Facebook “Dead and Buried” For Young?
According to an article in the Guardian “Facebook is ‘dead and buried’ to older teenagers, an extensive European study has found, as the key age group moves on to Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat”. The article is based on research by Daniel Miller of UCL. The article cites a blog post by Miller that claims: “What we’ve learned from working with 16-18 year olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried. Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it. Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives. Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected. In response, the young are moving on to cooler things.” He concludes that: “For anthropologists each media is best defined in relation to the others… . So Facebook may look the same in 2014, but it has changed by virtue of this new competition. In my school research, the closest friends are connected to each other via Snapchat, WhatsApp is used to communicate with quite close friends and Twitter the wider friends. Instagram can include strangers and is used a little differently. Facebook, on the other hand, has become the link with older family, or even older siblings who have gone to university. To prevent overgrazing as others beasts have occupied its terrain, Facebook has to feed off somewhere else. It has thereby evolved into a very different animal. “.
The claim that young people are becoming sophisticated users of multiple social networks is plausible, but the claim that Facebook is “dead and buried” isn’t even supported by the rest of the article. The final paragraph implies that the growth of other social messaging platforms has been at the expense of Facebook, but Facebook and the rest have all been trying to displace SMS amongst users of all ages as feature and smart phones have taken off. Rather than morphing into something new, the less interesting insight is that Facebook started out as a social network platform that has failed to morph into a dominant messaging platform.