Saturday, 2 December, 2023

Facebook At Crossroads

Dixya Poudel

Facebook has recently seen a drastic reduction in its users. Compared to previous quarter, active Facebook users fell from 1.930 billion to 1.929 billion during its fourth quarter in 2021. It even led to a steep fall in the share price of Facebook’s parent company Meta while its CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost $31 billion. And the statistics keep slipping for the social networking site. The truth is Facebook has lost its influence in the Gen Z who represents the future.

Like most millennials, I joined Facebook in 2007 when it was gaining heights. The term “Facebook me” was a trend then as rookie users took to Facebook like moths to a flame. Little did the world know how it would grow into world domination. Introduced in 2004, Facebook’s initial users were Harvard kids who used the social networking site to know more about their friends, what they were up to and who they were seeing. The relationship status in the site was really the highlight of the site as college students used it to socialise.

People then posted what they were thinking. Little moments of reflection that conveyed the mood of the users were shared on the site’s wall. Users also uploaded pictures of themselves and their friends. Back then, Facebook was one for the cool kids, long before it took the world by storm. It was really in the 2010s that the social media site grew exponentially. Now the parents of college kids were on Facebook, so were almost everyone. From a relatively small group of people, the site reached a huge demographic changing the way people communicated.

Parents used it to check on their children, couples found one another through the site and businesses with shrewd acumen grew online through the app. There was even a movie about it that really glorified the rise of the site. It was pertinently named The Social Network.

Facebook further grew in its stature as it acquired first Instagram and then WhatsApp. Both of these apps are known to be widely used throughout the world. For a decade it seemed that Mark Zuckerberg had an unrivalled sense of business. A dropout of Harvard, the CEO has had a hand in revolutionising the world. Yet, now in 2022, the CEO’s grip on the world seems to be waning. Has Facebook become obsolete?

It has come to light that Meta faces a strong competition from its rival video app, TikTok. Really TikTok has had an unprecedented rise since its launch. I am not on TikTok, so I can’t vouch for its details but I keep seeing it everywhere. It is shared profusely on Facebook and Instagram. Even children create TikTok posts while their parents too spend hours on the growing app. As a response, Meta created reels, a feature that has been introduced globally.

Meanwhile Meta has been busy investing billions into the creation of Metaverse. It is supposed to be the next step for the company in defining socialisation. And it is going to be 3D! The future will tell how it will fare in the global scenario. From the cluster of college kids to global rise, Facebook is now at a crossroads. It remains to be seen if it will become obsolete or defy its opposition’s speculations.