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With privacy concerns escalating and new players entering the space, is it the beginning of the end for Facebook?

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I’m just sayin
Listen, the mighty behemoth that is Facebook is probably doing just fine. They’ve got us sucked in like lemmings, with upwards of 500 million people on the service checking email, uploading photos, finding old friends, and tending virtual farms.

But it’s been a rough month, and I’m sure young Mark Zuckerberg has aged a little as his company has been tossed about in full public view recently. I’m not saying he’s going to have a few gray hairs, after all, he did just turn 26 on May 14. But maybe he feels like a 29 year old or something.

On Wired alone, the stories have been flowing, showing the progression of events:

Report: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Believe In Privacy
Today Facebook, Tomorrow the World
Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative
Privacy Flare-Up Prompts Facebook Meetings with Congress, Employees
Facebook to Launch ‘Simplistic’ Privacy Choices Soon
NYU Students Aim to Invent Facebook

Could this be the beginning of the end? Consider…

7 reasons why the mighty giant might fail


1) We’re full
I don’t know why those two words came to mind, but I liken it to the best party you’ve ever been at. Whether it be your high school prom, a great fraternity party in college, or seeing a great band. Everyone you know is there. Everyone is having a great time. But no matter how good something is, after awhile, people are going to say, you know, lets get out of here and check out something else.

As an early adopter that has been on Facebook for years, it’s been a great tool for me to connect with others, share and discuss content, and find old friends. But I feel I’m starting to get diminishing returns from my network. No longer is a former close friend finding me on Facebook, it’s distant friends of high school friends that I may not want to speak with.

Is it possible that the early adopters that are the first to jump into a new trend, are also the first ones to jump out of a new trend? Yes it is.

2) It’s a technology product
OK, I know it’s an internet site and not an old cell phone or DVD player. But if you think back at all of the websites that existed, say, during the dotcom era, it’s easy to think of the big boys that are still around — Amazon, ESPN, E*Trade, eBay — but there are many that don’t make it. Did we think that MySpace or Friendster would stand the test of time? We probably did at their height.

3) Privacy
You only have to read some of the stories above to know that privacy is a huge, huge concern. They were able to fly under the radar for awhile, with only minor grumblings from informed users as their intricate policies were continually updated. But now the government got involved, the New York Times did a report, and people are scared. They’re also confused. And for many people, when things get too complicated, they don’t try to figure it out, they just leave.

4) Arrogance
Is it easy to get cocky when you’re #1 and every analytics indicator is going through the roof? For sure. I think the symbolic move was changing the term from “fan” to “like” on branded business pages. I don’t mind it around content or activities, but show me one person that thinks “I’ve chosen to like the Wired Facebook page” is better than “I’m a fan of Wired.”

Every single interaction around that term is flawed. Day in and day out I get asked “How many fans does Wired/GQ/Ars Technica have on Facebook?” How do you easily translate that question now? How many likes does GQ have? How many people like GQ? Arrogance.

5) Revenue for Facebook
If they’re supposedly making millions of dollars in revenue now, why am I still seeing horrible banners ads that have nothing to do with me? I’m pretty sure I’m not going to make 126% return on investment like the little tiny banner told me I would. But I definitely know where to look when I’m ready to start exclusively dating single moms.

6) Revenue for brands
Yes, there are hundreds of stories of brands “engaging” with their users. And a content company like Conde Nast can drive people from Facebook to their websites, where we get paid to serve ads and sell magazine subscriptions. But I’d like to see some more examples of companies bringing in cold hard cash from Facebook.

7) We’re done
The privacy backlash is one thing, but what about a social media backlash? It’s been several years now that the early adopters have been constantly tweeting, blogging, updating, posting, uploading, and checking in. Very slowly, stories are trickling out about people getting off the carousel. Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand.com did a great post that showed that “How do I delete my Facebook account” was a growing trend.

You know how you look up from your computer at work, look at the clock and it’s 6:10, you exhale, push your chair away from the desk, and just say “I’m done.” You shut down the computer, everything goes black, and you simply walk away for the day? I have to wonder, is the time approaching that people are going to do that from social media — permanently.

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