With decade-old MySpace now considered part of the ancient history of the internet, it’s little wonder that questions are now forming over whether Facebook has long-term staying power.
As the internet (and especially mobile platforms) have grown, Facebook has become less exciting and new, particularly to teens. A survey this fall found that Twitter has overtaken Facebook in popularity among teens. Last month questions also arose following Facebook’s third-quarter earnings call, in which it was revealed that daily Facebook use among teens may be dropping. Though Facebook later downplayed the significance of that revelation, investors are still worrying that other new social media tools such as messaging apps could drive down Facebook engagement (and ad revenue).
A new report this month from Daniel Miller, professor of material culture at University College London, is now showing yet again that teens may be entirely done with Facebook.
Miller, who is part of the EU’s Global Social Media Impact Study, has reported that 16- to18-year-olds in the UK are “embarrassed even to be associated” with Facebook. Miller went as far as to label Facebook “dead and buried” among that demographic.
The problem, it seems, is that Facebook is now too mainstream, to inclusive. Along with Facebook’s growth came an influx of parents, grandparents, and teachers – the very people that teens were using Facebook to circumvent at the site’s outset. Miller’s report shows that teens are now using Facebook out of an obligation to stay in touch with family, rather than to keep up with friends.
Instead of Facebook, says Miller, teens are now turning to more direct forms of social interaction. The aforementioned Twitter is still popular among the younger demographic, as is the Facebook-owned Instagram. In addition, messaging apps such as WhatsApp and SnapChat, which gained significant popularity during 2013.
Though Facebook no longer appears to be the cool place for teens to hang out online, the company can still take solace in the fact that its massive userbase means it will be relevant for years to come. The only concerns now for Facebook should be whether parents will gradually follow in their teens’ footsteps away from the site or whether those even younger than teens will bypass Facebook altogether in favor of the new and the popular.