July 27, 2022
The day when social networking was the majority of consumers’ main internet experience has passed.
This is the death of social network.
The social networking age, which commenced in 2003 with the birth of Friendster and influenced the development of the internet for two decades, came to an end this week with Facebook’s introduction of a comprehensive overhaul akin to TikTok.
The big picture: Keeping up with your friends’ updates functioned as the center of anything you would want to do online under the social network paradigm, which capitalized on the rise of smartphones to shape the digital experiences of billions of users.
Facebook now wants to customize your online experience to match the preferences of millions of total strangers across the world as determined by an algorithm.
- Like TikTok does with the clips it displays to users, Facebook will now arrange its home screen essentially in the same manner.
- The leading social media player is evolving into a type of digital mass media where the information you choose is determined by the responses of scads of anonymous users as processed by machine learning.
Because it consistently sends out recommendations of posts from anywhere that can grab your attention, Facebook and its competitors refer to this as a “discovery engine”
- However, it also resembles a mutant TV with an endless amount of context-free channels that rapidly shift in and out of focus.
- As a result of new privacy regulations from Apple and threats from authorities throughout the world, Facebook expects its company to develop in this direction. This is because younger users now tend to prefer it, and because its current ad-targeting model is now in jeopardy.
Between the lines: Social networks, led by Facebook, with Twitter serving a significant secondary role, dominated the internet’s culture and business for around ten years after the 2008 financial crisis.
- When they first began to rise, there were big expectations that they would liberate self-expression and send surges of democratic empowerment over the globe.
- However, the media industry and the digital advertising sector change was where they had the most significant impact.
Facebook defeated MySpace’s rival and swallowed or outwitted rivals like Instagram and Snapchat as it turned a basic “social graph” of human relationships into a money-making machine that aided businesses, especially smaller ones, target low-cost advertisements with remarkable precision.
- Rivals attempted to overtake Facebook in the social networking game but were unsuccessful, most notably Google, which made numerous unsuccessful attempts from Orkut to Google+.
Yes, but: As Facebook’s profits grew and it joined the elite group of Big Tech titans, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon, so did its issues.
- Human interactions become a depersonalized metrics race thanks to Facebook’s “like” buttons and friend counts.
- Since trying to keep up with the quantity of posts became a hassle, Facebook’s news feed switched by default to an algorithmic sort in 2009 rather than a chronological one.
- Because of it, a lot of users—especially political organizations—turned up the volume and tried to use Facebook’s features.
- This dynamic allegedly gave rise to extremism, false information, hate speech, and harassment over time, according to critics.
Be smart: “discovery engine” models similar to TikTok have many of the same issues.
- Even less of a social network is present in posts.
- The threshold at which speech is audible increases with crowd size.
Notably, Facebook will continue to offer traditional friends-and-family networking via a separate tab as it implements its changes — swiftly on mobile apps, “later this year” for computer/browser users. These posts will now be arranged chronologically, as some users have long requested.
- Additionally, by avoiding accusations of prejudice in its sorting, Facebook is able to stay one step ahead of lawmakers who want to limit its algorithmic capabilities.
However, the day when social networking was the majority of consumers’ main internet experience has passed. That also applies to Twitter, Facebook’s main Western competitor that has survived.
- As a result of Twitter’s inability to establish a solid economic model, Elon Musk made an acquisition offer. Whatever the result of the current legal battle, Twitter’s future is at best murky.
Our thought bubble: Facebook’s social network as a whole is now seen by the company’s management as a legacy operation by both Meta and Facebook.
- They intend to keep up the pace to bring in the money required to support their decade-long plan to construct the metaverse, where perhaps social networking will be revived in a 3D interface.
What’s next: Messaging will keep expanding as the primary medium for individual, one-on-one, and small group conversations.
- Due to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp’s ownership by Facebook, Meta also controls a sizable portion of that market.
- The “discovery engines” operated by TikTok and Meta will compete with streaming services at the other end of the media spectrum to draw billions of viewers worldwide and sell that attention to advertisers.
All of this creates a void in the center, where forums, ad-hoc group
creation, and small communities formerly ignited interest in internet
adoption prior to Facebook.
The demise of Facebook’s own social network may create fresh opportunities for innovation in this field, where relative newcomers like Discord are already starting to prosper.
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