My friend Luke wrote a blog last week predicting that Facebook will go the way of myspace some time soon. People are fed up with changes, privacy is hard to keep up with, and the whole thing is getting old.
I have been annoyed with Facebook myself recently, as the newspaper apps for the Guardian and the Independent seem to have a default setting of telling all your friends what you have clicked on and read. Potentially very embarrassing?! But is this enough to make me leave Facebook?
I think this is a way off yet. When I think back over the last 5 years of Facebook, and how it has changed, it has grown up a great deal I started off using it to be amazed – getting in touch with people I never thought I would see again. Yes we had done that on Friends Reunited, but face book was much easier, and it wasn’t just about school. Back then, there were endless games and quizzes, everything was a bit risqué, It was fun, and from time to time we knew we were wasting time on it and would pledge to give it up for a week or a month to get some work done.
Now it is quite different, I use it differently, and I feel it evolved. I think there are some people who play farmville all day on it, but for the most part, I find it very productive, it is the way I pick up on what is going on locally, and on issues I am interested in, nationally. It is the way I keep in touch with my family, and it is the way I arrange to see friends. In these ways it improves my quality of life. I couldn’t give it up for a week now, I would miss out on work, and maybe a good party!
Several of the organisations I am part of use Facebook to discuss the news and their issues in great detail over long and interesting discussions. Groups also use it to organise and plan for the future, I have used it in project management where it has been indispensable. Really for any small group they can use it like a mini intranet, good for sharing, working on documents and publicity.
The fact that your mum, your aunt and the butcher are on it might make it feel old, but it is actually one of the things that makes it so useful. Everyone IS on it, so it is great for getting things done.
For another platform to work, it would need to have a critical mass, and that is very hard to get. Encouraging people to change would take years, and in the meantime, companies and businesses still will rely on Facebook for their core audience, strengthening it further as time goes on.
So I can’t see it dwindling, even if other applications can help organise better, they can only fail if the people you want to communicate with people are not on them.