Facebook is Losing Friends

Note: this is a piece of coursework from last year, submitted and marked for my IGCSE diploma. I have not made any edits to the work contained. This piece was meant to argue a particular point, in response to an article given to us by our teacher that concerned itself with Facebook losing popularity and the reasons for this. Apologies as I can’t find the same article, though if I do I’ll update this post. This post is intended to give [I]GCSE students a feel for what kind of work is expected of them as part of this kind of coursework. However the contents may still be of interest to non-students who simply want to acquaint themselves with the topic broached.

So with that in mind, enjoy!

Facebook is Losing Friends

Social networks are spreading further than ever before, thanks to the widespread use of smartphones and tablet computers. So why did Facebook see a massive £11.2bn drop in share price in late October last year? The answer is simple: teenagers. It seems that more and more teens are shying away from the megacorporation, leading to a shift in share prices. But why?

To start with, teenagers favour new, simpler apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat. These sites are more temporary: with Snapchat, one sends a picture to a friend, but the picture is deleted within seconds of the file being opened. Facebook uses a permanent database, and is easy to navigate years into the past – as teenagers change with enormously over time, these pasts are often embarrassing and unwanted. Another, ever popular site is blogging top-dog Tumblr (purchased by Yahoo last year), which currently counts 110 million registered users. What Tumblr allows is anonymous usership while still having access to most of the site – as Facebook is based on the premise of keeping in contact with real life acquaintances, it’s useless to make an account under a fake name if one wishes to keep a secret. As teenagers, while undergoing the rapid mental changes of puberty, often wish to hide their most personal sides from their friends, family and loved ones, the gift of anonymity is a valuable one indeed. This lost value is reflected in Facebook’s loss of users.

On top of this, Facebook, quite simply, isn’t “cool” anymore. A few years back, it reached the devastating level of popularity at which parents learnt of it, and began to use it to stay in contact with their old acquaintances. Wide usage by the older generation leads to awkward and hugely unwanted friend requests from parents. Most teens will accept eventually, but this online friendship leads to a censorship of any posts from thereon. Losing the ability to write as one usually does affects teenagers in a major way – already most are trying to break out of any chains, so having these fresh ones clasped onto them is tough – so of course any wanting to communicate with their mates will simply move on to a new site (as discussed above).

However, it would be incorrect to say that Facebook losing a lot of its younger user base signs the death warrant of the site just yet; it’s important to remember the value of its new users too. Many adults now use it to regain contact with lost acquaintances from their younger days. It also aids with any important updates that you’d feel those who know you would appreciate hearing, as not all of these “friends” merit the tasking act of a personal phone call – be it a new relationship or job, a wedding, pictures of your new-born, or even just blurry, out of focus snaps of your pet cat Tiddles. Social networks, while presenting web users with a wide platform for whatever they need, seem to be typically used for mundane info of varying levels of importance – a personal newspaper, if you would, containing info on all the people you’ve met.

And it’s not just the need for christening photos that’s keeping Facebook alive. It also presents small companies with a simple way of getting more mobile users, expanding their market and essentially getting easy targeted advertising while being able to update followers on any upcoming products. Another group of teens also typically find social networks like Facebook helpful: international students. This ever increasing group tends to have to say goodbye to friends surprisingly often, and thus, while still wanting to preserve the sanctity of friendship, remain in contact for at least short periods of time after the departure of said friend. While Facebook may not be the best platform for this – Skype allows easy video calls and conferences, Google Hangout allows the same but with some quirky extras and easy access to Google Plus (another social network) – due to its popularity it is more likely that any given person will have it, so removes any need to switch quickly between sites to continue conversations with multiple people simultaneously.

In conclusion, Facebook, while losing a lot of its teenage base, has found a new set of users in the adult and international populations. All that remains is for Facebook to, once and for all, shed its image of being a “young adults only” site, and embrace its new market fully.

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