Facebook was a great way to connect with friends and family, and – if you were a small business – with potential and existing clients. That seems to be changing. It seems we may have reached, or surpassed, “peak Facebook”.
Earlier this year market research firm eMarketer predicted 2 million people under the age of 25 will stop using the social network in 2018 in favour of competitor networks such as Instagram and Snapchat. Around 43 per cent of social media users will use Snapchat this year, which eMarketer said is more than twice its penetration rate from three years ago. The once hip and edgy Facebook is increasingly identified with grey beards.
Facebook has been under fire for all sorts of reasons, including its role as de facto censor of free speech, after it de-platformed the hugely popular Alt-Right publisher Alex Jones of Infowars, supposedly for hate speech. Free speech absolutists have condemned the move as a descent into fascism, and are calling for Facebook, Google and other private utilities to be regulated and broken up.
Now small businesses are deserting Facebook, but for entirely different reasons. Recent policy changes at the company reduce the volume of public content (the kind of videos and memes people share with each other) in favour of posts from family and friends. NBC reports that some people making a decent living from reposting public content on their Facebook pages have seen a drop in traffic – sometimes as high as 60%. Many small businesses and accounting practices use Facebook as a way to stay connected with new and potential clients, but some of those who have been adversely affected by the new policy changes are moving over to competitor networks such as Maven. For them, Facebook has fiddled once too many times with its algorithms and where money is involved, people will move to the greenest pastures.