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History is against Facebook

History is against Facebook

Half billion member mark beckons, but history teaches us that big businesses can have a limited lifespan, especially in the online world, says Sam Potter.

May 20, 2010 2:11 by

There’s an old saying that, if taken over a long enough time frame, proves true for almost all companies: what goes up, must come down.

Most companies are built upon principles of growth – the most successful tend to be the fastest growing. But when the meteoric rise begins to slow, that old adage comes knocking with grim inevitability.

In the online sphere you could ask MySpace. What used to be the pre-eminent social networking site, bought for $580 million by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. in July 2005, has been losing ground to Facebook for years.

Facebook, that started as a student networking service, has grown into the social network. Its exponential growth is about to see it break through the half billion barrier.

But could the cracks be beginning to show in Facebook’s invincible façade? Will the social giant one day find that what goes up, must come down? A number of recent incidents lead me to believe that we could be nearing a turning point.

In Australia, the tragic case of a teen girl apparently killed by a friend she met on Facebook has prompted the police to advise Facebook users to remove pictures from their profile page.

An event such as this should perhaps cause us to pause, and remember an important fact: Social networks are a relatively new phenomenon, and the full consequences of this trend have yet to become clear for societies in the real world.

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