Where does Facebook go now?

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By Joshua Ostrer

The 1.11 billion-person social network is losing some of its users

When you open up your Internet browser, chances are you shortly thereafter open up Facebook, the social media super-giant. Since its creation in 2004, Facebook has become the dominant social network, boasting 1.11 billion total users, 665 million daily users, 50 million pages and 751 million mobile users.

Facebook is without a doubt an impressively developed social network, but where is it to go now? Facebook must now confront a new challenge: What do they do once everyone already has a Facebook?

“The problem is that, in the U.S. and U.K., most people who want to sign up for Facebook have already done it. There is a boredom factor where people like to try something new. Is Facebook going to go the way of MySpace? The risk is relatively small, but that is not to say it isn’t there,” said Ian Maude of Enders Analysis to Yahoo News.

Let us not forget, back in 2008, MySpace reached 100 million users, making it the world’s largest social network from 2005 until 2008.

Only three years later, MySpace was down to 25 million, and ranked nowhere near the social networks of today: Twitter with 500 million users, Linkedin with 200 million users, Instagram with 100 million, Google+ with 343 million. The point being that the social-media throne is not necessarily ever-lasting.

The social media market is a quick-moving one: Path, a social network founded by ex-Facebook employee Dave Morin has gained 1 million users in a week, even gaining 500,000 users in a single weekend.

How long social media sites last is never a sure thing; sites like Facebook need to be constantly evolving to stay in the spotlight.

Facebook recently rolled out “Facebook Home,” a pervasive smartphone-app that basically allows the user to browse their news feed from their home page, and instantly share anything they wish. But is it enough?

Facebook has lost six million users in the United States, and 1.4 million users in the United Kingdom in the past month alone. While the losses only represent 4 percent and 4.5 percent of their respective Facebook-using populations, they are losses, and in two of the heaviest Facebook-using countries; 51.20 percent of Americans have a Facebook and 49.98 percent of the British have a Facebook.

Not to panic, Facebook is still expanding in other international markets: Facebook users increased 6 percent last month in Brazil (which now has 70 million users) and 4 percent in India (which now has 64 million total users).

While many tech experts are speculating what this past month means for Facebook, the facts show that Facebook has lost users in two of its biggest markets and gained in two of its weaker ones. Could this mean that Facebook is starting to get boring for those that have had it for a while? Possibly.

If you go around telling your friends “I’m thinking about deleting my Facebook,” chances are that a few of them will say something along the lines of “Yeah, I was thinking about it too.”

But even if we are tiring of Facebook, will we ever actually split completely from it? Who knows.

The issue of privacy on Facebook is gaining notoriety. Facebook has come under fire on multiple occasions for sharing the contents of people’s pages to their advertising partners. This has prompted an apparently increasing concern amongst Facebook users.

Social Media Statistics 2013, a study by dazeinfo.com, on the first quarter of 2013 has found that 63 percent of users have modified their default privacy settings, 4 out of 10 users “expressed concern about the manner their data was handled,” and that 26 percent “of users who keep their profiles private say they apply additional privacy settings to limit the exposure of their personal data.”

What is interesting about the findings is that users concerned with privacy were more concerned about their friends seeing their page than with companies selling the contents of their pages.

For the Facebook user concerned with their privacy amongst advertising companies, the only real option is leaving Facebook.

Facebook, a publicly traded company, relies on its revenue stream from advertisers. Some believe that Facebook will struggle as an increasingly large number of social networks promise more comprehensive privacy experience success, like Dave Morin’s Path for one.

For now, however, more private social networks are in the minority, and Facebook is still very much alive and well.

In the first quarter of 2013, Facebook took in $1.458 billion in revenue, and on top of its 1.11 billion users, just reached 100 million active monthly users for the first time on Instagram, a network acquired by Facebook in April 2012 for approximately $1 billion.

Facebook is still a powerful and popular social network, but how long will Facebook’s run last? Who knows. The social network will have to continue to evolve to keep its stake amongst social networks, and only time will tell if it can do so well enough.

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