Is Facebook past its prime?

Nobody left to 'friend'? Too many friends anyway? Why Facebook when you can Twitter? In the here-today-gone-tomorrow world of social media, these common complaints may mark the beginning of the end of Facebook's enormous popularity.

Is Facebook on its last legs? Is it going to pull a MySpace on us? Will Facebook be the Internet's hip site du jour one day, then suddenly lose the love and affection of most of its followers the next? We hope not. But various irritations associated with the site could contribute to its eventual demise.

Already, in the first quarter of this year, the "bounce rate"--the percentage of visits to Facebook.com that consist of a single page view and then a quick exit--has grown by 19 percent, according to Internet traffic research firm Alexa. Though that statistic hardly qualifies as conclusive proof of Facebook's imminent demise, it does raise the possibility that a large number of Facebookers are surfing over to the site, finding little there of interest, and promptly leaving.

Here are some reasons Facebook might be losing its grip on people's online networking lives.

1. Facebook Veterans Are Defecting to Twitter

167206-162785-twitter_usage_chart1_original_original

People who delight in constant updates are the lifeblood of Facebook--but many of them are flocking to Twitter. When it comes to intense scrutiny of everyday trivialities, Twitter thoroughly out-Facebooks Facebook, where two or three status updates a day is the maximum before you start looking like a loser.

And even though you can update Facebook from your phone, Twitter feels more mobile. It gives the impression that you're out and about, simultaneously doing something important and tweeting about it, whereas updating your Facebook page implies that you're sitting by yourself at a computer with nothing better to do.

2. People Who Actually Have Lives Don't Use Facebook

If you're starring in a major motion picture or negotiating a trade agreement with Austria or training for next month's triathlon or competing for a spot on the Space Shuttle, chances are you're not spending much time on Facebook. And if you are doing any of these things and happen to have a Facebook page, you probably aren't maintaining it very diligently.

There's a growing sense among Facebook users that the amount of time a person spends on Facebook may be inversey proportionate to how much is going on in the person's (offline) life. Perhaps unfairly, you may get the impression that only bored and boring people have time to tell their friends that they love the new pita bread at Trader Joe's.

3. In the Real World, People Often Have Good Reasons for Losing Touch With Old Friends

For so long, the thrill of Facebook was about reconnecting with people you thought you'd never see again. ("Oh, Little Miss Popular from high school! Did she end up really fat?" ... "Oh, that hot guy from calculus class. Is he married now?") And so on and so on. But now veteran Facebookers find themselves at an impasse: There's nobody left. Having reestablished ties with a few hundred friends from your past, you may be wracking your brain for additional lost acquaintances to "invite." When you find yourself trying to find and friend the janitor at your old middle school, you know it's become a problem.

Meanwhile, as your rediscovered friends update you about their everyday goings-on, they offer you a multiple opportunities to recall the reasons you lost contact with them in the first place. Examples: "Don" was always a nonsensical rambler back in college--and lo and behold, his rants take up half of your news feed now. "Heidi" always sucked up in English class, and she finds ample opportunity on Facebook to display her mindless sycophancy anew. No wonder you neglected to fulfill your yearbook promises to "stay in touch!" Facebook has recently started allowing users to "hide" their friends, and you may be inclined to "hide" almost all of them.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MySpacesocial networkingtwitterFacebook

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Hillary Rhodes

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?