Why Facebook is doomed to eventual irrelevance
Facebook is currently a dominate technology company, there are signs, however, that they may have peaked and that they will eventually slide into irrelevance, similar to what happened to MySpace, Yahoo and other former tech giants. Getting into the failures of these past tech giants isn't necessarily relevant today, so instead, let's focus on how Facebook compares to Google, as this is a comparison that is often made. The reality appears to be that the two companies, while both highly successful, have almost nothing in common and have entirely different business models and relationships with their users.
Facebook relies heavily on gamification tactics to essentially train their user-base to constantly check the Facebook app for notification updates. It is probable that they make extensive use of machine learning to determine exactly when to show notification updates to users and how to best keep a constant stream of notifications flowing to a user so that they feel the need to constantly check Facebook. It can be fairly well assured that every action a user takes on Facebook is scrutinized by their machine learning algorithms to determine exactly how to spur future interactions. The end goal of this appears to be to consume as much of the user's time as possible as this would naturally lead to more ad revenue for Facebook.
Using machine learning for analyzing user actions is nothing new and is not at all unusual among technology companies. In and of itself, it is not bad and Facebook's use of machine learning does not make them a "bad" or "evil" company. What it does do, however, is make it's users prone to burnout and regret, at times, for using Facebook too much. If you are a heavy Facebook user, try uninstalling the app from your phone for a week and see how many times you start the action of tapping what would have been the Facebook icon. Most likely this will occur a number of times until you adjust to "life without Facebook" because they have trained you to seek out these short interactions with their application. The reality is that you probably don't have any specific goal in mind when you click the Facebook icon, it is just something you are doing because you are bored or under-stimulated at the moment. Again, Facebook is not at all alone in this approach, however, they are the most successful company that has used this approach.
Contrast this to the experience that you have with Google products. Do you ever just open a search engine browser the way you would the Facebook app? No, you open it when you have a goal in mind and want to accomplish something, as you want to search for a topic and find relevant results and then move on with your life. Google search is primarily focused on providing you with a high quality experience and letting you then move on with your life by visiting the website.
Facebook and Google search both make their revenue from advertising, companies pay to run ads on both platforms, however, there is another dimension to Google search that is entirely lacking from Facebook. Google actually provides a way for businesses to make money, for free. Yes, if you have high quality content, and a decent SEO strategy, you can literally never have any formal interaction or relationship with Google and they will still send you traffic. Yes, in theory this is possible with Facebook, as you can get traffic from Facebook posts, however, you have to keep in mind that a Facebook post that links to an external website is competing with other Facebook posts that keep the user entirely within Facebook's walled garden, so you can bet that Facebook's machine learning algorithms are going to ensure that any content that resides entirely within that walled garden is going to be given a more than fair chance to show up in a user's feed.
This leads into a comparison of how another Google-owned product, YouTube, compares to Facebook. YouTube is a vast entrepreneurial ecosystem. It has made millionaires, just check into how much money some of the top YouTubers earn and you may be shocked. For all its flaws, YouTube is a powerful engine driven by its creators. Google views these creators as partners and pays out them based on the ad revenue that their videos generate. Facebook? Well, they don't pay anyone for creating content. Nope, they take all the revenue. Also, it's a widely reported problem that many YouTube videos end up on Facebook with Facebook essentially illegally profiting of content they do not have the rights to.
What would Facebook be without its user-base? Absolutely nothing, they are 100% reliant on user created content yet they do not share one cent of this revenue with these creators. Instead of taking an approach like YouTube, where they view their content creators as partners, they have used machine learning techniques to figure how to make use of contributions from a wider audience to where no one contributor has too much clout in the ecosystem. If a few of the biggest YouTubers walked away from YouTube it would likely cause a substantial revenue hit. With Facebook, this appears to not be the case and is part of their genius.
It may make you uncomfortable, however, to think that every picture you post, every video you post, every memory you share on Facebook is helping to make the company richer. It may just make you want to delete all your Facebook content, however, that obviously isn't for everyone. The company is already very far down this path and they are not at all diversified in their approach to earning revenue. If people stopped posting today the company would die very quickly. While obviously that is not going to happen overnight, it does beg the question as to what exactly is the future of this company and why they have decided to go all in with this business model.