Is this the beginning of the end of Facebook?
Analysts maintain that more and more youngsters are becoming “Facebook-nevers” — those who haven’t used it before, and don’t use it now. As the popularity of the network wanes, a new wave in the age of social media appears to have begun.editorials Updated: Jul 06, 2018 20:47 IST
The idea of social networking as we know it can be attributed to the rise of Facebook, which began operations in 2004, and opened to the world in 2006. But 12 years could be a century in internet time. And even though the site continues to be extremely popular (it crossed two billion monthly users in June 2017), its magic might now be ebbing. If Facebook is indeed ageing badly, and losing younger users, this could mark the start of a new era in social networking.
Facebook still has the lion’s share of users in the social media market (so to speak). In June 2017, when Facebook touched 2 billion users, YouTube had 1.5 billion users, WeChat had 889 million, Twitter 328 million, and Snapchat was projected to have hit 255 million monthly users. Having also drawn a lot of attention for the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with its ability to influence popular opinion, and spread fake news, Facebook had become one of the defining facets of urban life in the second decade after Y2K. But recent analysis shows that the behemoth may finally have hit its peak. A forecast by data and analysis firm eMarketer suggests that in 2018, the number of Facebook users in the US younger than 11 will decline by 9.3%; and the number of users in the age ranges of 12 to 17 and 18 to 24 will decrease by 5.6% and 5.8%, respectively. A survey by the Pew Research Centre (http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/) also reflects this trend. In the Centre’s 2014-15 survey, 71% of respondents aged between 13 and 17 had reported being users of Facebook. In the present survey, that number is down to 51%. The prime competitors to Facebook for the attention of these youngsters appear to be Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram (now owned by Facebook). Even if the overall number of users may not have fallen, the shift in demographics is becoming clear. 2018 will be the first time that the number of teens on Facebook will dwindle.
Analysts maintain that more and more youngsters are becoming “Facebook-nevers” — those who haven’t used it before, and don’t use it now. Teenagers may be looking at Facebook as their parents’ idea of social media; and that, of course, is anathema to the teen. Present wisdom suggests that teenagers not only bring the “cool” factor to these platforms, people also tend to take their social media habits with them as they age. This makes grabbing the attention of the youngsters the prize for most sites. As the popularity of Facebook begins to wane, a new wave in the age of social media appears to have begun.
First Published: Jul 06, 2018 20:24 IST