Is Facebook irreplaceable?

Published March 5, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Wilma I. Miranda
Wilma I. Miranda

When Facebook was still at its infancy stage, people use it primarily for personal reasons. For instance, I started using it to see the pictures of our friends, family, co-workers and they will usually tell me to create a Facebook account to view the pictures. At first I am wary, because it looks scary to be exposing oneself in social media. But I maximize the privacy settings that most of the data I posted I defaulted it at Only Me as the audience. But later I found it more fun to share pictures with friends so I change the settings to Friends Only. Even the friends I accepted are only those who are really close to me or whom I know personally well although I also declined request from friends or even relatives who I am not comfortable with. I would always wonder how some people have 2k or more friends or even reached the maximum of 5k friends allowed by Facebook when I am already quite cautious with a handful of friends? I am now more open to have acquaintances in my friends list but still I make sure these are people I can trust at the same time careful with what I post. And I found it very convenient to store important photos; in fact I used to make it as a backup storage for my photos because I can easily find it and the file is intact. Now I found an alternative storage of my photos with Google photo and Google Drive applications.

At that time, as most of us also probably think, that Facebook is just a social media meant for personal consumption. Fast forward to today, Facebook dominated the social media for 15 years with over 2BN active users, Instagram from 700MM in September 2017 to 1 BN in June 2018 and WhatsApp with 1.5BN users as of 1.31.18. Facebook bought Instagram for $715MM in 2012 and WhatsApp for $19BN.

Nowadays, more people visit the Facebook page of a business than their websites. It is also easier to post in Facebook page than in one’s own website. A business entity can also see how many visits or views or followers their page has without the use of a third party applications and it is cheaper than maintaining a website. But of course websites has its benefits. For one, the issue of credibility. Consumers or clients trust a business more if they have their own website than just a Facebook page. So the clue there is to have both; by posting one’s domain address in the Facebook page which can attract more audience and direct them to the website where one can be creative in placing more contents.

And the issue here is that in case Facebook will disappear as a social media platform, your Facebook page and your personal account and your precious photos will also disappear. But is there really a possibility in the future when Facebook will disappear? If so, when this will be and what will replace it?

The shares of Facebook started falling since January 2019 by 27% because of controversial issues like sharing the data of 90M users without permission and allowing Russia to interfere in the last US elections. So Facebook is not invincible and because of its size its fall may be gradual and not to happen next year but may take five years or more; that is if they are not careful and start correcting their flaws.

Observers likened it to Yahoo which is the most popular in its heydays although they have not reached as big as Facebook and the latter does not face a big competition like Yahoo. The one thing that brought Yahoo decline is because it lost to Google on its online search and advertisers left as users flock to Google. However, the advantage of Facebook is there is no competitor now because their strategy is to buy out impending competitors such as Instagram and WhatsApp.

But all signs are there which are similar to Yahoo’s collapse such as executive turnover and another crucial thing is they have to deal with the consumer ways of changing their use of Facebook. For one, adults over the age of 18 years old are spending 31% less time on Facebook’s core social network compared two years ago (source: The Economist November 24,2018), which will affect their opportunity to sell their ads.

For the meantime, we, the users, should maximize whatever benefits Facebook can give us until that time when we can have the alternative to switch – and let us just be careful – the issue of privacy is not just important but very important.

(Wilma Miranda is the Managing Partner of Inventor, Miranda & Associates, CPAs and Member of the Board of Directors of KPS Outsourcing, Inc. The opinions expressed herein are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of these institutions)