Has Facebook won your heart? I mean, could you actually live without it? I don’t mean to say that there aren’t other great social networking options out there. But if you had to stop using Facebook, which of these alternative social networking sites would you use? While the changes made to Facebook’s privacy standards are vast and highly debatable, users are sticking around. Why? It may be because they feel they have to.
Having become one of the most widely used social networks in the U.S., Facebook reaches across every state and many demographic fields. With social networking users abandoning the likes of MySpace, and Twitter unable to achieve the same retention rate that Facebook has, Facebook is dominating the social media scene on many levels.
Now that Facebook has our attention, it is increasingly difficult to turn away from the all-encompassing network. From games to status updates, we frequent the Facebook site and mobile app to stay connected with friends and foster new relationships. “Spying” on friends is a favorite pastime, with casual gaming apps all but taking over our time spent on the site.
Facebook is shiny and familiar. The social network is becoming more integral to our daily lives, connecting us with many of the things we love about socializing over the web. And even if we should pull away from the behemoth of a social network, it would be very difficult to just unplug.
Such is the case with college senior Alyssa Ravasio, who admits that Facebook has become an essential part of her life, reports Reuters. The fact of the matter is, this has become the case for many of Facebook’s users. The idea of a technological lock-in means that the more a culture adopts a certain type of technology, they are unlikely to break away from it.
In other words, Facebook is becoming the standard, far and away. This has long been the goal for Facebook, as it sought to establish its app developer platform and be at the forefront of establishing privacy standards for the social web.
Now, however, it appears as though Facebook is stepping away from those standards, having drastically changed its privacy settings to become more public by default. While there doesn’t appear to be a major direct backlash from Facebook’s user base, many experts are concerned with the future of social networking privacy should Facebook continue to open up its database.
Is this indicative of what we’re to expect from Facebook from here on? After gaining our trust and convincing us to pledge our allegiance, is Facebook taking advantage of its far-reaching penetration in our culture to switch up the rules of the game?
That would be a very loaded statement to make, but even if Facebook were to do so, the consumers will always retain a high level of control over the situation. Seeking an actual alternative to Facebook would be a readily adopted occurrence, even if the days of destination social networks are over.
With platforms such as those launched by Twitter, Google and Microsoft waiting in the wings, any major missteps by Facebook could lead to some form of exodus. In some ways, it would be easier to reconnect with Facebook friends on a different network, as many allow you to register with existing user names and find friends based on email addresses and other network connections.
Interestingly enough, Facebook has already positioned itself to be one of the largest providers of such data. That is why it is, to some degree, making more of its users’ information less private.
Twitter’s platform, which supports a number of apps for performing various and specific Twitter-related activities, is working towards a similar goal. Twitter, however, has less of a regulated approach to its platform and can therefore not offer as unified of a web service as Facebook has been able to do.
In the end, the trust factor is terribly important for Facebook and other platforms at this time. Consumers have come a long way towards adopting current standards around sharing personal information within online social media environments, though there is still ample opportunity for a major backlash that could affect the entire industry.