Perhaps I’m a bit biased, but I love this recent article by Jeff Stibel that was written for the Harvard Business Review blog. Entitled “The Logic Behind Facebook’s Recent Moves,” the post analyzes–among other things– Facebook’s recent purchase of WhatsApp using a concept he calls the “breakpoint,” the central idea in his book of the same name.
There’s been some speculation that Facebook usage is declining, a point which Jeff doesn’t necessarily agree with– he argues that Facebook has simply reached its “breakpoint.” A breakpoint is where “the size of a network increases rapidly to a certain point and then either levels out or declines sharply.” Perhaps because of his background in brain science, he compares Facebook to a giant brain, a sprawling network of interconnected information that grows and grows until– thud, it hits a wall and can’t grow anymore. While physical factors limit the growth of the brain, the utility of Facebook is what limits its growth.
To put it simply, Facebook is not as useable as it used to be. With so many people on the network, there’s just too much information. It’s become difficult to connect with only the people you want to connect with and only see the information you want to see. I definitely think social media has become too cluttered, too stuffy, to full of stuff no one cares about, and that we need to rethink the way we use social media. Jeff thinks Facebook has reached its breakpoint and needs to make some changes to recover.
That’s why Facebook is spending an astounding $19 billion on what Jeff calls the “ruthlessly simple” WhatsApp– mobile applications are simpler, less overloaded with info, and a bit less stressful than their desktop counterparts. The goal is to de-clutter the user experience and allow Facebook to become more user-friendly again.
I’ll be watching what happens to Facebook as younger users flock towards social media outlets like Instagram and Twitter. For now, an estimated 1.23 billion people are still using the (in?)famous social networking site (including me), so I guess I’ll go look at my grandma’s album of cat photos and dream of the day where I will never get another Candy Crush invitation again.
Photo credit: melenita2012, Flickr