Itzhak Mashiah

Users Abandoning Facebook? Three Catalysts

PEW Research Center recent report described the rapid users abandoning Facebook. According to report 42% of American adult users of Facebook took a short break (several weeks or more); 26% of the people who participated in the survey said that they deleted the app from their phones; and 54% changed and adjusted their privacy settings on Facebook.

Those findings are joining several other crises Facebook had recentlly – starting the Cambridge Analytics story, Fake news issues and the public accusations about problematic use of the platform in the US presidential elections.

True, most of us are still using the platform – and it is still the most popular social media channel in big parts on the globe – but without any doubt there is a fast movement of abandoning. What are the reasons? Dealing with this question requires deep sociological research – meanwhile here are few optional catalysts that are causing Mark Zuckerberg lose more and more friends. Except of the functional claims people embarrassing due to the use of a technological product or solution – like Facebook (“waste of time”, “concerns about privacy and security”, “lack of interest of sharing personal information” etc) there are few other cultural macro issues which require our attention.

Public Perception – Double-edged sword 

As the most popular social media website it’s not surprising that Facebook getting a very intensive media coverage. With her 2.2 billion monthly active users today – it seems that the traditional media channels (Newspaper, radio, TV etc) are continuing in the massive coverage about “Facebook news”. Globally almost everywhere we can hear and read stories and updates about Mark Zuckerberg and his giant blue internet community.  Every Communication student knows that the traditional media is shaping the public narrative – It’s true even in the social media era. Indeed, since her first days – Facebook aroused great interest among reporters and editors. At first – the dominant perception was that Facebook is a changing our lives, culture and economy (the invention that changes our way of communication). something changed – now Facebook is dealing with ongoing media crisis.

The recent events from the past few months also became hot news topics. and framed with negatively smell. The leading team of Facebook itself – probably understands that the traditional media is working as a double edged sword. The media can nominate you as a life-changing platform in one day and as a “culture-killer-web- platform” the other day. In the Facebook evolution today – it seems that the media emphasize the second type.

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A variety of options

Basic search in Google Trends tool – shows a significant high volume of public engagement about Facebook issues. Indeed, it is still the most influencing platform almost everywhere. Just like we can measure things outside of the organization – so can do Facebook internally.

Like every other technological organization we can assume they consistently tracks down the numbers behind the platform; for example, the amount of users staying in the platform each and every day hour and minute. We live in a very measurable era- everything is breaking into small insights, those pieces of information are designed to optimize the decision making of the organization.

Theoretically and practically – statistic are essential for the organization growth. But in case of giants like Facebook – statistics are not enough. The real User’s mood is a hard parameter for measuring. In fact it’s even deeper than that- the growth of other platforms and web possibilities are making Facebook life even more difficult. Recall, the beginning of Facebook was in a pretty pioneered atmosphere.

Today, the variety of new options standing in front of the users is optional reason for leaving the “old” one. Within the great success of Facebook, these days, young entrepreneurs becoming even more impassioned about inventing the next big thing. Yes, this phenomenon is doing a great service for users, who can now choose the specific and customized platform for them – in another hand it’s flatten the internet more than ever. Anyhow, this is a catalyst for breaking up of Facebook.

Gaps of Generations

Given the frequent launch of new web platforms there is a possible scatter of users. In fact-  one generation can’t live online in peace with another. Rather, the younger generation doesn’t really want to be with the “older” users in one place. This basic concept is true even for the great-great Facebook.

As evidence in few places in the world you can see of abandoning of platform based on the experience dissatisfaction. Generation who used to be with peers and get in touch with people who’s holding same interest – don’t really wants to see or show his internet-life to his parents or grandparents. Facebook as an experienced corporation perfectly understands that – so they went to acquisitions strategy (Instagram, WhatsApp etc – Platforms that appeal to additional audiences). As far as helping Facebook platform itself keeping users stable this approach is limited.

Gaps of generation is a natural step in every life-circle of tech company. The question remaining is what can they do with that? continue with innovation. There is no other way.

About the Author
Itzhak Mashiah, Ph.D. He studies media, communication, and the power of high-tech and innovation in society.
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