Whenever someone says, ocial media’, Facebook is one of the first platforms that comes to mind. For the past decade, Facebook has been a social media idol. So much so, that the two terms are almost synonymous. But one can only hold a throne for so long (just don’t tell The Queen).
Facebook’s popularity took a nosedive after the company faced accusations of damage to security and data of various companies and individuals. And the freefall is expected to continue, with data suggesting that 2 million people under the age of 25 will quit the site due to arising security concerns. But why are ads and promotions despised so much?
Think of your inbox or newsfeed as a private area. VIP: You’re welcome by invite only. This is a serene space where you come to relax, catch up on the latest gossip, check in on world disasters, and follow your interests. You follow people and businesses for a reason—because you are intrigued by them, like them, or support them—so you want your dash to be a collection of those things.
Then, the infamous Facebook Ad comes waltzing in like he owns the place, and you feel violated. Some sneak into your feed disguised as regular posts while others keep to the dedicated section (when you’re viewing your feed on your desktop). And the worst part is, these ads seem to stalk.
They know what you’re interested in, what you like, and what you’ve searched before. Facebook collects information while you post, comment, click, and search, shamelessly invading your privacy and using the gathered data to flood your screen with targeted ads.
To better explain the disaster such invasions can result in, we could take a look at the downfall of MySpace—the predecessor to Facebook’s throne. MySpace used to be the most visited social networking site in the world, and in 2006 it even surpassed Google as the most visited site in the US. But can you remember the last time anyone mentioned the platform?
No? So, what happened?
MySpace underwent a change of ownership and the new owners decided to set their sights on monetizing the service.
They flooded their users with ads while not doing much to improve those users’ experience, which resulted in an incredibly fast down from the high. In 2011, the owners sold the company for $35 million, insignificant when compared to the $580 million they initially bought it for.
Yes, they provide you with personalized ads based on your likes and dislikes, but it makes you feel like you’re being sold—because you are. There’s a saying that goes, “if you are not paying for the product, you are the product” and Facebook is a live testimony to this. They make all of their revenue from advertising by selling you, as potential customer, to the horde of businesses with ads featured on your feed.
They even take impersonalization a step further by allowing autobots to auto-generate and update community pages by using information from the web. These bots could interact with you, post things about your business, etc. without you having much control over it. Take a look at Yahoo Messenger, for example. They had a meltdown because the abundance of non-humans became so invasive that privacy became a huge concern—you never knew if the “person” you’re talking to and sharing information with was real or not. Now, Facebook is approaching the same issue. The number of fake profiles is astounding, and you never know if you’re safe anymore.
It’s Downright Annoying
People’s annoyance with ads can be traced all the way back to the advent of cable television. While ads were minimal in the beginning, they started eating up more and more of the actual shows’ screen time—now, taking up around 25% of each television hour.
Consequently, people are spending less and less time and money on cable television. For watching TV shows and series, the new generation makes use of Netflix and other online streaming platforms where ads are minimal and can often be skipped after the first 5 seconds.
Facebook’s users display the same annoyance and are steadily moving to other social media platforms with less ads and other privacy concerns. For a lot of individuals Facebook simply isn’t a pleasure to use anymore and the lack of security is infuriating.
This begs the question: Can Facebook afford to keep going like they are? And if so, how long will it be before the very ads which ensured their wealth causes their downfall?
Sponsored by Galactic Mandate