The other day I had a message on Facebook from a name I didn’t recognise. It was a school friend I haven’t seen for a long time. Incognito.
Fake name, fake picture. Now my friend isn’t creepy, nor unhinged, nor a spy (as far as I’m aware). She told me she’d deleted her old profile and had created an unidentifiable new one so she could ‘cherry pick’ who she wanted to stay in contact with. She wanted to lose the Facebook baggage of every classmate, colleague and acquaintance knowing so much about her current life.
My friend isn’t the only person I know disillusioned with Facebook as it stands. It’s not just to do with privacy concerns. As with anything, as soon as it becomes mainstream, there is a minority who will be over it. I suspect my friend is still using as it is so undeniably useful, rather than because she particularly wants to spend time on Procrastination.com.
More and more people are saying that they are either deleting their accounts, or ‘just never log in anymore’. Those saying this are the type of individuals who seem to know about all of the cool, innovative stuff before you do – in short, the influential early adopters. My ‘incognito’ friend wouldn’t like to be called a hipster (nor is she try-hard enough to be one), but for every organic coffee shop out there creating itself a Facebook fan page, there is a hipster, somewhere, bemoaning Facebook’s very existence. (Probably whilst drinking a Flat White in said organic coffee shop.)
Obviously, for the most part Facebook does not need to be worried. It is still growing; a hungry behemoth attracting an ever wider demographic – including everyone’s parents, much to the despair of many. It’s scary to think about the level of information – and therefore power – it holds. With more than 500 million active users globally, Facebook knows more about us than governments do.
Facebook is addressing privacy concerns, looking to make the site more about personal sharing with the new groups and the send button. There is also a host of new social networks popping up to meet the demand for more personal sharing, such as Diaspora, Path, Chattertree, Fridge and the social app MyTies.
Facebook may seem indestructible, and it is indeed on a far bigger scale than any social network that has ever existed… yet Myspace and Bebo’s grip over scene kids and tweens respectively a few years back appeared to be watertight. The internet moves so quickly nothing is guaranteed. Even if 95% of the world population is on Facebook, if a cool, alternative brand is targeting the edgier 5% then it may be set to miss out.
There is a definite backlash. If a brand is looking to target twenty-something influencers and early adopters, the knee-jerk Facebook page may not be the place to start.