This weekend seemed to be the chosen time tech journalists got together to tell readers that Facebook is over.
First, the Verge started off the Facebook burn by saying teenagers are leaving Facebook in droves. The proof? The writer asked his 15-year-old cousin for confirmation, which is what passes for tech journalism these days. The report was then followed up by the New York Times' Nick Bilton, who suggested that Facebook is suppressing content unless users are willing to pay the social network to promote it. The evidence? The shares and likes on his Sunday column have dropped dramatically and he wrote that he was "duped" into believing that Facebook would play fair. "Maybe its users will grow so tired of what seems like another bait-and-switch that they will decide to stop sharing, even if it seems to be free," Bilton wrote.
(While it could be its algorithm, or the way it places paid content at the top of its news feed, Facebook denied it had much of an effect. Instead, it said it doesn't reduce distribution and ads don't have that much impact on readership.)
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The Guardian also wrote a piece basically saying that every successful tech company only has a short time to wallow in success before it becomes irrelevant. Not surprisingly, Facebook was included in the report. The report also cited research on the social network Friendster, and scientists predicted the death of a social network based on two factors; the average number of friends users have and if the difficulty of using the site outweighs the perceived benefits. So far, with Facebook's more ads and less privacy, the perceived benefits appear to be shrinking in contrast to the costs.
So, we're not sure why the Facebook bashing seemed to reach fever-pitch this weekend, but we think it's likely that these reports seemed to feed off one another -- and in a sense even from this previous report in January where Garry Tan commissioned a survey of 10th graders on social networks. Strangely, Tan's survey was inspired by Branch founder Josh Miller's post about his 15-year-old sister liking Snapchat. (Spoiler alert: All the 15-year-olds still use Facebook a lot, but they don't love it.)
Are 15-year-old the arbiters of future cool? Even if we're inclined to say no, apparently there are a lot of people out there who seem to think this is the canary in the coal mine for Facebook. Essentially, people have been predicting the end of Facebook for the last three years, and eventually the naysayers will be correct because one day Facebook, like Friendster, like MySpace and even like Apple, will end because nothing lasts forever. But will that be a year, a decade, or a century from now?