On the surface, Facebook is one of the most successful businesses ever. Not only is its’ market value worth billions, but it is also one of the most innovating companies out there. Facebook changed the way a lot of us live our lives since its inception. In the last five years, Facebook has grown exponentially, becoming an integral part of users lives. But that picture is changing.
The medium to long-term picture of Facebook does not seem that good as Facebook has been accumulating enemies of the last few years. The horizon has become suddenly clouded as Facebook is gradually losing vision and control. Here are a few reasons why we think Facebook has reached its peak.
A drop in users
For the very first time, Facebook reports a drop in the number of users. Facebook has been growing since it starts. The number of active daily users in the US and Canada (its biggest market) dropped. This is remarkable. The drop was small: 184 million. But it was a drop. This is something that does not usually happen on Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg announced about making the news feed prioritize “meaningful interactions” and de-prioritize content from news publishers. This will not happen overnight and people have got the idea the Facebook is not for meaningful connections at all.
A drop in engagement
What is more worrying about Facebook is not the drop in users, but the drop in the duration that people are online. The amount of time people spend on Facebook has dropped massively. It is not that people are spending less time on social media, but people are switching to other frill-free communication methods.
Even though a product of Facebook, a lot of people are simply satisfied using Instagram and WhatsApp. Teenagers are using Snapchat as their parents flock on Facebook to monitor their activities. Facebook reported that the amount of time users spends on Facebook had fallen by 50 million hours every day. Besides these issues, teenagers today are just more aware of the consequences of social media and are moving away from them.
Everybody hates advertisements. You don’t want to buy products from a place that’s meant to connect people. Yes, Facebook has evolved a lot, but then again, people’s trust from Facebook has shifted. Unilever’s chief marketing officer, Keith Weed, said that consumer trust in social media has plummeted. He threatened to pull money out of not just Facebook but Google too. What if other big advertisers followed?
Moreover, browsers such as Google Chrome and Opera are coming with built-in ad blockers. Advertising on the internet has become harder than ever. Moreover, Facebook wildly over-estimated how much time viewers spend watching videos on its platform. All this adds up to a potential flight of advertisers from Facebook, which could eventually be terrible for its business model.
Disinformation and Fake News
The involvement of Russians in the election of Donald Trump made it clear we cannot trust everything we see on the internet. In the end, it’s just stupid to trust anything you see on the internet without verifying the facts. Unfortunately, people are lazy and nobody wants to verify facts after a casual read.
But now people have become more aware of the truthfulness of information on the internet as they now have the first-hand experience of what disinformation and fake news can do.
Former executives speak out
Chamath Palihapitaya, former vice-president of user growth, said: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no co-operation, misinformation, mistruth.”
It was not long before him that the Facebook co-founder, Sean Parker, also said something similar. This is affecting the future of Facebook in the Silicon Valley and is a barrier to more acquisitions in the future that can help the company grow.
In both Europe and America, regulators are waging a kind of war of attrition against Facebook, which could become much more explosive very quickly. People do not simply appreciate the power that Facebook has. In Germany, hate speech laws are being used to impose very heavy fines against Facebook, as the claim that it is a platform rather than a publisher is given short shrift.
The General Data Protection Regulation
he new superpowers in the world of business are a new kind of media-technology giant who monetizes personal data. And with the evolution of the data economy comes the evolution of data regulation. GDPR, the European Union’s incoming data protection regulation, is due to come into force on 25 May and will have a massive impact on companies such as Facebook, who could face huge fines for breaches. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said the company has already adjusted privacy settings in anticipation.
Antagonism with the news industry
The news industry has been turning against Facebook and Google for how they are gobbling up the advertising dollars. Their dominance has threatened the ability of traditional publishers to make money. Facebook’s recent changes to its news feed add insult to injury: they could radically reduce the amount of traffic to websites producing shareable content.
God created man in his image. Facebook was also created in a similar manner. Facebook has been one of the most innovating companies, but it seems that Mark Zuckerberg and his team have unleashed something that they cannot control.