A week from now, millions will take part in a mass exodus from Facebook over growing privacy concerns. The revolt comes following a run of bad decisions by CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, which have left many users feeling indisposed.
A survey by IT security firm Saphos claims up to 60 percent of Facebook users are considering quitting. “Quit Facebook Day” is scheduled for Monday, May 31, so if the company plans to roll out changes to its insanely complex privacy settings, this would seem like the right week.
I’m not among the 60 percent who are allegedly considering quitting. As someone who lives far from most of his friends and home, someone who’s freelance journalist, a blogger, a media glutton, I can’t imagine not being a part of the world’s most popular social network. However, I can say I’m not pleased with my experience of late.
I see a mass exodus as seriously problematic on two levels:
- Countless companies and industries have invested their resources into social media. If Facebook turns out to be a phase, thousands of businesses will be forced to retool almost overnight and reconsider their advertising and marketing strategies. Altogether, not a bad thing, but it would slow the willingness to invest in social media in the future. And I still believe all relevant technologies are going that direction.
- If not Facebook, then who? If 120 million — 60 percent of the 2 million-plus Facebook users — were to leave, where would they go? MySpace is decaying somewhere in the aughts, Twitter is too limited and no one understands Google Buzz, including Google. This creates a huge market gap which would need to be filled with quickness. But by whom? (Here’s my early favorite.)
To play devil’s advocate, I think it’s time Facebook consider subscription-based service. I’m talking nothing more than a dollar or two per month, but this would reduce the need for advertising revenue, thusly creating a more user-friendly experience. Most of the company’s problems have stemmed from the perfectly understandable need to create revenue streams. Facebook has relied on venture capitalists since its inception and Zuckerberg has declined several multibillion-dollar offers for his brainchild. Instead, they’ve relied on ad revenue while growing the user base.
If I was Zuckerberg, I would put Facebook in the time machine and turn the dial back a couple years. I would argue the Facebook experience peaked in early 2008, before it was overrun with clumsy applications, myriad privacy settings and a muddled front page. Most users want nothing more than status updates, messages, photos, walls, customizable profiles and maybe — maybe — Facebook chat. Users felt as though they had control of Facebook.
Ah, the good old days.
What are you thoughts? How would you describe the current Facebook experience compared to a few years ago? Would you consider quitting Facebook?