Is Facebook dying? That's the topic of an astonishing New York Times article, entitled "Facebook Exodus." Author Virginia Heffernan starts by pointing out:
The exodus is not evident from the site’s overall numbers. According to comScore, Facebook attracted 87.7 million unique visitors in the United States in July. But while people are still joining Facebook and compulsively visiting the site, a small but noticeable group are fleeing – some of them ostentatiously.
I’ve written about Facebook several times in the eHarbor Blog, usually noting its strength and rapid growth. Along with Twitter, it is leading the social-media revolution – or fad – that could change search engines and other aspects of the Internet or just peter out. This article grabbed my attention and demanded I discuss it.
You should definitely check out the New York Times article because it tells five stories about individuals who left Facebook for a variety of reasons. They are all quite compelling. One felt his privacy was violated by Facebook, and another felt she was wasting too much time on the website.
The feelings of privacy violation are completely understandable, and perhaps even unavoidable. Facebook is a social network so its information is not meant to be completely private. Perhaps people’s concerns are just the result of their own carelessness in posting too much information or not studying the rules to keep it hidden. Or maybe it’s a combination of shifting, hidden or hard-to-understand rules, as well as people’s decisions not to read the fine print.
Heffernan notes, “As Facebook endeavors to be the Web’s headquarters – to compete with Google, in other words, and to make money from the information it gathers – it’s inevitable that some people would come to view it as Big Brother.”
The part of the article that really took my breath away was when a prolific Facebook poster said the site felt dead to her a few months ago, even though it was still experiencing explosive growth. That struck me as incredibly odd. She noted the novelty of finding people on Facebook is wearing off, and I suddenly started looking at Facebook in a whole new light. Maybe Facebook’s services never really had a future, but they were just a fun diversion – a flash in the pan.
The last paragraph in the New York Times article sums it all up nicely:
Is Facebook doomed to someday become an online ghost town, run by zombie users who never update their pages and packs of marketers picking at the corpses of social circles they once hoped to exploit? Sad, if so. Though maybe fated, like the demise of a college clique.