Facebook, as the largest and most populated social media, hosted a total of 2 billion and 130 million users, all around the world in 2018. Since the birth of Facebook in 2004, this platform continued to grow and dominate the social media spaces.
However, every empire has its downfall, and Facebook is not an exception. A declined Facebook usage in favor of Instagram and WhatsApp is reported by Onavo, the internal research engine of Facebook.
In spite of various tools (from commercial and analytical tools to entertaining and auxiliary ones) embedded in Facebook, users seem to be scattering away to use other more convenient platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp. However, this doesn’t mean that no one is using Facebook anymore. Based on the most recent social media statistics, Facebook stands on the first place in terms of the number of annual sign-ups. But their newly held research revealed more users’ activity on Instagram and WhatsApp rather than on Facebook.
The declined Facebook usage can be due to some facts that could have predicted the situation far earlier in time.
Possible reasons leading to the declined Facebook usage
- The rise of SnapChat: Though not directly, SnapChat had a profound impact on users’ engagement on other social media platforms, most influenced of all, Facebook. When Snapchat was first created in 2011 by a group of Stanford graduate students, it absorbed a lot of attention towards its innovative ideas, most revolutionary of all, SnapChat disappearing stories, in 2013. The feature increased the net value of SnapChat in such a way that tempted Facebook to present a purchase offer of 3 billion dollars to SnapChat, which was immediately declined by the offeree. However, the previously Facebook purchased company, Instagram, felt threaten by SnapChat and literally stole the idea of stories and copied it into their own platform, in 2016. Instagram stories became so successful that SnapChat ceased to be the most impactful social media platform in favor of Instagram. Though Facebook’s, Instagram started to draw more and more attention towards itself, to the point that when Facebook and other social media launched their own stories feature, they could never compete with Instagram stories. Instagram’s SnapChat-innovated stories, then, were the first step towards a declined Facebook usage.
- Not enough privacy on Facebook: Although annoyingly secure, Facebook doesn’t provide enough privacy to its users. For example, users could limit the messaging option only to their friends and stop Facebook sending them messages from strangers. But in recent years, Facebook has removed this possibility, and now anyone on Facebook can message each other, even though they have never met before. Facebook did the update to make it easier for people to find new friends, but not only did users find the move annoying, but also they called it inconsiderate of Facebook. There are more privacy issues on Facebook which have made many users stop logging into the platform since a few years ago; hence a declined Facebook usage.
- Too complicated interface: As an ordinary user, it happens a lot to me to get lost in the maze-like pages of Facebook. With too many features and options present, everyday users and ordinary people find the platform too difficult to use. Though the features are great for businesses, it takes the satisfaction of both groups (companies and regular users) for the complexity to work.
- Generation gap: when the platform rolled out in 2004, the early users of Facebook were the young generation of people, who are now mostly somewhere between 30 and 40 years old. Making friends for the younger generation will be difficult on this platform because of the generation gap. Plus, the Facebook environment is not what pleases the younger generation and looks too formal and oldish. On the other hand, Instagram and WhatsApp are young-generation-friendly and fun to use, looking less business-like and more informal.
Facebook’s internal research
Based on Onavo, a Facebook interval research engine, users scattered from Facebook are becoming more active on Instagram and WhatsApp, which are more user privacy-oriented and easier to use. While Facebook is aware of its year by year declining usage, they are trying to make their other apps and platforms more related to Facebook, so that to log in to their other apps (or to secure them), users will need to sign up for Facebook. While this attempt might increase the number of sign-up attempts into Facebook, it won’t guarantee to increase user engagement on the platform.
What is Onavo?
As stated above, Onavo is Facebook’s internal researching tool. This tool monitors the activity and behavior of Facebook’s opponents. Onavo was purchased by Facebook in 2013 from an Israeli mobile web analytics company. Many believe that Onavo must be classified as a spyware, because Facebook monetizes the data gathered from users and companies, and violates users’ privacy terms.
Maybe this is another reason why the world is facing declined Facebook usage. Privacy matter to users, and Facebook seems not to care much about it.
While social media is facing a declined Facebook usage, other platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp are overtaking and pulling the engagement towards themselves. This was predictable, and Facebook is well aware of the fact. Though, it doesn’t mean that the platform is not worth investing on anymore. Facebook still remains the most powerful social media amid others, while warning users to take steps for their future social media life strategies.