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Is Facebook Too Big To Fail?

Ex-Myspace strategist warns of Facebook's future

Facebook is the undeniable giant of social media, seemingly to have been in existence for all living memory and infiltrated the most intimate corners of our personal lives on and off the web. But it’s not so long ago that all the talk focused on another social media giant, and we all know what happened to Myspace.

Although Myspace and Facebook have always been inherently different – the former was more of a media brand, with an emphasis on music like Spotify today, whilst the latter is more of a technological tool (an area that Myspace detrimentally failed to invest enough in) – history both past and recent would tell us that no, Facebook is not too big to fail. In a recent article for The Guardian, Ex-Myspace communications strategist Paul Armstrong warns Zuckerberg to take heed of these three potential spanners in his global scale works:

Don’t be too focused on advertising

Facebook has grown up on ads, and users are begrudgingly aware of this – the site recently announced that more than 60% of its £1.7bn is generated from mobile advertising. You may not always notice these ‘sponsored’ links but they litter your homepage. Armstrong warns that Facebook should not become blindsided by ad opportunities, and ensure that they are paying attention to the News Feed and projects to improve user experience.

Don’t dumb it down

Armstrong notes that all social networks struggle with transparency and honesty – they seem fearful of helping users make full use of their platform’s functionality and educating users on how to use the site, and not be used by it; Facebook’s ever changing and complicated privacy settings are a good example of this. He suggests that it’s part of a ‘keep them dumb and keep them hungry’ strategy.

Don’t lose sight of the fundamentals

Armstrong says that Myspace lost its way in trying to be too many things in too short a time span. This applies to Facebook too. Many are sceptical as to the company’s motives, as we’ve seen in the recent altering of our newsfeeds as part of a psychological assessment – this isn’t what people signed up for, and if similar stunts continue people will begin to log off for good. Indeed, it’s been well documented that many young people are falling out of love with the network, turning to newer social media startups.

Armstrong recommends that Zuckerberg addresses these suspicions and sceptics with a more open and honest approach – informing users of the company’s intentions so as to appease anxious users.

So will Facebook fail?

It’s a tale of two sides, as reports of increased ad sales battle with a young user exodus. Despite recent breaches of trust, ongoing social experiments and the continuing debates about public and private boundaries, Facebook continues to provide products and services its users love.

It seems that Facebook is on a path to somewhere, but none of its users are aware of where the company (and by association, us) is headed. A tipping point will be reached sooner or later, and only then will we find out Facebook’s fate.

Paul Armstrong runs Here/Forth – follow him on Twitter @paul__armstrong

Is Facebook Too Big To Fail? Reviewed by Anonymous on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 Rating: 5
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