Mobile social apps are not, really, about free SMS. Mobile discovery and acquisition is a mess - it’s in a ‘pre-pagerank’ phase where we lack the right tools and paths to find and discover content and services efficiently. Social apps may well be a major part of this, as I discussed in detail here. These apps have the opportunity to be a third channel in parallel to Google and Facebook.

Benedict Evans, Whatsapp and $19bn

Facebook will lose 80% of users by 2017, say Princeton researchers -- Juliette Garside


Researchers predict that Facebook will become a small shadow of its current size, based on the tailing off off Google searches for the name. This is what befell Bebo and Myspace, and they believe it’s a contagion model, like passing germs around.

excerpted from The Guardian

John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler, from the US university’s mechanical and aerospace engineering department, have based their prediction on the number of times Facebook is typed into Google as a search term. The charts produced by the Google Trends service show Facebook searches peaked in December 2012 and have since begun to trail off.

"Ideas, like diseases, have been shown to spread infectiously between people before eventually dying out, and have been successfully described with epidemiological models," the authors claim in a paper entitled Epidemiological modelling of online social network dynamics.

"Ideas are spread through communicative contact between different people who share ideas with each other. Idea manifesters ultimately lose interest with the idea and no longer manifest the idea, which can be thought of as the gain of ‘immunity’ to the idea."

Facebook reported nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users in October, and is due to update investors on its traffic numbers at the end of the month. While desktop traffic to its websites has indeed been falling, this is at least in part due to the fact that many people now only access the network via their mobile phones.

For their study, Cannarella and Spechler used what is known as the SIR (susceptible, infected, recovered) model of disease, which creates equations to map the spread and recovery of epidemics.

They tested various equations against the lifespan of Myspace, before applying them to Facebook. Myspace was founded in 2003 and reached its peak in 2007 with 300 million registered users, before falling out of use by 2011. Purchased by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for $580m, Myspace signed a $900m deal with Google in 2006 to sell its advertising space and was at one point valued at $12bn. It was eventually sold by News Corp for just $35m.

The 870 million people using Facebook via their smartphones each month could explain the drop in Google searches – those looking to log on are no longer doing so by typing the word Facebook into Google.

But Facebook’s chief financial officer David Ebersman admitted on an earnings call with analysts that during the previous three months: “We did see a decrease in daily users, specifically among younger teens.”

Investors do not appear to be heading for the exit just yet. Facebook’s share price reached record highs this month, valuing founder Mark Zuckerberg’s company at $142bn.

I’ve been saying for year that Facebook is the new AOL. Like AOL, it was a gateway to a new world online — in Facebook’s case the social web, in AOL’s, the early, pre-social web — and everyone relied on it as a common denominator. And they proved that you can make a business on simplifying the complex for novices, but they won’t remain long. 

Teenagers and hipsters — who define new social scenes — are abandoning Facebook, as the company has admitted. Those are the canaries in the coal mine, portending the demise of the once great Facebook.


Yes, teenagers are leaving Facebook (mostly for Twitter and Snapchat it seems) but we wouldn’t say Facebook has a “problem”: they are gaining a lot more users in other age groups than they are losing teens and the buying power of these new users is much greater, which is what Facebook advertisers want anyway.

They can say they don’t care, but when the kids leave, it’s not hip anymore, and then you are in descent.


Yes, teenagers are leaving Facebook (mostly for Twitter and Snapchat it seems) but we wouldn’t say Facebook has a “problem”: they are gaining a lot more users in other age groups than they are losing teens and the buying power of these new users is much greater, which is what Facebook advertisers want anyway.

They can say they don’t care, but when the kids leave, it’s not hip anymore, and then you are in descent.

Why I Will Never Post A Comment On Huffington Post Again

Tim Mcdonald, Huffinton Post’s director of community, has announced that posting comments on HuffPo henceforth will require a Facebook identity, unless you apply for permission to post anonymously:

Tim Mcdonald, Turning the Page on Anonymity: The Future of HuffPost Comments

Now, as Arianna Huffington announced earlier this year, we’re going a step further to evolve our platform — which has always been about community and engagement — to meet the needs of the grown-up Internet. On December 10, after weeks of fine-tuning our commenting technology and platform, we are pulling the switch in a way that will keep the best parts about commenting on HuffPost while bringing more civility and accountability to the experience.

Here’s how to get started under this new system. When you log in to your account and go to make a comment, you will be prompted to link your commenting account to your verified Facebook account. Then, choose how you’d like your name to be displayed. You can either display your first and last names, or your first name and last initial. This is the only information that will be viewable to the community at large, and you will have control over your private information via Facebook’s privacy settings.

verified account

If you do not want to link your Huffington Post account to Facebook, you can still log in to your account and fan and fave other users and their comments. And if, for whatever reason, you fear posting a comment under your name — if you are a whistleblower, or fear harassment, or any other reason — you can apply for the right to comment anonymously by filling out this form.

Oh, yes, how very grown up! You must use only this one identity, and at all times and in all contexts, and we’ll put that power in the hands of a company — Facebook — that has proven itself incapable of putting the interests of people ahead of corporatism.

Now that Zuckerberg and co. are turning the Facebook news feed into a daily newspaper, maybe Facebook will acquire AOL and integrate HuffPo into the user experience directly.

Facebook, Still Dominant, Strives to Keep Cachet - Jenna Wortham, Vindu Goel, and Nicole Perlroth - NYTimes.com


The authors of this NY Times piece ask an interesting question about the compatibility of Snapchat’s imagined world and Facebook’s:


As for Snapchat, its compatibility with Facebook is unclear. Snapchat is centered on impermanence and offers privacy and anonymity. Facebook constantly pushes users to share more and is rooted in real-world identities and creating a permanent, largely public record of people’s daily lives and interactions.

Given these differences, the Snapchat bid looks like an attempt to corral back some of the cool factor in the form of young eyeballs. Three years ago, Snapchat did not even exist, and Facebook, with a valuation of $100 billion before its public offering, was the hot company. Now with younger users preferring Snapchat — which says it processes nearly as many photos as Facebook each day — Snapchat may well have the upper hand.

“It’s head-scratching,” said Christopher Poole, 25, the founder of 4chan, the message board. “From a business perspective, I understand it. But from a cultural perspective, it’s like, ‘Wait, what?’ ”

Mr. Poole said Facebook’s aggressive pursuit of Snapchat may point to an identity crisis of sorts.

“Does that mean that they’re willing to embrace an alternative to Facebook identity, or does it mean that they feel that threatened by it that they’d leave their own wheelhouse?”

But what of the larger question: is society (starting with the Snapchatting young) rejecting the Facebook notion of a single, unchanging identity and a global social network based on publicy? Yes. The fall of Facebook has started. Peak Facebook has already passed or will soon. Why?

The Benthamite underpinnings of Facebook are becoming unpopular. Young people in particular don’t want their teachers, parents, employers, and even all their friends to know everything going on in their lives. Oh, and the government. People want to have multiple, contextually defined identities, different circles of knowing, different non-overlapping rules of attraction. Everything is not everything.

Google is involved in a huge brouhaha now about imposing Google+ ‘real identities’ on YouTube commenting, which is an echo of the same shout for identity freedom.

My bet for the next answer is on social operating systems, although Google is moving down a dark road with Google+ identities, and Apple seems oddly reluctant to do anything social, natively. Perhaps the failure of Apple’s Ping has frightened them off it.

Maybe we should be on the lookout for some crazy developers that build streaming at the OS level, or near to it. Dropbox and other virtual distributed file systems are close enough to do something like that, constantly syncing in the background, and implementing a distributed model of sharing. Imagine if Dropbox supported plugins to provide the equivalent of Snapchat, or Facebook-like sharing of updates with friends, but where the user can define the visibility of interactions, not Facebook. And — if they want — users could opt to share some things in closed contexts, like private accounts on Twitter, and others in more open settings. People are after a spectrum of identity sharing, and Facebook just won’t go there.

Still on Facebook, but Finding Less to Like - Jenna Wortham -- NYTimes.com


Jenna Wortham is part of a growing trend: people who find that the Facebook social experience is waning in interest, partly because others are spending less time there, but also because they are migrating to messaging-based instead of profile-based apps:


Just a few years ago, most of my online social activity revolved around Facebook. I was an active member of several Facebook groups, including one that helped me and others find apartments and sell used items. Another group was wonderful for organizing midnight movie screenings. And I used Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest achievements of my sisters and their children, and the many members of my extended family.

But lately, my formerly hyperactive Facebook life has slowed to a crawl. I’ve found that most of my younger relatives have graduated from high school and have deleted their accounts or whittled them down until there is barely any personal information left. As for my own account, I rarely add photographs or post updates about what I’ve been doing. Often, the only interesting thing on the site is the latest Buzzfeed article that my friends are reading — and I can go directly to Buzzfeed for that.

Is it just me, or is Facebook fading?

The company has long denied that public interest in it may be waning — or that social upstarts may be luring away users. But this month, 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. Those teenagers, mostly American and likely around 13 or 14, weren’t deleting their accounts, he said, but they were checking the site less often.

The comment confirmed what many of us had suspected but were never able to prove — that the service had become less appealing for at least some of its users. And though Facebook is still the default social network for many people, perhaps it is no longer as crucial as it once was for social survival.


as it has become nearly universal, Facebook may have lost some of its edge — or, at the very least, it may no longer feel novel or original to some of its users. It’s possible that it has lost some of the cachet that made it appealing, especially for young users.

Many people have become much more wary of the longer-term implications of sharing on Facebook and on other social media. In recent months, it has become clear that seemingly harmless antics online can lead to serious repercussions in the real world.Young people may be particularly vulnerable.

Those cracks in Facebook’s veneer have provided a market opening for other messaging services among young people in the United States and worldwide. Mr. Sundar calls those services — which include WhatsApp, Line (popular in Japan), Snapchat, WeChat of China and the Korean service KakaoTalk — “mini social media,” because they satisfy one desire among teenagers: keeping in constant communication.

“That is an aspect of being a teen — they love chatting with their friends and they are always on their phones,” he said.

With the lightning speed at which social media is evolving, it is at least possible that Facebook is already entering a midlife crisis. Could we be approaching peak Facebook?

The answer is yes, but advertisers might find selling to 30-, 40- and 50-somethings ok for a while, but as Facebook starts to seem like the Sears of social networks the kids will be off finding the newest pop-up stores as far from the mall as possible.

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