But who stays on Facebook? Profile of the latest users of the first social network | icon

If you ask a few people still active in Facebook what they like on this platform, a common element will cross all the answers: faced with the oversaturated and frenetic image of ICT Tacto the fury of Twitter and the almost autoparodic aesthetic of instagram, Facebook is always a relaxed place to chat with friends. The usual bar, the stretcher table. “From Facebook, I appreciate the space to write, the positive attitude towards calm reading and the minor, although not non-existent, virulence,” says Sergio, 42. “Facebook is a peaceful retirement home where we can discuss our affairs. Sometimes it gets a bit messy, like the monitor just came from water aerobics. It’s like using a jukebox, smoking a pipe or riding in a stagecoach. Sometimes I think we’re missing something, and I like that.”

Carlos, 41, appeals to the collective: “Most of my friends have Facebook and consult it, so what I want to share with those around me they will see it. I have become less of an exhibitionist in my daily life and, as if I were an artist clandestinelyI do not aspire for my things to go further”. Raquel, 42, believes that “the best thing about Facebook is choosing who I read and when and above all that people don’t come across me by chance. I have more or less control over those who are there, I judge them and they judge me with a little more context. Instagram saturates me quickly because I am more verbal than visual. I’m more interested in people who analyze than those who just show”. “I am delighted on Facebook with my old obsessions, without fanfare, a little secure and with this function so relevant for the forgetful that is memory. [Facebook ofrece cada día a sus usuarios mensajes o fotografías que compartieron en esa misma fecha en años anteriores] they are like bottles with messages brought back to shore,” says Álvaro, 45. “Being here in an apocalyptic time is the closest thing (virtually) to being in Claire’s house in Melancholy”.

In other words, Facebook is not made for exhibitionism, nor for chatting with strangers, nor for knowing the latest news, nor for discovering new trends. What’s the use then? “For old timers,” an 11-year-old boy said in response to an internal company inquiry, documents show. obtained by The Wall Street Journal there collected in an analysis of The New York Times. These same documents revealed that Facebook had been losing young users in the United States for years (not what Facebook contained in the data provided to its investors: The company claims that with 1.97 billion unique users every day, the figure increased by 1% compared to the previous year, but their age ranges are not provided).

Nice interface, I stay!

Facebook has become a boat that many have never got off, having jumped from one to another for years; it was the definitive settlement of a generation that had grown up believing in the very concept of social networking. The first experience in this direction for this whole millennial generation was this protoinstagram called Fotologafter My space and finally Facebook, a difficult place to understand until everyone signed up: it turned out to be a great party where you can see and be seen, where you can start conversations and share common tastes. Facebook has managed to become a giant, so much so that it has become the gateway to the Internet: a digital cover letter, the place where the media should be to be read and get traffic redirected to their sites website. The door to the world. Nothing less.

in front of the single
Faced with simple “likes” from Twitter or Instagram, Facebook’s reactions can be of love, empathy, indignation, sadness or laughter.3d_angle (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Google tried to compete by creating its own image-and-like social networks, first Google Wave and after Google+, both have already disappeared (respectively in 2010 and 2018). Facebook has simply become something ubiquitous and familiar enough that the few generations who grew up with it settle there, find a comfortable digital environment and, now in their thirties, show no interest in starting from scratch on platforms like Instagram (than Facebook bought in 2012 for 765 million euros) or TikTok (which Instagram, according to millions of upset users, trying to imitate lately with very little concealment). Facebook may be a place with an aging population today, but it’s far from becoming the ghost town that MySpace once was.

“Facebook’s architecture hasn’t changed for two decades,” says Geert Lovink, researcher at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and director and founder of the Institute of Network Culturesas one of the possible causes of this loyalty of a certain type of public towards the social network of Mark Zuckerberg. “The idea was, and still is in a way, that of a so-called social network freefor friends and where are the others guests to participate in your wall, such as news media, businesses, advertisers and other topics advised”. The italics are his.

Lovink shares the feeling of an exodus of young people in recent years and stresses that the shadow of suspicion hanging over Mark Zuckerberg helped drive people away from Facebook. “There’s massive awareness now of how Facebook works compared to five years ago, and that’s exploded among the older generations as well. Young people went to Instagram years ago, then to TikTok, but platforms like Signal or Telegram have also worked for them as an alternative to WhatsApp [también propiedad de Facebook tras pagar 13.800 millones de euros en 2014]. At best, young people are forced to use Facebook occasionally as part of their digital identity [para loguearse de forma rápida y sencilla en otras webs y plataformas] or to have contacts with certain official worlds, such as family, school or possible professions. It’s the same as your Google accounts, which you need to access YouTube.”

Mark Zuckerberg at his desk
Mark Zuckerberg at his deskFacebook

However, Lovink sees an additional reason why so many of us stay on Facebook even though we use it less frequently. “Many don’t know how to phase out their presence there. In the past, social networks simply disappeared, as was the case with MySpace, Friendster, Orkut, Sonic or Fotolog. But the blocking effect of the current monopoly has made it nearly impossible for billions of users to delete their accounts and simply move on.” Some have. Joël, a 32-year-old Portuguese photographer, made his decision after a breakup.” I had tons of photos and a lot of my life shared on Facebook. When I finished this stage, I didn’t want it to continue there. I could have just stopped logging into Facebook, but I didn’t want to leave such a big digital mark.”

A life in data

Erase this trace is not so easy. Joel was compelled to find a tutorial to get it right and recalls the process being “confusing”. That was in 2020. Currently, in an attempt at corporate transparency and simplicity after several scandals in a row during Trump’s tenure fake news, the Russian conspiracy, the cambridge analytics case or suspicions of oligopoly), Facebook offers clearer instructions to its users on their own privacy and also on how to make their profile disappear forever. This, yes, precise“We may retain copies of your information for 90 days in the backup storage we use so that we can recover it in the event of a disaster, error of Software or other possible events that result in data loss. We may also store your information for certain purposes, such as legal matters, breach of terms, or prevention of damage.

Others think, precisely, of this amount of information and memories dumped on the platform when it comes to not deleting their profile there. The whole of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp holds too many precious memories for some, it’s a kind of personal album and life diary that they don’t want to stop having. “I would be very sad to lose all that,” says Raquel, 39. “Of course, I go in and I participate less than before on Facebook because there are fewer people. We always stayed four, but these same people write less and less, so it’s the whiting that bites its tail : I participate less because there are fewer people and I imagine there are fewer people for the same reason. This is what is called in the business world the network effect : when the quality and usefulness of a product depends on the number of people who use it. Facebook, as a platform that taught the world what user-generated content was (with it we became , for the first time in history, consumers and producers at the same time), is a good example of a product damaged by the network effect. It will attract fewer people if we all stop participating. Chartbeat, traffic measurement platform , informed a constant loss of Internet users redirected from Facebook since 2021.

But in the meantime, the platform is a quiet place and its followers are very loyal. Its very nature as a stretcher table creates debates that are probably impossible in other networks more focused on speed and image that have come to influence literary works. Alberto Mira, professor of film studies at Oxford Brookes University and author of the essay Chronicle of a future (2021), explains: “Facebook works for me like a diary and a laboratory of ideas. In my last books, which had a personal element, I liked to test it and the truth is that it helped me to refine my ideas. Of course, the introduction to Chronicle of a future It wouldn’t have been the same if people hadn’t told me ‘well, I don’t see it that way’ and forced me to explain myself differently”. These interactions would likely have been a simple insult on Twitter, a brief reaction video on TikTok, and an impersonal heart on Instagram. On Facebook, people keep talking, arguing and changing their minds. In the middle of 2022, it’s more radical than any dance.

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