As an avid “off-and-on” Facebook user since 2008, not long after it became available in my country, I’ve developed a sort of love-hate relationship with it, lately, leaning towards the latter.
On one hand, it’s useful to share and consume some news or updates, while on the other it has become convoluted; almost irrelevant. It was once the go-to destination to keep updated about current events, stay connected, engage in discussions and entertained simultaneously. That however has changed dramatically.
For news, I now go to Twitter, for entertainment, youtube, for discussions, Reddit and for quick, casual browsing I visit Instagram or TikTok. Somewhere in there, I check Facebook, mostly due to the fact I run several pages with thousands of followers and Facebook loves to burden me with unnecessary notifications in hopes of getting me to spend money promoting/advertising. I sometimes wonder if I had no pages to maintain, how much would I even use it.
It was once the centre of the information highway but has now become a semi-ghost town and meme repository of sorts. It’s clearly on a slow, visible downward spiral and if the Meta company doesn’t make some major changes, it’ll surely become the next MySpace, Friendster or even Google+ i.e discontinued.
Facebook may have helped developing nations unite for protests to overthrow leaders at one point, but it has also been accused of being used to “interfere” with the 2016 U.S. Elections, allowing the spread of fake news, tremendously disrespecting users’ privacy and has now been branded as a toxic social media platform; Instagram included.
These issues however are not the main reasons why I think Facebook is going down. It may be a little more underwhelming than leaked documents proving facebook knew it’s a toxic platform and did nothing about it.
A whole lot has changed since Facebook launched in 2004. Aside from a few core features the platform looks almost nothing like its original design. Platform designs evolve, that’s a given, however, when they evolve it should be to improve the user experience. Facebook’s evolved design hasn’t, despite appearing up-to-date.
Facebook’s User Interface (U.I.) now feels like I’m operating a cockpit of a plane in a flight simulator. They’ve tried to make it minimal, however, it’s become sluggish and features are buried too deep sometimes.
Don’t get me started on “Business Suite”. I absolutely loathe it when they automatically switch me to Business Suite or suggest it when posting on my pages, attending to notifications, messages, etc. This poor design language takes me back to software during the Windows 2000 era.
Have you ever shared a meme or GIF thinking it was edgy and humorous, only to be slapped with restrictions and warnings on your account? I have, several times. In fact, one of my pages got slapped with warnings for sharing content other pages were sharing. This has surely dampened my enthusiasm and willingness for posting on Facebook; because the reasons seem arbitrary I’m in fear of posting when I felt I did nothing wrong in the first place. This I believe is why Facebook will never be a true competitor to YouTube, though it keeps trying to get into that space unsuccessfully so far. I’m literally feeding my content on other platforms since these penalties.
Restrictions are bad, however, if you continue to push the limits after being warned as I have, Facebook puts you in what’s commonly referred to as “Facebook jail”. What this means is that you can’t post anything or do anything other than log in and browse. I’ve known several peers who have experienced this “Facebook jail”, and none of these instances seems warranted. The most they have done was post edgy memes. While those who post videos of children being abused are allowed to because Facebook thinks “awareness” is more important than ridicule. We all know it’s a bunch of B.S. Facebook thrives on the “shock factor” its platform shoves down our throats, which increases engagement.
It’s too much!
If you’ve tried using Facebook beyond posting updates, joining groups or following pages, you’ll realise that it can feel overwhelming at times to do additional tasks. There are just too many features to tweak and too many options aren’t always a good thing. This makes the platform feel as though it’s meant for techies only.
Take, for example, Instagram, where most of the younger crowds are engaging, is quite simple and easy to use, and I believe that’s why it’s still somewhat relevant today.
Facebook owns Instagram but they still don’t seem to get it.
A clear indication of its complexity is the sheer number of apps available to use Facebook. I don’t think any other social platform has so many apps required to use its one destination.
Aside from restrictions, Facebook’s algorithm limits the reach of your posts. This is intentional because Facebook wants you to pay to promote posts. And it’s not like the limitations are bearable; Facebook allows 10% and less of your audience to see your updates unless you go viral.
The number one reason I joined TikTok after years of hesitation was that my posts can reach a wider crowd without having to pay. That’s it. Once I heard that I quickly jumped on board. I’ve spent thousands of dollars over the years on Facebook and still feel like I’ve reached nowhere, hence why I’m okay with abandoning it in favour of another, more vibrant, more engaging platform like TikTok.
Finally, we come to the most popular reason people are abandoning Facebook. “Shocking” content can increase user engagement for sure, however over time, this can also wear you down mentally. If someone feels exhausted after using your platform, chances are they aren’t going to use it as much.
Life is complicated as is. When we need to take a break from reality, it shouldn’t be to go on something that increases our stress levels. My decreased engagements on Facebook and Instagram has resulted in a more positive outlook and allowed me to see a better future.
That better future I’ve envisioned doesn’t include Meta, Facebook’s new parent company, its questionable and harmful practices.
I’m grateful for the opportunities and doors Facebook has opened over the years, plus the more connected we now feel thanks to its reach. Facebook is a tool of sorts, not a way of life, but like many modern tools that are packaged as products, they have a shelf-life, and it is apparent that facebook’s shelf-life is nearing its end.
I have faith that every brand has an opportunity to make a comeback, even at the eleventh hour, and while we’re not currently at that mark in facebook’s lifespan it is more apparent on the horizon.
Facebook can learn from Nintendo that if they hold on too strongly to their internal beliefs, competitors will sweep in and steal the show from right under your nose when you’re at your peak. It’s time to change the culture within Facebook because clearly, it’s not helping it grow anymore and seems to be heading in the opposite direction.
Social Network platforms will always be around as long as the internet is, Facebook does not seem like it will be.