Face it, it’s downhill from here!

I’m going to stick my neck out here and forecast something drastic, something I’ve not seen mentioned anywhere else. It is, however, something I have heard  and read the beginnings of in discussions between friends, acquaintances etc. I’ve also noticed the first tell tale signs, the odd statement here, the odd action here and there…

Facebook is going to go the same way as MySpace. Not now, perhaps not as drastically or as completely, but it will and sooner than anyone will expect.

12-18 months ago I recall seeing status updates from bands such as Queen, Pink Floyd and others receiving comments and likes in multiples of thousands, regularly.

Over the last week I’ve been watching again and, despite ‘Likes’ sometimes reaching a thousand or perhaps a couple of thousand, the comments struggle to break out of several hundred. And this despite (or because of?) an exponential growth in Facebook users.

It’s not a major shift, or in fact that noticeable just now (unless you’re looking) but the actual level of interaction on Facebook is diminishing. Slowly, inexorably the demise of Facebook is coming, and I for one can’t wait.

If you take Queen as an example, they have over 1.3 million ‘Likes’ on Facebook but regularly receive perhaps only 1-2 hundred comments on a status update. That’s an interaction of 0.001%. And they’re doing well. Quite often bands receive only 1 or 2 comments, or perhaps comments in a multiple of 10 rather than 100 let alone the 1,000s.

I resisted the temptation to jump on the Facebook bandwagon for some time, I opened an account, played around for an hour or two then left it. That account is still active today but never used. A couple of years later I created another account in order to run a band ‘page’ and became an addict. I didn’t want to. It just happened. Suddenly I was in touch with school friends I hadn’t seen in 20+ years, work mates I’d lost touch with over a decade of moving around and so it began…

Three years on and I still update regularly. I tend to use an alternative interface than the web site, tools such as Hootsuite, Echofon, Tweetdeck etc allow me to update and converse without actually visiting the site. And then there’s Twitter.

Say all you want, as long it’s in 140 characters or less. I couldn’t understand the allure of Twitter when I first dipped my toes into the Twitterverse. And then I found myself following, and being followed by, people with similar interests and the conversations began to flow. Not only the conversations, germs of ideas flourished, artistic collaborations got under way and all without a single Farmville, Mafia Wars, Gems (or whatever it’s called) or unsolicited friend request!

I think that’s where Facebook is failing. It started off as a walled off web based application allowing ‘friends’ and family to get in touch, it then opened up it’s API to aspiring code writers to write apps, plugins and games to enhance the experience. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however Zuckerberg et al failed in two major aspects. Privacy and Security. If you look around the internet, yes, that bit outside of Facebook, you’ll read plenty of articles like this.

There have been many stories of virii being spread through Facebook links, apps and even photos, there’s stories of it being used to stalk, harass and bully people, and it’s only going to get worse. Then there’s the fact that you can’t actually remove anything once you’ve put it up there. You don’t own your own timeline, the photos etc that you post. Over the years Facebook has continued to evolve, adding more functionality to its interface, opening up to (slight) customisation by Facebook apps, getting into bed with Spotify, adding the Facebook Timeline and it will continue to do so. Some of these were welcome additions, I liked the RootMusic app, while most were met with an all too quiet uproar from tech savvy users while the X hundred million other users (some of whom actually believe that Facebook is the internet!) carried on regardless.

But each day I read less and less on my Facebook stream. There’s an ever increasing number of “If you don’t copy this then…” posts, new games appear faster than you can block them, updates from people I don’t follow (I may have placed them in my ‘Favourite Music/Film/Book” list but that doesn’t mean that I want to see everything that’s posted about them)!

And now, with the advent of apps such as Flipboard, I don’t even have to choose between Facebook, Twitter or any of the other sites I frequent to get my daily intake of news, gossip,  music info or tech geekery. I simply flip through what I want, ‘real’ news, music news, film news, Twitter updates, Facebook Statuses etc without even having to be ‘on’ Facebook or any other site. It’s bliss and I find myself spending less time online but taking in more information.

By now many of you will be saying “But surely with 800 Million users, as a band, artist, business, individual with something to say, you’d be mad to leave it?”

Really? Think back to the figures from Queen’s stats. 0.001% interaction. Even when targeted ads are paid for the actual click-through rarely rises to a level worthy of the financial outlay (believe me I’ve done it).

I’m not the only person to see this. I know of many people who are leaving, or have left, Facebook. How easy do you think it is to get your voice heard among 800 Million other voices?

Most people who read this will think of me as a lunatic. Need I remind you of those who first said the world wasn’t flat?

Facebook’s days are numbered. And that number is a lot smaller than most of will ever realise.


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