Facebook is doomed to become the next Myspace

It has often been stated that throughout time, history has a funny way of repeating itself.

If this is in fact true, I would advise Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to make it among his top priorities to fully understand the demise of MySpace before his company shares the same fate.

According to a recent study by researchers at Princeton’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Facebook is expected to lose 80 percent of its users between 2015 and 2017. As improbable as this may sound now, if this prediction were to come true, it would not be the first time a social networking super power imploded to its demise.

I know it feels like a lifetime ago, but take a moment and think back to the year 2006: Justin Timberlake had just brought sexy back, Bill Gates announced his resignation as the CEO of Microsoft and social networking juggernaut MySpace was the most popular website in America. 

According to comScore, by June of 2007, MySpace had reached 114.147 million unique visitors and was by far the largest social networking site in the world. However, by 2008, the tides changed and MySpace began losing popularity as Facebook began to overtake MySpace as the most popular social networking site. 

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While Facebook is currently the unquestioned leader among social networking sites when it comes to its total number of users, MySpace taught us a valuable lesson. It showed us how vulnerable social networking sites are to unexpected and rapid decreases in followership.

To explain how this rapid decline in Facebook use would actually happen, some have compared Facebook to an infectious disease that society is slowly becoming immune to. 

Cute analogy aside, this is an excellent way of explaining how the psychology of social networks actually works. Think back to the early days of MySpace: it was new, it was exciting, but most importantly, it was cool. However, by 2008 when MySpace’s popularity started declining, it was due to the fact that it began losing the “cool factor” that made it a cultural phenomenon in the first place. 

Ironically, the way MySpace became less hip and trendy, was the same way it became cool in the first place — an absurd amount of people joined its network. As we can see now, through the MySpace example, there comes a turning point in the life cycle of every social networking site where the concept of “everyone’s doing it” goes from being your greatest sales pitch to encourage followership into one of your greatest obstacles to overcome — which is becoming too mainstream.

This “popularity tipping point” is precisely what Facebook is facing today as its popularity reaches its first plateau, similar to the way MySpace did before its inevitable demise.

Today we are beginning to see the first signs of Facebook’s popularity starting to dwindle as more and more people spend time using alternative social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Vine and Instagram. These particular social media outlets have fostered recent popularity due to their ability to reach niche audiences, not mass audiences.

Especially for younger audiences, Facebook’s trendiness is becoming depreciated due to the oversaturation of everyone and their brother becoming a Facebook user. In the individualistic society we live in, there is nothing unique or special about being a member of a social network that is home to over 1.4 billion people worldwide.

Not to mention the evolution of parents becoming more and more actively involved Facebook users has had profound effects. I don’t know about you, but I think having your mom be able to track your daily activities through Facebook does not seem terribly appealing.

The question isn’t will Facebook end up like MySpace, but when Facebook will end up like MySpace. If there is one thing we have learned throughout history it’s that nothing is meant to last forever — including Facebook.

Jed is a junior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected].

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that MySpace had reached 114,147 million users. The column should have stated that MySpace had reached 114.147 million unique visitors. The Daily Illini regrets the error.