i.e. in decline and then mass exodus?
This is a post I started on Feb 15th (originally titled “Is 2011 the year Facebook goes into decline”), I wrote a post about the life-cycle of social networks but wasn’t bold enough to publish it – I wish I had.
The recent changes (and impending change of profiles into timelines) on Facebook for passive sharing (read, listened) from explicit sharing have generated a lot of debate:
Is Facebook’s seamless sharing wrong or not?
(both from RWW amusingly)
…and there are plenty more discussing these changes in minute details, I’ve added my thoughts to the second of those posts in the comments.
There is a more philosophical question here that I haven’t seen asked yet – what are the factors that make people change social network?
Let’s think about MySpace vs Facebook and some of the factors that caused the exodus:
- MySpace had the critical mass, it was the clear leader until a couple of years ago.
- Facebook offered a simpler, cleaner interface that made connecting with your friends easier.
- MySpace got bought by News Corp and was seen as a big company rather than a cool young upstart.
- MySpace “got old”.
How do these stack up with Facebook?
- Facebook is the clear leader, that could change.
- Facebook is rapidly getting more cluttered and the volume of information is creating, in some, a feeling of information overload.
- Facebook is now seen as a big scary, privacy dismissing beast.
- Facebook has your mum, gran and aunty on it… it’s “got old”
If people leave Facebook it will be because:
- They feel they’ve lost too much control
- The signal to noise ratio gets out of balance
- There is another big privacy issue
- As a business user, they change the rules of the game too many times
- The early adopters move to somewhere else and people follow
So where next?
No, I don’t think so – It won’t be to go to more-of-the-same and whilst some wrote it off too early (before they launched business pages, was too early to judge in my opinion) Google+ doesn’t have these key differences the next big social network needs to become the new #1.
I thought Diaspora could of been a candidate, it needs some muscle behind it to grow into those shoes. One thing I’m certain though is that the game is changing, users are uneasy and if I was Facebook I’d be worried.
As ever, I’d love to know your thoughts.