Friday, April 08, 2016

Have Looser Connections Led to Less Sharing?

Facebook appears to be facing certain negative consequences of its vast size; in particular the increasing size of the networks of individual users.  Original sharing of personal stories -- rather than posts about public information like news articles -- dropped 21 percent year over year as of mid-2015, The Information, a tech news site, reported Wednesday. Facebook said in a statement that "the overall level of sharing has remained not only strong, but similar to levels in prior years."
People appear to be less willing to post updates about their lives as their list of friends grow to include individuals they are only loosely associated with.  Facebook is working hard to combat this decline in people sharing original, personal content, the fuel that helps power the money machine at the heart of its social network.
Rather than posting original content, Facebook’s 1.6 billion users are increasingly posting more news and information from other websites.  Many Facebook users  have more than ten years' worth of acquaintances added as friends. As a result, people may not always feel comfortable checking into a local bar or sharing an anecdote from their lives, knowing these updates may not be relevant to all their connections.  Data shows that personal sharing has shifted to smaller, more intimate audiences on Snapchat, Facebook’s Instagram and other messaging services.
Facebook, the same company that has given us the term "social graph" has given us a new term to describe this dropoff in original content: "context collapse."  Facebook has tried several tactics to encourage more of these posts, such as an "On This Day" feature launched last year that brings up memories from past years that users might want to talk about again, or reminders about special occasions like Mother’s Day. Facebook has also prompted users to post the most recent photos and other recently accessed content from their phones.  Sounds to me like trying to relive the glory days.
The company this week made another move to make it easier to post, introducing a live video tool that everyone on Facebook can use. Zuckerberg on Tuesday did a video address to Facebook users encouraging them to post live video of whatever they want, noting that even mundane activities like getting a haircut can be entertaining when they’re in the moment. More than five million people watched.  Call me crazy but watching someone get a haircut doesn't sound very entertaining.

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