Matthew Gates 7m 1,863 #facebook
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Facebook Is No Longer Cool
Back in 2004, exactly 18 years, when Facebook was founded, edu email accounts were all that was accepted. It was a website that was created by a college student from Harvard University for college students, specifically at the university level. I was just graduating high school, trying to get away from my addiction to computers, and hardly interested anymore, though I would still sign up for an account in 2006 or 2007 “to keep in touch”. Unbeknownst to me at the time, computers would eventually become my future.
Facebook was brand new and 90% of the features that currently exist on Facebook now didn’t exist, while 90% of the features that didn’t exist on Facebook now exist. Facebook was that cool place you went to and poked your friends or posted on their walls or even used it as a place for your own expression. It was a giant leap ahead of having to use email or AOL Instant Messenger to chat.
Facebook only came in one color and one template, as its creator, Mark Zuckerberg is colorblind and set the background as a permanent style of blue. It was beautiful and it worked. It was also a free platform and once the restriction of only edu emails were removed, the public became aware.
Multiple features would soon be added to Facebook, such as the Groups feature, that began attracting companies and soon mainstream media began adapting it. It took a few more years for a company to adapt and bring it into the light of the general public, and once that was completed, Facebook and other social media platforms enjoyed an intense growth process where everyone began using these tools.
Initially, regular companies were very hesitant to begin using any type of social media, believing it was only for “teenagers” and “kids”, not realizing that it would escalate billions of dollars in added revenue, as companies created groups and began engaging with their fans and customers.
This played a great part in understanding human psychology and what people craved most: interactions with companies and celebrities was as easy as leaving a comment, and special deals could soon be offered to fans of the group. Almost 20 years later and social media has a very dominant place in the world.
Facebook has become the dominant tool of most companies to engage with the fans and customers, talking with them, posting symbolic representations, such as memes and other things that represent the company, and even offering special products or discounts.
Facebook is an excellent communication tool acquiring over a billion users and the fact is, Facebook has so many users that the majority of people on Facebook are actually dead. Yet Facebook remains #1 which is the reason that it will eventually face an inevitable death.
Facebook was popular among my generation, who are considered millennials and are in their 30s. In fact, the age of Mark Zuckerberg give or take 10 years is often the age of the majority of Facebook users, though it has attracted the older generations that needed a way to keep in touch and communicate with their children.
It became lame and less cool when our parents joined, but most of us accepted it. However, the least popular age group for Facebook is actually among teenagers, who find themselves navigating other platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, which are more video- and photogenic. While Facebook may have many of the same tools, oftentimes, its usually in the design.
The reasons for the inevitable death are apparently because as the generations will age, there will be new social media tools that will be seen as the place to be or the place to go. Facebook still has very much a stronghold over businesses and will likely continue on strong for at least another 50 years until either Zuckerberg or his team figure out and understand the needs and wants of younger generations, which may likely be helped and assisted by his own children.
Convincing the younger generations to use Facebook may only be accompanied by the fact that the parents of those children are likely to continue using it as a place for communication. Facebook is still a good and solid platform to use and even when it goes down, its presence missing is very noticed, even costing companies billions of dollars for every minute it remains out of order.
Over the years, especially made apparent during the Trump Presidency, Facebook began to show its true colors, without intending to do so. Facebook became tasked with a growing problem that continues to this day: fake news and perspective news. Fake news became a business for many people and companies to make up news in order to get a reaction from people. Unfortunately, as it was left unnoticed for years, it grew to the point where it became a huge problem for politicians and mainstream media. There were also several other growing problems that came along with fake news: censorship and fact checking.
Whether you made the wrong comment, liked too many posts, or even posted something that Facebook censors don’t agree with, your account is restricted and you face a ban. Instead of figuring out ways to cope with its regular users, Facebook preferred to take the method that everyone is a possible spammer and their content needed to go through a filter process, noted when you publish a post, and it takes a few seconds for it to actually be published.
While it is rare for Facebook to ban accounts outright, its restrictions limit a person to not being able to make comments, like any posts, or post anything, and these restrictions can last for up to 30 days or more. This is where Facebook really began to become “uncool” but at the same time, it was the only way to combat “fake news” and other unwanted content. Unfortunately, it also created a plethora of martyrs who continued to use Facebook and push the limits of what could be allowed through, as even legitimate posts and comments, in the era of Everyone Is Offended By Everything, were getting people banned who were otherwise good people and meant no harm in anything they did.
Facebook fact checking became a questionable issue, not because the fact checking was wrong or even provided false information, but the way it fact checked its information, often checking and presenting half-truths of information. Facebook fact checkers did such a great job at fact checking that it paved a way for even greater censor and control the way information is shared, whether it was meant lightly or very seriously.
Facebook’s censorship is at the point where information from the political spectrum of the Left is seen as hard truth with very little fact checking, while information from the Right is fact checked constantly. The issue with one side being favored over the other is that the bias of Facebook cannot be hidden. If one side is fact check, the other side must receive the same treatment. Fortunately, later on, there would be a lot of questionable materials that Facebook refuses or does not fact check, which ultimately is also another leading cause of death in keeping Facebook relevant.
Unfortunately, while the idea of the Facebook fact checking sounds great in theory, it actually looks more like this:
Fact checking was very tunnel-focused and while it was true that it would deem things false because it was taken out of context, ironically, Facebook also would take things out of context and fact check them. Despite its efforts to curb misleading information, it ended up becoming a big part of the problem when alternative fact checkers began fact checking the Facebook fact checkers.
Facebook fact checking was implemented due to political pressure from politicians in Congress to ensure truth was being told and fake news was not being escalated. Even PolitiFacts, a fact-checking team that fact checks politicians, teamed up with Facebook, to try and curb the incessant false and fake information being shared, finding that, as of this writing (end of November 2021), found that of the 2,688 pieces of information shared on Facebook, the majority of information is false.
With a massive platform, Facebook has its work cut out for it and must find a balance between labeling things as fact, fiction, or satire information, which is information that was meant to be funny, but also known not to be true. Unfortunately, as the world got crazy, more articles, despite being written as false and satire, started to look as if they were true, and The Onion looked as if it was telling the truth more than mainstream media at times.
Facebook is one of the most advanced technology companies in the world but still struggles with a very big problem of misleading information, no matter who has shared it, Democrats or Republicans, Conservatives or Liberals, Left or Right. It hardly matters as Facebook users, especially older ones, tend to believe the news they see on Facebook is actually real.
As of 2021, Facebook’s popularity among its regular users seems to have hit a low point, with many of its users greatly limiting their time on Facebook or disabling Facebook from their lives completely. Facebook is also going through a name change known as Meta and with that, likely a change in the design of its platform.
Facebook may continue to offer its old platform and even access to its old name, but is attempting to make big changes in order to attract a new and bigger audience again. Unfortunately, until Facebook has officially figured out how to eliminate its major issues, while still treating its users like human beings, Facebook will continue to face a decline in popularity.
As other platforms cater to their users and become more appealing, as generations who used Facebook as their primary social media network die out, the platform will inevitably face a true crisis, but fortunately, Facebook very likely will remain for at least a half- to an entire century longer as a dominant and competing platform, and one of the first major players to connect and network the entire world together, bringing in over a billion people from around the world, reconnecting families and friends, and turning an otherwise disconnected world into the most connected it will ever be.
Without Facebook, the world would hardly be where it is today, but because Facebook was established, it gets credit for being one of the best places to have existed on the Internet. Lastly, I must give a great credit to Facebook for being a part of the process in helping me complete my COVID-19 quarantine project to obtain the story of at least one woman from every country in the world, known as My Life As A Woman Project. With over 500 women participating in the blog project, it was quickly turned into a book called My Life As A Woman: World Edition in 2020, and for that reason alone, Facebook remains one of the greatest Internet networking tools of the 21st century.