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Why Facebook Is Not a Fad

March 31, 2011

Just had to share this terrific article in Slate on The Future of Social Networking, which responds to all those critics who claim Facebook is just a fad. The author’s eloquent response is almost verbatim what I have been saying for the past five years:

…Facebook isn’t going to go away anytime soon. The site is more entrenched than just about any other technology we use. It’s easy to go to a new search engine—just type Bing instead of Google—and there’s nothing stopping you from switching your brand of computer or cellphone. You can’t switch over to a new social network, though, unless your friends do so as well. Sure, this could happen…but Facebook seems to have hit a critical mass. Not only does it have a huge number of users (more than any previous social network), but its audience is spread across every demographic…and they’re ferociously committed to the site (nearly half log in every day). It also shows no signs of slowing its growth—and the bigger Facebook gets, the harder it becomes to switch to a new platform. If a storm of criticism surrounding its privacy practices and its frequent, confusing redesigns haven’t done anything to stem its growth…I’m not sure what could push Facebook off the main stage in the near term.

Amen! Even the world’s most popular website, Google, which announced it is launching its “+1” social media service this week, is still playing catch-up to the ubiquitous Facebook “Like.” So, if Google is modeling itself after Facebook, then you know for sure: Facebook is here to stay!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Keating permalink
    April 1, 2011 6:44 pm

    But how is Facebook THAT different from Friendster, which was replaced by MySpace, or Myspace, which was replaced with Facebook?

  2. mcswainstarrett permalink*
    April 1, 2011 7:02 pm

    Sheer numbers. Friendster, MySpace, and all the rest, can’t touch FB’s 600 million. From Wikipedia: 115 million registered on Friendster, over 90% from Asia; 100 million on MySpace, but declining for the past 5 years, with 47% of its staff laid off in January.

    Facebook, on the other hand has had such exponential growth, it’s crushing. It took just 5 months to reach half a billion users after hitting 400 million, which was just 3 months after hitting 350 million! No previous social networking site has reached that level of saturation. Now, as the article says, “the bigger Facebook gets, the harder it becomes to switch to a new platform;” and “you can’t switch over to a new social network unless your friends do so as well.” How on earth will 600 million people do anything en masse?

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