I’m always on the lookout for perspective on how social networks are impacting our society. Here are two recent pieces that bubbled up through the noise this week.

The first speaks to fundamentals of how we have traditionally connected to our social networks and how technology is augmenting this practice. The arguments is basically that we’ve #gamed/#hacked human behavior and that we’re undermining the intended goals of the behavior in the process. I see this as apposed to how social networks position what they do as “amplifying existing social behaviors” (an idea appropriated from Steve Job – 6:75). I’ll let you decide which you think is really happening.

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

And then there’s this article on Facebook Fading from the Bits blog of the NYTimes. A quote “… during a quarterly earnings call, David A. Ebersman, Facebook’s chief financial officer, made a startling acknowledgment. Facebook had noticed “a decrease in daily users, specifically among younger teens,” he said.” Is this just a momentary lull in the meteoric rise of the platform or is it a deep glitch in the growth-hacking model that they’ve developed?

Combined these articles point to a technology that is not fulfilling it’s promise and the fact that we’re beginning to see the evidence of this fact. I find this view a reductive because I Facebook has both amplified existing behaviors and hijacked them. In terms of the data shared in the recent earnings call,  citing a single datapoint is not sufficient evidence to identify  a trend. There are many factors at play that could impact this point including Facebook’s aggressive acquisition strategy.

Instead, when I survey this discourse about Facebook I observe that there is an appetite -even a desire- to see Facebook stumble. Call it a backlash and this impulse gets conflated with comments about whether or not we’ll even be talking about “social business” in a few years from now. In my opinion, businesses have always needed to interface with (be social with) our social networks (in our neighborhoods or news-feeds) and that’s not going to change. If social business is about how we manage that interface than I think it’s got a long future, whatever we call it.

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One Comment to A Backlash Against Social Networks

  1. Ian Armstrong says:

    As someone with a fairly strong position in FB as an investor, this is an interesting topic to me, and I’m sorry I hadn’t seen your post sooner. I’ve had just a ton of work on my plate.

    My thoughts on are:

    1. Young teens don’t use social networks the same way that older teens or adults do. For them, everything is still entertainment. Once they get to high school, where an entire social life including after school clubs is managed through Facebook, it becomes a necessity.

    2. This is part of what made the Instagram purchase so deft. It’s one of the transient/entertaining social networks that attracts a ton of teens, The audience remains captured either way.

    As netizens of the Bay Area, I’m sure we both know a ton of people who work there in some capacity. They’re very bright folks and they’ve thought about all of this well ahead of the ultra-reactive market or the media.

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