Facebook Where’s Your Loyalty?

// Posted by on 04/14/2014 (2:06 AM)

When reading Wire this weekend I came across an article that talked about the upcoming changes to the Facebook platform, which includes the deletion of Facebook chat from the main frame Facebook. This raises the question of what is Facebook going to become of in the Future? Facebook is such an integral part of our culture in the U.S today that is seems hard to imagine it becoming obsolete.

The Wired article suggest that instead of using Facebook as a one stop shop for all your social media is it going to morph into a service of a constellation of wireless apps. This format though seems to contradict pretty much everything we have learned about in class this semester. We have learned that people are moving more towards convenience and one stop shopping in all areas of their lives. This directly contradict Facebooks strategy for changing their platform overall. Kleiner Perkins at iFund states

“When you introduce complexity, it can dilute the overall experience.”

What makes Facebook think they can change the user experience and all of their subscribers will follow mindlessly? With the number of apps and social media platforms popping up all the time this seems like an incredibly risky bet.

Facebook states the reason for the breaking off of their services because of the decrease in the expansion of their user base over the last couple of years. Facebook is looking towards snapchat and Whatsapp and seeing huge growth in their user base and is essentially attempting to gain more users by conforming to their method. This really seems like a cop out from finding a truly new and innovative product. They are not creating anything new they are simply providing the same old service with more inconvenience for its users.

However the Ryan Tate, the author of the article, says this might be what Facebook needs in order to keep its strong hold on the social media environment. The biggest threat to an established technology company is innovation from their competitors. Facebook thinks capitalizing on the social app market is their solution to staying relevant. This does seem like a much better option than techniques other technology firms have made in the past to continue to succeed. Facebook has yet to solicit help from lawmakers and other innovation hampering means.

With Facebook attempting to capitalize on the social media app market you also have to ask yourself the question of why this market is so profitable to begin with? The answer to that at the end of the day is from the use of your information.With other articles on Wired valuing  Tinder at around 5 billion dollars, the app business must be getting more out of it than simply matching up couples to talk. All of these giant tech companies are beginning to see their source of great wealth in the amount of information they can gather from their users. When will this exploitation of its users catch up to the giant app platforms? The breaking off of Facebook chat is purely in the interest of Facebook and their statistics, not in the interest of its loyal users. Where has the spirit of the Internet gone? It use to be about the open creation and sharing of information, now it is simply about how corporations can gather your free and personal thoughts in order to advertise to you better. Data mining at places like Facebook have created a sense of fear on the internet through their facial recognition software, the fear of being caught at the wrong place at the wrong time. Facebook at its onset was about connecting people and allowing them to share their thought openly and freely.

            Only time will tell if Facebook will be able to keep up with all of the changing technologies and startups. Either this movement towards a constellation of apps will be deemed a huge success and forward thinking at its best, or it will drive away the already stagnated user based Facebook has acquired.

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Rachel said...

I’m not entirely surprised by this, to be honest. With Facebook buying up a lot of smaller apps, it kind of seemed like the direction the company would go: smaller, more diverse services rather than one big conglomerate site. Whether it’s really the way Facebook ought to go, since it does remove some of the convenience that made it the social media hegemon it’s been, is another question. As we’ve seen with a lot of Google’s attempts at creating smaller services, when you deviate from what has been profitable and well-maintained for you as a company in the past, you risk having the flop that is Google+.

// 04/14/2014 at 2:16 pm

Kevin said...

I agree with you that Facebook is taking somewhat of a risk by entering the app market, but I disagree in saying that this limits convenience or being a “one stop shop.” Sure, its possible that Facebook will never be exactly the same anymore, but if their user base is already flat, then it seems inevitable that they must (as you said) make a major move in order to stay on top. Thus, they are choosing to enter into the mobile app market to become a “one stop shop” for mobile applications. Since Facebook has such a big name at this point, I do not think that they need to limit their service solely to their original social media platform. Instead, I think that they are trying to morph into an app platform that can complete with the AppStore and Google Play. Given some of the key acquisitions they already possess, it seems that they could make a relatively seamless transition.

Also, I do not think the Wired article does a good enough job at defining all of the changes Facebook is making. They are also doing updates for user privacy, improving the newsfeed, and making efforts to eliminate spam. Take a look at this article I found if you’d like to hear a bit more.

Basically, I think Facebook understands that they will die out if they only try to be known for their social media service. Like you said, new social media sites are coming out constantly, so Facebook is setting themselves up with a safety net by going into the app business while they have a big enough name to do so. Facebook will always possess its core social media function, but its trying to get much bigger than that, which I think is just fine. Yes, it may be the end of Facebook as we know it, but I do not think by any means it is the end of Facebook in general.

// 04/14/2014 at 4:01 pm

Kevin said...

Sorry, I inserted a link for the wrong article. Here is the article I was talking about:

// 04/14/2014 at 4:03 pm

Deirdre said...

I think this post makes a really good point about the direction in which social media is going. Another article I read in Wired reported that 11 million college and high school kids had deleted their Facebooks or all of the contents on their profiles. This was supposedly due to their fear of being exposed to prospective employers or simply because they stopped wanting to be so open to the public with their photos and information.
I’m only surprised this didn’t happen sooner. I think you’re right that Facebook no longer has its users in mind, but rather its success as a company. Facebook used to be about creativity and expressing your interests through a profile, but in my opinion it has become far too open and exposes far too much private information about the individual. That is why, as you’ve said, many people are turning to apps that allow them to present themselves in way that is entirely different from what a Facebook profile allows you to do.
My blog post this week was also about Facebook and the ways in which it’s causing our generation to become more private. People are now turning to applications through which they can message more easily, and communicate their lives to more particular audiences in a more intimate way.

// 04/14/2014 at 9:32 pm

Molly said...

I agree with Rachel that I am too not surprised by Facebooks business strategy, to buy up smaller apps. I think Facebook is inevitably going to one day extinct, like Hotmail, yahoo, ask jeeves etc. and this change in their format seems to be an attempt to keep up with the newer, more popular social media outlets of the current moment. I think part of facebook demise is the move to social media APPs. Before there were mobile applications, there was Facebook. As technology has evolved over the past decade, the majority of social media applications are designed to be used via mobile. Instagram, snapchat, tindr, etc. are all created to be used solely through a cell phone, and used as a platform to show what you are doing right now, in small photo pieces or video clips, that document that moment, unlike Facebook which is more of expansive site, with a lot more information. And although Facebook does have an app, it was not originally designed that way, and I think because of this will continue to lag behind on the new internet frontier which is the mobile app.

// 04/15/2014 at 3:09 pm