Facebook's Future Fortunes?

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Facebook's Future Fortunes?

Postby jon » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:06 pm

Survey shows Facebook ‘basically dead and buried’
Teens turning to ‘cooler’ sites like Twitter, Snapchat, leaving their older relatives behind
By Matthew Sparkes, London Daily Telegraph
December 30, 2013

A study of how older teenagers use social media has found that Facebook is “not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried” and is being replaced by simpler social networks such as Twitter and Snapchat, an expert has claimed.

Young people now see the site as “uncool” and keep their profiles live purely to stay in touch with older relatives, among whom it remains popular.

Daniel Miller of University College London, an anthropologist who worked on the European Union-funded research, wrote in an article for the academic news website The Conversation: “Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it.

“This year marked the start of what looks likely to be a sustained decline of what had been the most pervasive of all social networking sites. Young people are turning away in droves and adopting other social networks instead, while the worst people of all, their parents, continue to use the service,” Miller wrote.

“Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives. Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected. In response, the young are moving on to cooler things. What appears to be the most seminal moment in a young person’s decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day your mum sends you a friend request.”

The Global Social Media Impact Study observed those aged 16 to 18 in eight countries for 15 months and found that Facebook use was in sharp decline.

It found young people were turning to simpler services such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp, which Miller said were “no match” for Facebook’s functionality.

“Most of the schoolchildren in our survey recognized that in many ways, Facebook is technically better than Twitter or Instagram. It is more integrated, better for photo albums, organizing parties and more effective for observing people’s relationships,” said Miller, adding that “slick isn’t always best” in attracting young users.

WhatsApp has overtaken Facebook as the No. 1 way to send messages, said the researchers, while Snapchat has gained in popularity in recent months by allowing users to send images which “self-destruct” after a short period on the recipient’s phone in order to maintain privacy.

Snapchat says 350 million images are sent every day, and reportedly recently turned down a $3 billion US acquisition offer from Facebook.

Researchers found that close friends used Snapchat to communicate, while WhatsApp was used with acquaintances and Twitter broadcasted to anyone who chose to follow that person.

The study found that Facebook was now used by teenagers as a way to stay in touch with older members of their family and siblings who have left for university and has “evolved into a very different animal” from its early days as a social network focusing on young users at university.

Facebook will be a decade old in 2014.
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Re: Facebook's Future Fortunes?

Postby tuned » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:13 pm

This article is bang on. If you're under 20 it's instagram, snapchat and twitter. The problem with fb is that there's too much going on. Sometimes less is more and that's the appeal of the other social media services. fb just bought instagram so they can see the future as well...
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Re: Facebook's Future Fortunes?

Postby former tv guy » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:36 pm

Always good to get both sides of an 'alarming' story.

FROM THE BBC December 2013 Last updated at 04:04 ET

Technology correspondent Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones

Facebook - not dead, not buried

Over the weekend, there was some scary news for the world's biggest social network. Facebook, the story went, was "dead and buried", teenagers were turning away "in their droves", put off by their parents' presence on the network.

It was "the start of what looks likely to be a sustained decline". The headlines appeared first in the UK, then spread rapidly around the world. But I was sceptical.

I've seen plenty such stories over the years - I wrote my own first piece asking whether Facebook was in decline around Christmas 2007 - and each time the social network has just kept on growing.

But this story emerged not from some dodgy survey promoted by a marketing company or even from a journalist whipping something up in the quiet days between Christmas and New Year. It came from "comprehensive European research", something called the Global Social Media Impact Study.

This EU-funded project, headed by Professor Daniel Miller from University College London, looks like a serious piece of work. Its website tells us that its aim is to study how social media are changing our lives and involves "eight highly trained ethnographic researchers based at UCL... each spending 15 months during 2013-4, in small towns in Brazil, China (2), India, Italy, Trinidad, Turkey and the UK".

Start Quote
[Teenagers] have gone off to cooler places like Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp, he tells us, because they are embarrassed to hang out on a network now frequented by their parents”
End Quote
There is some interesting material on the project's blog - the researchers have found that 40% of Italians have never changed their Facebook privacy settings - but nothing immediately apparent about the social network's demise among young people.

So, was this a case of journalists taking an academic research paper and overhyping it? No - the man who sold, perhaps oversold, the story turns out to be Professor Miller, leader of the GSMI study. All of the quotes in the opening paragraph of this blogpost came from a piece he wrote on a website called The Conversation, whose catchline is "academic rigour, journalistic flair."

The piece makes it clear that he has drawn his conclusions not from the study as a whole but from its work in the UK. "What we've learned from working with 16-18 year olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried." They have gone off to cooler places like Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp, he tells us, because they are embarrassed to hang out on a network now frequented by their parents.

What the piece does not make clear is how this research has been conducted, how many teenagers were involved, where they were and how they were selected. Professor Miller is hard to contact right now - his Twitter account (@dannyanth) tells us he's "at work/rest in remote site in Caribbean with intermittent/poor internet access. Back end January."

But he has used Twitter to answer some questions about his research. He says it involves school kids in villages north of London from three schools with a population of more than 2,000, and "the data is ethnographic/qualitative but I strongly encourage people to interview schoolkids to find confirmation," he said.

Now it is obviously true that rival networks and apps are increasingly popular amongst teenagers, and it may also be the case that some of them are leaving Facebook for good.

But do interviews with some 16 to 18 year olds in one small area really tell us that young people are leaving Facebook "in their droves" and herald a "sustained decline"?

That seems quite a stretch - the plural of anecdote is not data, as the man said. And there is plenty of data out there about Facebook - notably from the company itself which now has to update investors regularly about its users. The company's chief financial officer David Ebersman caused a tremor in the share price in October when he indicated that there had been a slight fall in daily activity on Facebook among teenagers.

The shares quickly recovered and have now scaled new heights - but surely when trading begins in New York on Monday afternoon traders will rush to sell in response to the "dead and buried" story?

Or perhaps they will decide that Professor Miller's theories show more journalistic flair than academic rigour.

UPDATE 15:00 GMT, 30 December

Professor Daniel Miller has now written a blogpost responding to this post and defending his research methods.

He reveals that the article in The Conversation which appeared under his name - and which made the story go viral - was in fact written by a journalist. He says he checked her piece for factual errors but "left in elements in her version that perhaps over-simplified the original".

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