If you asked me today where I see Facebook in 20-25 years, you would think I am 100% crazy. This is because my answer to this question would be that in 2040, I don't see Facebook hovering over the same niche it does today. If you were to follow-up and ask me why I felt this way, you probably would be more enraged. But, we have to face the hard truth.
Since its launch in 2004, it has dominated the social media scene and has been vividly known to have started it all. All until now. Founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard batch mates, it was initially a Harvard-only social network, serving as a successor to Mark's first development FaceMash. On September 26, 2006, it was made accessible to anyone who had an e-mail address and was above the age of 13.
Next thing you know investments were pouring into Facebook and they were looking at multi-million dollar acquisitions. This is when the first generation of Facebook came into existence. Teens and youngsters who just wanted to try out this "cool innovation" jumped on the app.
Facebook was soaring. Soaring high above the competition. On April 9, 2012, they purchased a photo filter app now widely known as Instagram. On February 19, 2014, they acquired Whatsapp for a whopping $19 billion. Throughout this 16-year journey until now, Facebook amassed millions if not billions of worldwide users. However, this very angelic rise is set to bite the dust in the next twenty years.
Let me break this down statistically and logically. The users who began the usage of this application in 2006 were roughly between the age of 18-29(majority assumption). Today they would be between the ages of 32 and 43(if my math is not wrong). This demographic probably still uses it on a daily basis and will probably do so for the next 20 years. This is probably the last generation to use Facebook.
Now, let's look at the last 7 years. Let's assume the age group to be between 16-40(since social media usage has nearly tripled over that time frame. Although many users have started out from using Facebook, millions shifted to the new boy in the neighborhood, Instagram. Now the youngsters also referred to as Generation Z slowly shifted to this new trendy app.
Its ease of use and communication attracted millions off the Facebook fanbase. The most market-frenzy feature being Instagram stories. This feature was primarily incorporated as opposition to Snapchat. In a desperate attempt to undercut the market, Facebook offered $3 billion to buy out Snapchat. Snapchat declined.
Back to the age demographic argument, users who were between 30 and 40 still probably use it on a regular basis. But, the "hip generation" is well off that wagon. Once the generation that uses Facebook on the daily passes away, Facebook will have to face the harsh reality and before you know it, It is lights out for Facebook. Instagram will take over.
In fact, here is a survey by Edison Research in 2019. They concluded that since 2017, in the US alone, 15 million people had stopped using Facebook. A report by eMarketer in 2018 predicted that the average daily view time of Facebook would be down to 37 minutes from 41 minutes in 2017. All while Instagram's daily usage time incremented from 22 minutes in 2016 to a predicted 30 minutes in 2021.
The age matrix isn't the only factor digging Facebook's grave. Ironically, It is Facebook itself. Over the past few years, Facebook has shot itself in the foot by overcrowding pages with ads and promotional posts. This has proven to be detrimental to the existence of this site.
The privacy issues were probably the last straw for a majority of the users. As allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, Facebook was no doubt in for a tough battle. Later on, in 2018, Facebook cut ties with two data analytics and political firms. One of who went by the name Cambridge Analytica. If you are not familiar with this scandal, let me sum it up for you in a sentence. They were allegedly given access to over 87 million Facebook accounts. By access, I mean the ability to read messages and personal biodata. They could even prop up fake voter profiles to support a particular political institution.
Instagram, on the other hand, requires little to no personal biodata to create an account. Its functionality and comparatively fun user interface caused a migration of users between the platforms.
In the face of these issues, Facebook completely changed its strategy. Ironically, they envisaged a future in private messaging. They saw a future of “A privacy-focused vision for social networking.”
An excerpt from a detailed post read - “As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,” Zuckerberg wrote. “I expect future versions of Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network.”
In an indirect way, this literally suggests that Facebook knows they ain't going to have any happy ending. As history has shown us time and again, change is inevitable. The social media supergiant of today could be an unknown name tomorrow. Nobody knows what the future holds for us. Judging by 2020 it isn't roses and lilies either:)
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