The first observation: all the 14-16 year olds I know don't have Facebook.
Summary of the reasons: they don't want annoyances and privacy nuisances, they don't want political scuffles. Both things that Zuckerberg's creature abounds with.
I asked them if any of their friends had Facebook. They laughed in my face.
They told me: "Facebook is for mothers and grandparents". It's true?
The big F creaks
In truth, the reality for Facebook is much worse. The granite monopoly of this social media will face 5 challenges in the coming years. They are all potentially insurmountable.
Generation Z doesn't care much
The under 18s moved on. Tik Tok, Snap, perhaps IG. They want end-to-end encryption, they don't want to be monitored, they are afraid of online bullying and hate speech, and they don't like ads.
Above all, they don't want to be on the same social networks as moms, dads, aunts, uncles and grandparents. For them Facebook is really dead, indeed: a death.
To be clear, Facebook is still the social leader among the under 17s, but I consider it impossible for it to maintain that lead for long. In fact, it already has 2,6% fewer teenagers than in the second quarter of 2019. Facebook could potentially launch some sort of social just for kids under 18, but kids probably wouldn't use it anyway.
Millennials are ready to quit
Even among some of my collaborators and friends younger than me I notice defections. People who after seeing the documentary "The Social Dilemma" aim to let go. Because let's face it: Facebook is a hate machine, the kind of place where negative content goes viral much faster and more solidly than positive content.
This is why aware millennials are becoming wary. Plus: now they feel too old to argue with strangers and acquaintances online, they are not interested in having their mood manipulated, maybe they don't have a free hour every day to spend on Facebook. And they seem to be saying to themselves “they are social even without media”. They still remember those wonderful days of analogue friendships, and from the Covid post they expect it to allow real relationships to be built instead of digital connections mediated by a social ... that is dead. So I say: Expect Millennials to abandon Facebook in large numbers when a viable competitor emerges. Meanwhile, many others will adopt control procedures: they will install Newsfeed Eradicator to eliminate their addiction to scrolling, then maybe uBlockOrigin e Ghostery to block ads and tracking. They will use Messenger and will occasionally look at a friend's wall. By then, they will already have one foot out the door.
The exodus of conspiracies...
Censorship is an ugly beast. Everywhere. In the West, in China, in Russia. That said, social media platforms have begun to "censor" demonstrable lies and blatantly wrong claims. The truth must never be censored, but we must beware of blatant and verifiable lies such as "the earth is flat" or "Hillary Clinton runs a child sex club under a pizza place".
This Facebook approach infuriates several people. And it's only a matter of time before tens of millions of them abandon Facebook for a new social media platform that respects their right to be deluded. If he cuts them out he's dead. In fact, there is already a new social media platform that can offer an example - it's called Speak, and defines itself as "Free Speech Social Network".
… And that of intellectuals
The phenomenon of the "echo chambers" I mentioned earlier (those who want to delude themselves go to a place where they can do it, preferably among themselves) will not be isolated to the various Napalm51 and conspirators.
Expect to see rights activist groups doing the same. After all, did the rainbow international really wake up asking for income equality while using a platform that enriches a 36-year-old with net worth over $ 100 billion? Even this basin could give up in favor of a social network in which to feel more protected and represented.
Whoever stays will not be worth it
Removed large layers of Generation Z, Millennials, conspiracies and activists, what remains? A boring and bloated medium.
The user base will be a group of apolitical XNUMX-year-olds who like photos of cats and videos of dogs dancing, plus a bunch of trolls with too much time on their hands. Did you think Myspace was bad? In five years, Facebook could become the most depressing place on the internet.
What can Facebook do to avoid it?
The options available to the social network of. Menlo Park are varied:
1 - Lean on its fastest growing demographic group: the elderly.
There's nothing wrong with taking refuge in the Boomers, but our youth-obsessed society will no longer see Facebook as the primary platform.
2 - Try to keep young people down by advertising
Invest a ton of money in trying to convince the next generation that Facebook is still cool, despite the outdated platform and serious privacy concerns. It might work for a while.
3 - Continue to acquire real innovators like Instagram and WhatsApp were (or for example TikTok, I said it).
This will definitely work in the short term. At least until a flurry of anti-monopoly lawsuits will blow up the whole conglomerate again.
Will Facebook collapse, then? Impossible!
No it is not.
While Facebook isn't going away anytime soon (it still has over two billion daily active users) the old Myspace taught us that when the world's largest social media site collapses, it does so pretty much overnight. It is the net effect, but in reverse. I'm not saying that, and neither is Murphy's law.
The right surname is Metcalfe
For those unfamiliar with the Metcalfe's law, the theory postulates the following:
The value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users. As the physical cost of the network grows linearly, its value grows exponentially.
Example. We give everyone a value of $ 1,5. A 2-person network is worth $ 2,25 (1,5 x 1,5). A 3-person network isn't worth $ 3, but it's worth $ 3,375. And so on.
The two billion Facebook network is worth $ 750.000.000.000. We, the users, give Facebook 100% of its value.
And clearly, as people leave, this network loses value. Facebook's deflation may take longer than others due to its huge size, and like Myspace it will certainly continue to exist in some way. But I can confidently say that his best days are in the past. Because it is only a matter of time before the network effect stops.
The positive side? Change
In the end, as mentioned, if Facebook is dead (or will abandon this type of platform in favor of a real next thing, such as a social VR, for example) it is only a matter of time. And it will really be great news for marketers, business owners, social media users and the general public.
For marketing professionals, more platforms offer more marketing options, more niche specificity and less advertising competition.
For entrepreneurs, there is an opportunity to create elegant and innovative "heirs" for the first time in a decade. As the individualist-consumer society grows, expect to see a proliferation of niche-specific sites in the years to come. (And, perhaps ironically, a "reflux" with some sort of main site to access them all from a single app.)
For social media users, expect (or ask for) the introduction of a Charter of User Rights, including strengthened privacy standards, algorithms that are far less addictive, innovative protection from foreign trolling, and perhaps even ad revenue sharing.
For the general public, the spread of our digital interactions across a wider range of sites could lead to a non-monopolized ecosystem of different platforms from which to express real truths without censorship.
Perhaps Zuckerberg himself will be able to breathe a sigh of relief, turn the page and start something new. Facebook is dead, he will say. Long live Facebook.
Gianluca Riccio, born in 1975, is the creative director of an advertising agency, copywriter and journalist. He is affiliated with Italian Institute for the Future, World Future Society and H +, Network of Italian Transhumanists. Since 2006 he directs Futuroprossimo.it, the Italian resource of Futurology.
Futuroprossimo.it is an Italian resource of futurology opened since 2006: every day news about the near future. Scientific discoveries, medical research, prototypes, concepts and predictions about the future for free.
Gianluca Riccio, copywriter and journalist - Born in 1975, he is the creative director of an advertising agency, he is affiliated with the Italian Institute for the Future, World Future Society and H +, Network of Italian Transhumanists.