Predicting the Death of Facebook

No, this is not a pro-Google+ article. This is simply an observation of trends that lead me to believe Facebook is showing signs of decay. Think back years ago to the great migration from MySpace to Facebook. Why was it that millions of people were willing to part with a semi-established group of friends to start anew on a relatively unknown platform.

One word: Simplicity.

MySpace was the PC to Facebook’s Apple-like interface. The lack of glitters and other animated gifs was an attraction to rival that of a bug zapper. Take Twitter for example, you can post a status update of 140 characters or less. That’s it. Sure you can include a link and in some cases it will show a bit of media on the side but overall, it’s text. If it’s not amazing text, people move on.

Apple has built itself as the company who is more likely to remove a feature from a system to make sure that it’s strengths aren’t overwhelmed by junk. Many PCs have every feature known to man and while a very (and I mean VERY) small crowd can appreciate this approach, Apple has always proven to have the better design that can be used and understood by the masses. People will be upset by a missing feature far less than they’ll be overwhelmed or confused by too many. It’s just in our DNA to want clutter but need simplicity.

As Facebook grows and continues to allow users to include everything from photos to Farmville requests to Spotify to images from and other randomness, the cascade of clutter begins to build in a way we aren’t quite ready to handle. I would venture to say that 90% of what we think is worth posting and will be enjoyed by others simply isn’t. Of the 10% that is, we generally lose it in the enormity of junk scrolling down the page. It’s made worse when Facebook’s algorithm that decides what’s important and what isn’t often tosses the good and spotlights the bad. A popular way to view Facebook is on an iPhone or mobile device by narrowing down the timeline just to Status Updates.

A few months ago, Google+ hit the stage to oohs and aahs for it’s beauty and visual simplicity. I simply saw another missed opportunity as Facebook users aren’t quite ready to abandon their tried and true social network. Twitter has luckily rested on the sidelines of the networks seeming to function on its own without trying to compete with the “bigger” networks when in reality, it’s only the open-format that makes it different that Facebook’s “friend” system.

Everyone is on Facebook. Everyone. This means that in order for another network to take over, it will require practically everyone to migrate to a new home and start all over. It takes time to build the connections we’ve made and users won’t readily jump ship if they don’t feel their friends will follow. So while I do not believe a feasible alternative currently exists, I do believe Facebook to be digging its own grave of cluttered timelines and “poking” the shovel deeper into the dirt. It’s simply a matter of time before we either replace it with something simpler or stop returning to altogether while waiting for something better.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below and keep the conversation going.

One comment

  1. I completely agree with you, except for the part where everybody is on facebook. Everybody is on facebook. I went off about 2 years ago, because like you mentioned, it was no longer simple.

    My timeline was so cluttered with information about other people that did not matter to me, I stopped checking it. I enjoyed having the ability to “check in” with friends now and then, but it became complicated. In addition, Facebook’s privacy issues had gotten out of control. Although you can set/customize privacy, it’s not always as as one with think.

    A friend of mine thought all her pictures were “friends only” and that nobody had rights to them, but when she accepted an invitation for some quiz app, she agreed to the apps conditions (without reading them, because how many people really do?). A few months later she was in Romania, and found her family on a wall advertising a grocery store (small world). Turns out their image was legally used, consent given from that app.

    Now the above mentioned could have been avoided had my friend paid more attention, but that in itself is something most users don’t do.

    Truth be told I think even if Google+ managed to take off (which it’s not really done) or if something better came along, it would only be a matter of time until it clogged up just as myspace and facebook did. It’s just the nature of social media. With that, I’m not sure another feasible alternative could exist, because eventually users will want more of it, and it too will clog.

    For me, I stick to twitter. It’s very design is about being concise, and simple.

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