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Are the Cool Kids Leaving Facebook?

Putting aside Robert Scoble’s woe-is-me troubles with Facebook, one thing I’ve wondered about recently is whether Facebook is losing its cachet even as the number of registered users edges close to 60 million.

BusinessWeek, for example, cited Facebook Fatigue as one of “Ten Likely Events in 2008″.

“Social network fatigue will set in as people tire of getting yet another invitation from so-called friends to join yet another social network. And, in the wake of Facebook’s fumbled social ads initiative, it will become even more apparent there’s no obvious way to pitch products on these sites without turning off members. Social features will wend their way into all kinds of Web services, from search to news, but the gold rush in social networks themselves will begin to wane.”

Meanwhile, high-profile bloggers such as Loren Feldman have decided to walk away from Facebook, while Hugh MacLeod was thinking about “axing” Facebook before he was anointed the U.K.’s Facebook King by the Guardian. Personally, Facebook seems less interesting. I visit less often, and the only two things I find really useful are the e-mail and status components.

So what’s going on, and does is suggest anything other than the people who embraced Facebook early have just grown tired of it, and moved on to the next exciting thing – be it Twitter, Seesmic, etc.?

It probably means nothing. It’s likely just a sign that Facebook has moved into the mainstream while those ahead of the pack are already ready to move on. Still, it’s interesting to watch people actually get off the Facebook bandwagon given everyone was so enthusiastic about it not so long ago. Question: what happens to all your Facebook data once you decide to leave. If you kill your profile, does your data disappear too or does does it stay alive somewhere in the bowels of Facebook?

More: Speaking of social network fatigue, has anyone else been getting Plaxo Plus and Spock invitations? The last thing I need is being a member of another social network.

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  • Omar

    I think the techno-freaks are doing what they always do by constantly moving to new stuff. But the mainstream is most definitely sticking with Facebook, at least among my peer group. And I’m not saying that we’re the “cool kids” but FB has become part of everybody’s life in my social circle, and I just can’t imagine that changing anytime soon. Same with MSN.

    At least in Waterloo/Toronto I don’t see MSN or Facebook going anywhere for a long time.

  • http://owenbyrne.com Owen Byrne

    “cachet” not “cache”

  • http://www.markevanstech.com Mark Evans

    Omar: I think your right about the Facebook landscape. The techno-freaks can be a fickle bunch!

    Mark

  • http://www.reviewgist.com sonink

    maybe the generation that got fascinated by facebook is just getting older and settling down ;)

  • Dave

    When middle aged guys (like myself) started using it the writing was on the wall. It’s like when a fashion trend makes it to the Sears catalog … say goodbye to the Cool Kids.

  • http://aonb.blogspot.com Slava

    I’m still on facebook. So to answer your titular question: no.

  • http://softwarejim.blogspot.com Jim Konandreas

    Good post Mark. And it isn’t just the cool kids.

    I’m of the opinion that over time, any user’s usage of social networking sites decrease, and probably at a dramatic rate.

    A common misconception with Web 2.0 software, like many social networking sites, is that they are providing users with real value. Truth is though that the real value, or “product”, is the people and what they contribute, not the site itself. Over time, people contribute less, therefore the site does less for them. And that leads to people moving on.

  • http://www.wheretonext.ca Magnus

    I tried a few of the widgets and killed them all shortly there after. Messages and status reports it’s still an excellent tool for keeping in touch with old friends and collegues around the world and posting pics etc

    FB I’m sure will carry on as usual without the Kewl Kid Bloggers.

  • http://www.leesabarnes.com Leesa Barnes

    I haven’t visited Facebook in about 3 months. I am fatigued.

    But I’m looking for a way to bling my WordPress blog with social media plugins. I found a cool one called WP-Members that I’m using with one of my blogs. There are some drawbacks from an administrative point, but this plugin helps those who want to interact with my brand to stay in one spot.

    I feel the future of social media is in WordPress. Just develop the plugins needed and we won’t have need for Facebook any longer.

  • http://www.markevanstech.com Mark Evans

    Lisa,

    I agree that WordPress could be used more as a social networking tool. Chris Messina, for example, is heading up a group that is working on something using WP as the platform.

  • Ted

    Who cares about the Cool Kids MarkE? Are you?

    MySpace still survives.

    Scoble is not a “Cool Kids”. He’s a grown-up.

    “Cool Kids” is more like Bill Gates on Facebook (and yes he is there).

    “Cool Kids” is more like some football captain of USC on Facebook.

  • http://www.markevanstech.com Mark Evans

    Ted: I’m definitely not a “cool kid”. :)

  • Erik

    I’ve also noticed a striking increase in Spock & Plaxo Pulse invites in the last 6 weeks or so. Plaxo in particular is trying extremely hard to catch LinkedIn, esp. now that they’re reportedly shopping themselves.

    Spock is different…and much more worrisome to me. Plaxo invites are a nuisance; Spock invites are an active invasion of privacy. Take a look at this quote from their Terms of Service:

    “All users who sign-up for Spock have the option to provide their email login information (email address and email password) in order to discover where their address book contacts (their “Contacts”) may be on the Internet. We use the Contacts’ email addresses and other information from your address book to link up current search results in Spock to your “Network” section on Spock. In addition, we use the Contacts’ email addresses and other information to show an organized view of publicly available information about them from social networking sites, online communities, and the entire Internet at large. In this way, you and other Spock users can see the Contacts’ online information and activity.”

    This makes me very queasy. If I get this correctly, when someone who has my contact info becomes a Spock member and uploads their contact list, Spock uses that private data about me to cross-reference, validate and supplement the publicly available data about me on the Internet. Which means that everyone I know who joins Spock is actively eroding my privacy.

    To make matters worse, I’ve heard reports that Spock is heavily benefiting from a hair trigger invite function that spams your entire contact list before you realize you’ve OK’d such a thing…driving up registrations & ultimately feeding more private data into the system. Then they index the whole thing and make it available for anyone else to supplement (via tagging).

    All in all, a definite step backward for privacy.

    This web thing’s getting out of hand. I’m switching back to Gopher.

  • http://blog-o-blog.com zac echola

    You can’t kill your profile and with it your data. You can only kill your friends links to your data. Others can no longer see you via the Facebook network.

    When you deactivate your account you can log back in at anytime to see all of your data and connections still there, and have all of your connections plugged back in basically.

    I deactivated my account because of Beacon and general fatigue about a month ago. I brought it back but I really don’t use it as much as I used to.

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  • Marc

    I have deleted my Facebook account about three weeks ago, and three days later I re-activated the account to see if my data was kept, and it was. I should think that they keep it for some time before deleting it, although I cannot be sure. They might as well definitely keep it, I don’t know.

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  • The Cool Kid

    Yes the Cool Kids are leaving and really don’t care…

    Life is busy enough trying to handle everything else…

    Who has time to “make friends” online…LOL!!!

    People still do their thing on it, but it’s really whatever

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  • http://www.koolkidz.ca michael moore

    free facebook for kidz

    http://www.koolkidz.ca

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  • BFrouFrou

    Yeah, I know it will be on the decline soon. I know this B/c one of my friends who is always the last to join anything finally joined. I give it 6 more months and suddenly “privacy” will be cool again.

    Seriously, I used to do the whole “Social Network” thing and even got in touch with and hung out with some old friends. I thought that once I left, I would die some horrible cyber social death and would never do anything fun again…but I didn’t! In fact, I feel happier, go out more, and have a sense of freedom that I didn’t have before.

    No need to lug my camera around anymore in order to prove that I hang out with fun people and do interesting things. No need to over-analyze that random wall-post or friend request from an ex-bf! YEY!

    And what is really, really neat is when I run into an aquantance on the street and I can literally ask them what is new AND mean it!

    Oh and no need to update my status, or tag my friends in photos etc…

    There are those who say “Facebook has privacy controls or Facebook is what you make it.” I agree to an extent. But, if you put people into the privacy catergories they will know it. I mean if they go to your page and can’t view your pics or can’t see your status updates they are going to know they have been bumped down.

    Even if they don’t know YOU will know it. Then when you see them at that random BBQ that you go to every year you both can awkwardly ignore each other. NICE!

    Seriously – I know fads – and this one is (thankfully) on the way out.

    Currently, part of my job description includes social netowrking for our organization. BTW, the reason Facebook wants to know what your favorite (movies, music, insert meaningless crap here) is b/c they use it as marketing candy for the advertisers/apps.

    In other words, if I want to place an add for chunky-monkey ice cream, Facebook has the power to locate all the open chunkyimonkey lovers and make sure that my ad magically pops up on their screen. Very cool for advertisers.

    Now for those people who CLAIM that Facebook makes it easier to stay in touch.

    Ahem – easy my arse – you call that easy. Setting up a profile, choosing your best pics, posting status updates, manuevering through the online ettiquite of wall-posts, friends requests, and superpokes. In reality, it is much more difficult than simply emailing all your friends at one time or texting them.

    I just LOVE the people who say that their friends live all over the world and Facebook is the only way to keep in touch. What do your friends live in some unheard of land without email??

    Really think about it, everyone who has a Facebook has an email and if you don’t have their email address, if they don’t give it to you or (you lost it).

    Guess what, your not friends (or your inept) – get over it!

    Mark my words, this IS a fad – sorry advertisers and people who lack social skills thus feel safe getting to know people on that platform. You’d better amp up your real world skills b/c this cheap ride is almost over.

    So buh-bye FB – hello privacy and freedom!

  • Alex

    I pretty much agree with everything the above poster said. Currently, Facebook is like a worldwide online phonebook with pictures, except way more intrusive.

  • Mike

    I have just left facebook. "Social networking" is really "antisocial networking".

    I can't believe the ironic name. Socialising is really about meeting up face to face… not just typing to someone who isn't really your friend.

    I had about 10 times as many people on FB than I have real friends. People's definition of the word "friend" seems to differ wildly. I would say I have less than 5 friends in reality, but then my definition of "friend" is very strict and truthful. When I was younger I had about 30 "friends" but probably only had 5 real friends.

    Facebook is a great example of how diluted the word friend has become.

  • L Kray

    Kids are 'cool'?? Isn't that a term from the 60's?

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  • Denny

    Used FB for 6 months in 2010 and had my account deleted. I’m sick of computer maintenance for what little I need it and have been considering getting rid of my pc and laptop for some time. My main reason for keeping them is so I can job search from home instead of the Library which has a 2 hour computer limit per day, or spending most of the day at the unemployment center using the same internet to job search with a different computer. If I sell off my computers the biggest thing I would miss is Craigslist for selling and buying stuff and getting cool free stuff.