Facebook and all its assorted other social media extensions went dark for several hours on Monday. Just as I was starting to write this post. I don’t wanna claim I have supernatural powers, but well, if the algorithm fits…
An editorial in the no longer failing New York Times speaks directly to something I’ve been thinking is happening for several months now:
Facebook is dying.
Rather than being the all powerful behemoth the MSM would have you believe, Facebook is so worried about losing market share they are trying to leverage children’s playdates into a way to grow “the kids market”. Instagram, or Insta to those in the know, always a veritable cesspool of teen female body image issues, basically stuck fingers in their collective ears and hummed “La dee dah la dee dah” when a report that they themselves asked for came back saying “yeah, not such a great place for girls to get a good self image going”.
Straws are being clutched at. Paper ones no doubt, no plastic for us thank you.
In the Times editorial, Kevin Roose writes
What I’m talking about is a kind of slow, steady decline that anyone who has ever seen a dying company up close can recognize. It’s a cloud of existential dread that hangs over an organization whose best days are behind it, influencing every managerial priority and product decision and leading to increasingly desperate attempts to find a way out. This kind of decline is not necessarily visible from the outside, but insiders see a hundred small, disquieting signs of it every day — user-hostile growth hacks, frenetic pivots, executive paranoia, the gradual attrition of talented colleagues.
I know a company that’s beyond it’s sell by date. I used to pick over the skeletal remains of those companies for a living. Many were very successful for a time. There was even a precursor social media company that I outfitted with office furniture selected by the guy who eventually took on the title of CEO, then floundered and eventually died, its assets sold off, its office furniture returned from whence it came. I saw many companies flying up the tech ladder and so many of the very same companies come a tumblin’ down.
In addition I’ve worked many times with Facebook, moving their people from place to place and making their parties go smoothly. It’s in those unguarded moments when you can see the real story of any company. It’s the way people look at one another. In a growing company it’s an “all for one, one for all” attitude. In a plateaued company it’s “aren’t we just so f-ing great”, and in a company with problems it’s “what can this guy do for me?”. The last job at Facebook that final attitude was everywhere.
Now I know I’m not the demographic Facebook really cares about, perhaps that’s why I’m becoming less and less of a user, but at one time I was on it constantly. My friends were on it constantly. It was the hot ticket for a time. But now I go on much less frequently, the people I know go on much less frequently (the real people I know, not the proverbial “Facebook Friends”), and my timeline seems to be filled with ads and “suggested for you” posts that I have successfully tricked the algorithm into thinking I’d really be interested in when I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than read them. OK, I am a sucker for a good listicle I’ll admit it. But really, everyone is on to the scam quizzes about what Disney villain you’d be or what your stripper name would be. Not only is the bloom off the rose, the rose it wilted and beginning to shed it’s petals.
Will Facebook wither up and blow away? No, it will still be around. It will still be an advertising medium that a relative few dollars will flow to. And one day when someone sees an opportunity it will be swallowed up by a larger company (Amazon?) and become assimilated into the Borg that is that larger company
On the back of the Facebook sign at One Hacker Way in Menlo Park is the sign for Sun Microsystems. Facebook’s campus used to be the Sun Microsystem campus. Legend has it Zuckerberg insisted on the sign being turned around and reused as a reminder to his employees that just like Sun Micro was once the king of the tech world, Facebook could one day find itself having slipped from the penthouse to the outhouse.
That day is rapidly approaching.
And if you think I’m out of my head and this scenario couldn’t possibly happen I’d ask you this one question: When was the last time you bought something on eBay?
And the dice just keep on a tumblin’.