It’s not unusual for social media platforms to go in and out of public favor. Will Facebook be any different from the dead social media platforms that came before it?
In the last few months, Facebook’s involvement in a number of high-profile scandals forced the company’s public image into a nosedive.
What really pushed users over the edge was the latest Cambridge Analytica scandal. The revelation that the data firm had acquired Facebook data of 50 million Americans and used it to manipulate voters was the final straw.
It pushed many over the edge and the #DeleteFacebook Twitter movement broke out.
We’ve never advertised with FB. None of my companies buy advertising or pay famous people to fake endorse. Product lives or dies on its own merits.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 23, 2018
In the past, we have seen plenty of social media platforms rise and fall. Is Facebook doomed to be next?
All past social media platforms are dead in the sense of what they were in their prime. However, they still exist in a different form, haunting the Internet like ghosts.
Let’s take a mystery tour around the social media graveyard.
1. Does Anyone Remember Digg?
Our first stop is the tombstone of Digg. Back in the day, Digg was a popular platform where people could share ideas, photos, and videos.
Sounds just like every other form of social media we have ever come across doesn’t it? What set Digg aside was that it was completely anonymous. But that’s not why it failed.
Digg Dug its Own Grave
It seems the designers behind Digg got a bit ahead of themselves. Valued at $175 million in 2010, popularity went to their heads and they got a bit over excited with user interface and profile updates.
Too many rapid design changes left the site unrecognizable to users. Digg’s makeover was an epic flop. Loss of familiarity and ease of use caused many people to leave the site. Finally, a shadow of its former self, Digg was sold for a mere $500,000 in 2012.
Unsurprisingly, bad timing had a great deal to do with the fall of Digg.
Sites that remain integrated into our daily lives today started to appear on the scene. Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit were fresh, new, and exciting and began to steal users from Digg.
The Ghost of Digg Remains
However, we can’t leave Digg to rest in peace just yet. Today it exists as a blog that presents content aimed at young professionals.
It still gets around 1 million views a month, but its ghostly presence doesn’t come close to its former glory.
Bebo: Where Teen Nostalgia Went to Die
Ah, Bebo. Where many Irish and British teens left behind a trail of pouty teen selfies to fester in cyberspace. Too cringey to revisit, too nostalgic to delete; it is a perfect freeze-frame of the mid-2000s scene, emo, and teenage angst craze.
Bebo was the perfect platform for teenage gossip and drama to flourish. Your profile displayed your other half (BFF or BF? What a dilemma!), you could ‘share the love’, and publically rank your friends in order of preference. With Bebo, cyberbullying was new and rampant. But where is Bebo now?
Why did Bebo fail?
Once again Facebook took out Bebo in one foul swoop. Teenagers can be fickle at the best of times, and Facebook seemed cooler with its edgier design and pared back user experience. As Bebo’s young audience grew up, Facebook also provided a timely escape route from their cringey past.
Since then, this washed up social media platform has had its fair share of online scandals. Panic struck highschoolers who had grown up and moved on when the site appeared to have been deleted time and time again. This spurred on hashtag movements like #savebebo and #ripbebo.
However, Bebo never really went away.
The engineers behind Bebo piped up, claiming that it was merely going through some changes.
What’s Bebo Like Now?
Now, Bebo is unrecognizable from its past state. Bebo is now a Twitch Streaming site with around 45,000 monthly visitors.
Sold to AOL in 2008 for $850 million, in 2013 it was bought back by the original founders for just $1 million.
Like the captain of the football team, it seems that Bebo may have peaked too soon.
The Fall of MySpace
Our last stop is MySpace. This site was by far the most popular on our list in its time, which makes its fall the most peculiar.
Myspace seems ancient to us now but only went live in 2004. Within one month, over one million people signed up and in less than a year user numbers grew to 5 million.
MySpace was your typical social platform which allowed users to send messages and post bulletins. However, artists could also upload their complete mp3 discographies and sell their music from their profiles. Thanks to features like this MySpace gave us musicians like Adele, Skrillex, and Colbie Caillat.
It’s no surprise that popularity on MySpace often equated to real life fame. At one point, MySpace was the most visited social networking site in the world, even surpassing Google in 2006 as the most visited website in the United States. Just as it was gaining traction, News Corp bought MySpace for $580 million.
But, it was downhill from there. After peak valuation of MySpace at $12 billion in 2007, by 2009, MySpace only employed 1,600 workers. After that, the site’s value and visitors began to steadily melt away.
As for today, does anyone still use MySpace?
Why did MySpace Fail so miserably?
MySpace went from social media superstar to abandoned profile wasteland for two reasons.
Firstly, new owners with no internet experience chose to monetize the site by introducing paid ads and not really improving much else. Secondly, Facebook came on the scene and ate it up like Pacman.
While Facebook continually improved its interface and introduced new features while listening to its audience, MySpace kept everything the same while increasing the amount of paid ads on its site.
Where is MySpace Now?
I wouldn’t go as far as saying MySpace is still alive and kicking, but it’s still out there. It is currently a music and celebrity-focused blog going through a midlife crisis. Without any real quality content, the blog doesn’t seem to have any direction or purpose.
Amazingly, MySpace still has over 1.5 million visitors a month, but it’s nowhere near the social media giant it used to be. Although it would be amazing to see a post-ironic MySpace renaissance, for now, we can keep it in the graveyard with the other dead social media platforms.
Facebook’s Social Media Murder
Although each case is different, when it comes down to it, the social media sites failed for similar reasons. Usually, because creators either focused too much on the profits or refused to listen to their users.
What is also interesting but hardly shocking is what all these dead social media platforms have in common: Facebook. It seems to have wiped out platforms no matter how big or small. But why? What makes Facebook so special?
Was it timing and clever audience targeting? Facebook burst onto the scene when the Internet was more globally accessible than ever before.
The company has mastered markets in India, the Philippines, Egypt, and Brazil. In some less developed areas, it’s the most reliable way to keep in contact. In others, it has become a valuable source of news.
Will Facebook be one of the Next Dead Social Media Platforms?
Even if the 50 million Americans who had their data stolen abandoned Facebook this minute, it would barely make a dent in the site’s 2.1 billion global users. If it continues to grow at its current rate, it could easily reach three billion users by 2020.
Has Facebook learned from the mistakes of past dead social media platforms? Facebook constantly updates itself in attempts to make it more accessible and easy to use.
For example, after the global outcry over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook launched a new data privacy tool to appease its users. The new data privacy tool allows users to see and delete user data that the social media giant has collected. But will it be enough?
The more scandals come out, the more it becomes clear that people need to rethink what they actually want from social media sites. As they grow, social media companies need to rethink the impact that their sites have on society and the responsibility they have by default.