Is the writing quite literally on the wall for MySpace? A few weeks ago, I signed-up for Facebook after receiving an invitation from a friend. I don’t usually go in for these social networking kind of things but I thought Facebook looked a bit more ‘grown-up’ than MySpace and gave it a go. Now, not a day goes by without a few invitations arriving in my inbox from friends I thought I’d lost contact with years ago. I’ve also been impressed by the overall usability and presentation of Facebook and the way it seamlessly links networks of friends together and communicate easily.
It seems I’m not alone either. In little more than 3 years, it has become the 17th most visited site in the world and hosts more photos (a staggering 8.5 million uploaded daily) than Flickr according to Wikipedia. One university in America reports that around 94% of it’s students now use Facebook as their primary mode of communication. A spokesman highlighted the extent to which Facebook is revolutionising communication at the university:
Facebook is essentially replacing a lot of the other ways that students communicate, including e-mails and instant messaging. I’ve had several faculty members say, if I really want to get something out (to students), I’ll post it on my Facebook (page) and hope they catch it, because they’re not checking their e-mails.
One interesting finding of the study was that students are turning away from MySpace because there are fewer spammers, stalkers and people abusing personal details. Facebook is considerably more secure because it uses security settings that let you decide exactly how much information the world can see.
What’s more, as we revealed a few weeks ago, Facebook just keeps getting bigger by virtue of the apps you can add-on to it. An example is the Facebook Watch app for Macs which allows users to keep an eye on what’s being written on their Facebook wall from their desktop. This is really useful if you don’t want to keep having to check your e-mail to see if someone has left you a message.
I would personally like to see Facebook used for more constructive purposes too though. One nice feature is the ability to create ‘clubs’ or ‘groups’ based on a topic of your choosing. However, at the moment it’s generally used for frivolous things such as ‘I like ginger beer’ group or the ‘I’ve driven a combine harvester’ group. Most notable is the ‘Enough with the Poking, Let’s Just Have Sex,’ group which, as of June 2007, has more than 200,000 members. The potential is ripe however for groups organized around topics of social concern such as the environment, racism and globalisation. Meetings and protests could be organized easily and articles of interest could be shared quickly.
Ok, maybe to some people all these things are possible via forums but the fact that Facebook already has 25 million users illustrates the awesome reach it has. Right, I’m off to poke someone.