Facebook: Our personal history books

 

How cool is social media, am I right? The millennial generation was the generation that adopted social media. We took these sites and made them our own. Since the mid 2000’s we’ve been adding content weekly and sharing our thoughts daily on social media. Facebook launched on February 4th, 2004. My personal Facebook was born on June 18th, 2009. That’s over seven years of memories. I’ve contemplated deleting my Facebook a couple of times. I first thought about it after noticing the awkward transformation of my timeline. It felt like photos of friends and family turned into Buzzfeed articles and wanna be viral videos, overnight.                         Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 10.40.27 PM.png

But I didn’t do it. After looking through my profile I was nostalgically overwhelmed. I didn’t want to lose all of the memories that summarized the last seven years of my life. I knew that I could reinstate my profile with just a few clicks, but I was fearful of missing out on picture tags and photo albums. I like that Facebook serves as a running history book. It lets my friends glance into my life, but more importantly, it helps me remember some of the times that I otherwise would have forgotten.

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If we continue to add content at the current rate, our Facebook pages could have a lifetime of memories in a few decades. I think that this is where the value of Facebook is rooted. Our Facebook pages are personal digital photo albums. The content that surfaces on our timeline can be entertaining, but it doesn’t maintain switching costs for users.

According to an SEC document that surfaced around the time of Facebook’s IPO, “On average more than 250 million photos per day were uploaded to Facebook in the three months ended December 31, 2011″ (That’s around 7.5 Billion per month). These numbers are undisputedly higher today, as Facebook’s monthly active users have risen from 850 million to 1.71 billion since 2011.  In 2013 Facebook revealed that users have uploaded over 250 billion photos.

Here is a quick snapshot of Facebook in 2011.

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(Here is list of other cool Facebook statistics)

All of this data has given Facebook seemingly unquantifiable switching costs. According to the Wall Street Journal, in the first quarter of 2016 the company made over $5 billion in advertising revenue. They are expected to grab about 12% of the global digital-advertising revenue this year, a market that totals around $186.8 Billion. To give you some contrast, Google is expected to get around 31% of this same market.

So my question is this: Is Facebook’s long-term goal to keep us connected with friends, circulate entertaining content, or to serve as our personal history books?

The site is by far the largest social media network in the world, with over 1.7 Billion daily active users. This number drives their ad business. Without active daily users the value of their advertisement spaces decreases dramatically.

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However, I think the company has a unique opportunity to capitalize on the substantial collection of photos and videos that it hosts. In a couple more years the majority of American millennials will have been on Facebook for around a decade. Never before has a generation of people had such a centralized and expansive collection of memories. The last ten years of each of our lives will be captured and stored on Facebook. Although we own these photos, Facebook reserves the right to use the content that we post. Unless we specify otherwise.

I wonder what Facebook can do with all of these memories.

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6 comments

  1. I find the point about Facebook being our personal photo history pretty interesting. There are so many other alternatives such as Google Photo and Instagram now that could play a similar role as you describe in saving photos. Probably the biggest advantage Facebook has is the network and connections. You can be tagged in photos and those will be kept on your profile as well. The only issue I see is the degrading of photo quality Facebook has on your photos versus other cloud based services such as Google Photo or Flickr that will keep the quality that photo junkies love. Overall very great post!

  2. francoismba · ·

    It still amazes me that people are willing to share so much information about themselves. I too have a collection of photos on Facebook dating back to 2005. I have to admit that I enjoy scrolling through old photos that remind me of certain memories and events. However, i never take the time to utilize Facebook’s “Friendiversary” movies which may be due to the fact that I rarely post photos anymore. Facebook continues to tweak and implement new features in the hopes of keeping users engaged. Personally, I think younger users are moving away from using Facebook and becoming more active users of Snapchat and Instagram. Do you think Facebook users’ photo collection is enough to keep people from deleting their Facebook account?

  3. What’s really fascinating is the role that FB will actually play in history. Now when someone becomes famous, you’ll be able to scroll back through their lives and learn about their influences and thoughts before that happened. Going forward, history is really going to be a data mining exercise.

  4. holdthemayo4653 · ·

    Facebook has such an interesting role in our lives. I was lucky enough for Facebook to start adding photos only late in my college career, thank goodness that all my freshman year antics were not immortalized on online. It serves as an amazing photo album to help keep a permanent record of our lives. Last week I was thinking back to what I would lose if my apartment burned down as an apartment a block away suffered a massive fire. In the past, people have been devastated by the loss of memories but I realized that the majority of my recent memories were on Facebook. As other repliers have pointed out, people are using Facebook less and less for pictures due to instagram and snap chat. As we transition to different applications I wonder if someone will find a way to import all our photos onto one application.

  5. kdphilippi18 · ·

    The amount of information and pictures stored on Facebook is staggering! I too have considered deleting my Facebook account, but I have build up such a history of photos and memories on the platform that I hesitate to loose it all. I believe these switching costs will continue to drive many users to stay on the platform even though it is less popular with younger generations. Since most millennials started their accounts in high school, it would be difficult to rebuild the large network of almost 10 years of connections. While I can’t exactly predict what Facebook will do in the future, I am pretty certain that it will continue to evolve its capabilities by creatively using all of this data in a highly personalized way to keep its users more engaged.

  6. Great post and agree with the commenters. I think the fact that Facebook is bringing old photos to the top of the feed through”memories, “friendiversaries, etc. already shows that they are trying to tap into the possibilities of being about more than the current events in your life. In an era where we don’t really print photos as often, it makes sense for social networks to take over the role of the traditional printed photo album.

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