The End of Social Networking, or Just Facebook?

The media’s love affair with Facebook may be officially over. As Virginia Heffernan writes in the Sunday’s New York Times Magazine:

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. Facebook, the online social grid, could not command loyalty forever. If you ask around, as I did, you’ll find quitters. One person shut down her account because she disliked how nosy it made her. Another thought the scene had turned desperate. A third feared stalkers. A fourth believed his privacy was compromised. A fifth disappeared without a word.

Yet she admits that “the exodus is not evident” in the numbers, as the site is still adding users and had nearly 88 million unique visitors in July. Things, it seems, aren’t that bad.

But the more important question, in my view, is if Facebook, Myspace, and others like it are just the cool new toy that nobody wants to play with anymore, or is there something more enduring about social networking platforms. Given the number of new tools that have taken their own slant on social networking (Good Reads, for example), the benefit that many users still see in occasional, passive networking for professional or personal reasons and perhaps most importantly, the potential for sites to start to figure out how to sustain themselves or (gasp) turn a profit by selling targeted advertising or information on networks of users to sponsors (even if that commercialization will drive some away), I’d say the end isn’t here just yet.

We also shouldn’t forget that not all societies are equal when it comes to social networking. Italians are crazy about Facebook if my former colleague Corinna is any indication, and as we’ve written here recently, Russians are the top social networkers in the world, starting with vkontakte, initially a carbon copy of Facebook. And even before it was translated into Arabic, Facebook had over 9 million users in Egypt. Even if the US market starts to dry up, Facebook and sites like it have a number of overseas markets to grow into; that is if homegrown versions don’t get there first. In short, I don’t think we’ve heard anything like the death knell of social networking, or even Facebook. If only we could ponder the same thing about email.

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “The End of Social Networking, or Just Facebook?”

  1. ambara Says:

    Facebook and myspace are growing fast.. somone or vendor must get just find the cool new toy,..
    remember that friendster is growing fast and become the best social network, and then facebook famous with cool function inside the site. tahn facebook growing fast When Obama using facebook to campaign.
    we will see next social network site come with best offer