I’m sure that many of you would have noticed a few stories in the media yesterday that were eager to point out that Facebook has, “seemingly”, lost some of its users. Now I’m not sure how accurate the figures really are, but the fact that these articles appeared signifies that some parts of the media have already got their daggers out when it comes to Facebook.
Of course things do come and go. We’ve already watched several different Internet eras come to pass, so it’s possible that Facebook may well either have to change dramatically as time goes on, or fall at the feet of another up and coming social network.
One thing I’ve noticed is that when Friends Re-united, and later Myspace, got taken over by non-Internet based companies, that they applied values that may well have helped lead to their own demise, especially when it came to being able to adapt fast enough. Even now one gets the feeling that executives have taken over the running of Facebook and instead of a “User Centred” ethos, a money-making one has become the main priority (e.g. space for adverts has become greater over the last year).
There’s also a sense of not being cared for, so now when Facebook makes a change it forces the change on its users, but a client centred company would notify users clearly of any changes then allow them to opt in when they felt ready (as Yahoo have done with their email services). They would also listen to users concerns about things like being added to other people’s groups without giving permission, or allowing users to choose who tags them. Even businesses have complained about Facebook making changes to how their community pages work without giving them a choice. For many, the Honeymoon is over, but that doesn’t mean the marriage is. Like any relationship it takes two to Tango, so will Facebook start to listen and react accordingly because now days people tend to live by the rule of, “For better or forget it”?
There is still something very touching about Facebook and it’s this, it has given back a sense of community to many people who, for a long time, have lived in societies that no longer had one. I don’t think Facebook is going to come crashing down just yet, but, and I get asked this a lot, what of the future? In my opinion it’s possible that another company might blow Facebook out of the water, but because it’s such a rich company it could either use its financial clout to buy out any threats and incorporate them in to its own framework, or just make them disappear.
I wonder if, in time, a system might develop that leaves users with more control. For instance at the moment if you use, or “misuse”, Facebook or YouTube, you can find your account no longer exists, and outside of starting over, there’s nothing you can do about it. So in time a more modular system may develop. For instance you could have your own “Home” on the internet which can’t easily be closed down, is free and includes at least your own wall, an info page, a list of friends and likes. Now this home would be able to connect with other people’s ones by using third party linking systems. This would offer security to users in that your profile was protected from the demise of a particular social network, and a choice as to which company you wanted to use to link to other people.
As a precursor to this I have developed something similar to this where people can link up with me so in the event of Facebook kicking me off for writing articles such as this, people can keep in contact. If you want to link up with me then click here and register. Meanwhile enjoy Facebook if you do, and remember plenty of people out there don’t like Facebook, but what do they know?