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Facebook Use Has Been Dropping Since the 2016 Election, According to SimilarWeb (nwn.blogs.com)
370 points by Kroeler 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 188 comments

I don't know if it's algorithmic, or if most of my close friends just hardly use facebook anymore, but it seems like I just rarely see anything anymore in my feed anymore that I care about. It also seems weird that what does appear is generally from people I'm very faint acquaintances with -- if I am curious about one of my actual friends I pretty much have to go straight to their profile.

Besides that though, I think it just encourages behaviors I don't really enjoy seeing in my friends. I definitely know people who in real-life are totally cool, but their social media presence makes me question why I ever liked them in the first place. Mostly I see a lot of:

1) very overt attention seeking for pretty lame things (like, pretty girls posting selfies of themselves doing nothing interesting, or dudes with gym photos, that kind of thing) 2) Extremely broad and poorly thought out political rants 3) sharing really vapid motivational quotes 4) people being maybe a little too vulnerable to a very broad audience, to the point where it's awkward. 5) This one is the worst of all. People taking passive aggressive swipes at individuals by posting very vague status updates. I hate stuff like that.

I don't think of myself as a super judgmental person, but whenever I get on facebook I spend half my time just thinking "really?" and then feeling kind of gross.

Facebook was a lot more fun when there was a chronological timeline of non-rich-text status updates and comments from friends. These days it's all semi-spam from pages and random week-old friend's FB activities being surfaced in a poorly targeted fashion. I know there are interesting posts by people on my friend list but they're simply being hidden. Maybe some fb developer was happy with increased engagement metrics merely caused by confused users forever scrolling up and down in desperate attempts to find out where all their friends whose posts used to show up have gone.

And when actual friends' posts show up, 90% of the time it's a like or a share of some uninspiring web page's article with no comment.

It's like it's become digg.com curated by your non-techie acquaintances, with a bonus ORDER BY RANDOM() thrown in for good measure.

Also their stupid push to make each single-line shitpost bigger and flashier and more impactful has driven the information density way down.

It was bad enough when people started posting pictures of text instead of just posting the text. Now they're posting videos of static text. What's next, immersive VR full sensory presentation to convey "its weekend party yay lol :D :D:D:D:D" posts?

It's like flashy banner ads from the 90s back again that people jumped to for grabbing attention. At that time it was ads, now it's people posting their thoughts in this fashion. Since Facebook provides these backgrounds only up to a certain message character length limit, many people curate their messages just so it would fit with these flashy backgrounds.

And because these posts with the backgrounds get larger font sizes compared to normal posts, to get attention in a voluminous group one must play the same dirty game. They're literally dragging people into the dirt pit.

Hope they don't introduce animation in these gaudy backgrounds!!!

Why not just give some font controls instead and remove all this background nonsense?! (Though this could also be argued to be terrible)

One day everyone will look back at these stunts and see them for the ugliness and abomination they are, just like we look back at banner ads with derision and hate.

Wasn't the main selling point of Facebook originally that you couldn't do flashing animated geocities crap? I remember that being the reason I signed up, most of my HS friends had no business doing web design. Once they opened it up beyond ivy-league, it didn't seem to have any particular status, having a Gmail account was arguably harder (I had to get lucky getting an invite off /.).

I remember, around 2007, when facebook had started to be made more generally available outside of colleges in the US, that it seemed like a cleaner, easier, less cluttered version of MySpace. Sadly that version of the site is long since dead.

MySpace was often an assault on the senses, and disorienting. Reddit can be like that these days, perhaps worse since the interface elements also love around and can disappear. In the early days of FB, users had even less ability to customize the visual presentation of their pages than they do now. It’s about like the simplicity of HN vs a 10 highly customized subs on reddit - on one hand, users like to express their personalities. On the other, inconsistency can make for a terrible user experience.

(Sorry about the typos)


# ppl like flashy stuff # #################

Its becoming MySpace....

I actually don't think that's necessarily fair on MySpace. With facebook it's so low effort to post or share some garish random crap to your timeline that everyone (or at least most people) are doing it all the time. With MySpace, like Geocities, at least you had to put in a bit more effort. The results weren't necessarily better but the volume of crap was simply lower due to most people being too lazy to post it.

> What's next, immersive VR full sensory presentation to convey "its weekend party yay lol :D :D:D:D:D" posts?

You joke, but they bought Oculus for a reason.

Ready Player One was a warning, not a manual!

I think the idea was to let single line shitposts compete with all the other shitposts, but they went the wrong direction. Should've made the media shitposts sized down to the text posts.

I assume big media pieces are where the advertising money is.

And video. You can tell every ad buy sells video at many times a text ad because google and Facebook are pushing them everywhere they can.

> Now they're posting videos of static text.

The English Football Association has used a 2-minute Twitter video in order to announce the list of 23 players who made it to the World Cup (https://twitter.com/England/status/996737073418784770). I personally hate this trend.

While I do understand your hate, and while I personally hate the problem of using video instead of text, I gotta say that this specific example you've mentioned can be blamed to the limitations of the platform (Twitter).

Their alternatives were:

1. Interrupt people's flow by getting them off of Twitter. 2. Try fitting them all in one tweet (impossible). 3. Try fitting them in multiple tweets, which would make the users retweet a specific tweet that contains whichever player they're interested in, and their followers wouldn't see the entire roster.

I can see the appeal of transmitting the info in a 2 minute video since it gives users one tweet they should retweet, and transfers the important message in a relatively short amount of time (albeit much longer than skimming through a block of text).

It fits easily into a 280-char tweet, with plenty of space left over for a link or explanations - the below is 160 bytes give or take:

Pickford Butland Pope

TAA Trippier Rose Maguire Jones Stones Walker Cahill

Henderson Dier Alli Lingard Young Delph RLC

Sterling Vardy Kane Rashford Welbeck

I don't see how option 1 (link to outside twitter) interrupts my flow more than a 2-minute video

> a 2-minute Twitter video

The moment you (meaning they) even combine these words you've missed the point of Twitter.

> These days it's all semi-spam from pages and random week-old friend's FB activities being surfaced in a poorly targeted fashion

I think putting the spam on facebook on equal footing with its post targeting as to why people aren't using facebook is wrong. I have hundreds of friends and tens of pages on FB, which I'll admit by FB's standards isn't all that much, yet I still find it much harder to browse than other sites with many times the content. Most people simply don't post that often or not at all, and the pages I joined don't post often either.

Despite how little content there is I find the issue of managing it all completely intractable. When I'm on Feedly I go through hundreds of posts worth of content in a few minutes by mashing the j key until I find content I want to read later, save it and then spend maybe 2 hours a week going through content I care about. When I'm on Twitter I skim until I see familiar content and pick out the stuff I care about. When I'm on reddit, I know it takes about 48 hours for my feed to "refresh" so I'll spend some time every other day skimming from top to bottom.

I can't even begin to figure out a workflow for finding content on Facebook. The whole thing is laid out so quickly finding the things I care about is impossible. I can scroll past ten posts I've seen before something new pops up so I have no idea when to stop scrolling. There's no concept of a "read" post and unlike reddit the "hide" button, hidden behind a menu, acts like a downvote. I have no way of creating a single stream of just the things I care about, and if I did there's no way to update myself when things change. Unlike youtube, there's no RSS feeds so I can't just do my browsing from Feedly. Even just getting a feed of my events is impossible since FB has the audacity to suggest events from pages I've never interacted with, have no friends going and thinks those are more important to me than the events created by pages I actually follow. Push notifications are insanely coursely-grained (or at least they do a good job hiding the interface). Cambridge Analytica be damned, the reason I don't use FB is because I can't figure out how. My age, income level and computer-addicted brain should make me prime meat for advertisers, yet I change the oil more often than login to FB simply because the algorithms that generate my feeds are just that bad.

“Tractable” is another way to say “I can finish what I came to the site to do, and then leave.” Of course they don’t want that! ;)

Snapchat has mostly replaced Facebook for my friends that like just sharing fun updates. I think it's a combination of the ease of sharing spur-of-the-moment updates, and the difficulty of using it for anything but that (e.g. political rants). I still use Facebook, but almost expressly to follow specific groups, friends who post typically about specific topics, or to ask/answer questions within my friend group.

I have zero idea how people are using snapchat. Even as a programmer, I find their UX extremely hard to understand, enjoy and use. It's the shittiest app that is on my phone and I have opened it only twice in a year.

you use it to signal that you’re paying attention to someone in a relatively passive/casual way via read receipts on one-to-many picture messages. it’s mostly useful for groups of friends, and (critically) interacting with someone you’re romantically or sexually interested in with plausible deniability.

the ui i won’t bother to defend though.

> It's like it's become digg.com curated by your non-techie acquaintances, with a bonus ORDER BY RANDOM() thrown in for good measure.

I don't think I've read a more accurate description of anything in a long time... Thanks for putting my feelings on Facebook into words!

> These days it's all semi-spam from pages and random week-old friend's FB activities being surfaced in a poorly targeted fashion.

The last thing I care about is that my friend's aunt comment on a thread from October 2016, but for some reason Facebook thinks that needs the #2 slot on my feed.

My experience is exactly the same. Looks like fb has failed it big time on mobile. Is there a method to their madness? I’d really like to know. Twitter is not a replacement as it’s totally public but it’s much more fun right now exactly for the lack of that silly algorithmic selection of posts.

So... like twitter then?

Nah, my Twitter feed is curated by people I actually like but are complete strangers to me, with the odd speaker-I-met-once-at-a-meetup thrown in.

As the saying goes, Twitter is where you connect with the people you wish you knew, and facebook is where you connect with the people you wish you didn't.

twitter also has an annoying algorithm that thinks it knows what you really want to see. chronological newsfeeds are dearly missed.

I usually just reload the page a couple of times and tweets are put in chronological order again. Does this work only because I follow <100 people?

Twitter is falling in to same prey... About 30% of the tweets I see are what other people retweeted and liked. Just show me their own tweets damn it!

My favorite social network is the one I have on Goodreads. I love to see what my friends (who are readers) are reading. I also have found a bunch of people whose book tastes are similar to mine. Everyone is interested in the same goal: finding and reading good books.

When someone overshares, or gets soapboxy, or just spammy, I just unfriend. I did this with my sister! That's something I'd never do on Facebook.

I've also enjoyed Goodreads. It's almost a mirror image of FB in a sense: in Facebook, your friends often appear dumber than in real life. In Goodreads, only their reading is visible and that might make them appear smarter than you thought :)

But how does one even overshare on Goodreads when all the updates are about book reads or picks to to-read? In the comments?

Or the reviews.

If somebody is reviewing books I have zero interest in (eg: super partisan politics, superhero comic books) then I'm likely to unfriend them on Goodreads.

One of my middle-aged male friends was really into Young Adult romances. Like two books a week. I had to let him go.

I hope you realize most people on facebook are not there to find intellectual content. These are the same set of people who have made shows like Judge Judy and Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer famous. Vast majority of population loves cat videos and would click on "Top 30 reasons to see royal wedding". They are the one who will stay on FB for hours and contribute towards FB's impression goals. One time I was researching replies in twitter feed of Trump and other conservatives like Ann Coulter. It's purely fascinating how many people are out there with nothing else to do, hanging out there for hours on, posting stupid meme after meme for insignificant posts. You, me and crowd in general at HN is different. FB is not optimized for us and I highly doubt they would care about how we want FB to be.

Vast majority of population loves cat videos and would click on "Top 30 reasons to see royal wedding"

I bet those people are shown what their friends post and are moaning on their own forums about the lack of memes and quizzes these days.

The point of the algorithm seems to be to keep you scrolling and scrolling to see what you actually want so I bet that noone is happy.

I've definitely been guilty of #4 even recently (I'm not sure if they made anyone feel awkward, though; those that did probably just ignored it), but there are 2 reasons I don't mind it from the poster's point of view.

1. If it makes you feel awkward that I'm honest about who I am in writing, then yeah, our friendship is probably superficial at best, and in those cases, I'm not really concerned on your feelings about my feelings. Feel free to unfollow (I know I unfollow certain friends posts).

2. Blogs have been used for this sort of thing for a MUCH wider audience than a group of friends behind a gated digital community, and I've personally never had any kind of issue with reading people's personal struggles, even other devs, and in fact it makes them far more human to me.

Then again, the type of vulnerability you're thinking of may be different than mine, but either way, to each his own. :)

The rest of the behaviors you mentioned are pretty much why I generally don't use Instagram or Twitter more than once every few months. Those formats, even when following devs, seem to encourage the types of activity you're discussing at least in my feeds. But FB is probably the platform I curate the most, simply because most of the people I care about use it to share about their life, from milestones to quick takes, for the most part, without excessive narcissistic self aggrandizing posts (some do, but most are fairly harmless, otherwise after a while, I just choose not to follow).

But I've noticed that there are definitely preferences across the board, which is mainly why they all seem to stick around. I doubt there will be one social media platform to rule them all, the same way there's no one amusement park or one kind of gym. There are behemoths, but there's always a long tail, especially in socializing.

I guess it reads as a little gross or awkward on the surface but those are all signs of people who are feeling lonely or powerless.

When you’re really turned off by a post (or posts), try flipping it the other way around and see if you can feel your honest concern. Don’t patronize the person and make a big deal of the post, but act constructively: reach out and say hi and share the things that you like about them.

And if you can’t feel moved to do that, that’s fine. You’re not obliged to do anything. But it just might make you leave less grossed out and it might do your friend some good.

It's not that I'm not empathetic, but the kind of Real Speak you're sort of proposing feels out of place in a relatively public setting. I'd rather have a coffee or beer with them if I know them well, and if I don't, it's not like I call them on it, but it does slowly make me want to interact with facebook less. (I know I can unfollow people, but at a certain point it strikes me less about people misusing facebook, and more that facebook incentivizes these kind of behaviors)

> feels out of place in a relatively public setting. I'd rather have a coffee or beer with them if I know them well

To follow up on gppong's comment, these are often people who don't know anyone well ("lonely or powerless"). So the fact that it's people you don't know well who post things like that is kind of obvious in hindsight.

I think I would do this for my friends, even without Facebook. The problem is when I have to spend emotional labor tending to people I haven't seen since high school.

I'm probably one of the rare people who has avoided Facebook for many years and has been using it more recently, so I'm just discovering many things people complain about.

I figured out how to exclude people whose updates tend to be really judgmental or political from my feed without defriending them, but I am still really frustrated by there being no way to keep it chronological. Facebook wants me to read the "top" posts, over and over, apparently, regardless of whether I'm interested or have already read them. And yet, there are many updates that I miss if I don't go to the effort of looking for them.

Most of the value to me is in the messaging function, but there's really nothing special about it compared to all the others that have existed - it's only useful because it's on FB and connected to the people I know that are there.

I find it disturbing when people I don't know ask to be friends, if they don't have any friends in common with me. I can't really understand why FB even allows this as when would they not be bots or scammers?

Facebook is just the AOL of a younger generation...just global in scale and on a longer timeline.

    People came in droves when it was new and shiny and the easiest route to 'whatever' online.

    At some point folks are only staying around for the messaging platform.

    In some glacially-long (for the internet) pace of time, Facebook will be sunsetted in favor of the new hotness.

I think AOL is a good model of where Facebook is headed. It's happened to MySpace, it's happened to Digg, it's going to happen to Reddit, wtf were they thinking? Strangely enough, the worst site of them all, Twitter, will be the only one left alive as it is.

What cracks me up is reddit turned into blogspot with the redesign. So sad. At least there is still old.reddit for now.

Twitter is moving in on LinkedIn

Twitter needs to die just so I can... please, in the name of all that is good and holy... stop being fucking hounded on all other media at 26 second intervals by every Z-list celebrity, podcaster, radio clown, journalist and postal carrier begging me to follow them.

This has been the way people have been getting engagement since advertising started. Twitter is actually the most efficient form of it. It's not going away and it's better than the alternatives.

I find it disturbing when people I don't know ask to be friends, if they don't have any friends in common with me. I can't really understand why FB even allows this as when would they not be bots or scammers?

When it's someone you just recently met.

yep I can imagine an alternate reality where you move into a new town and are socially outcast online by a facebook policy where you must have at least one facebook friend in common.

imagine going out of state for college and then not being able to add the hundreds of people you’ve met to your facebook friends list because you’re not already connected on facebook with at least one person in common.

people would just spend more time on another social network, where they can connect.

IIRC, last I used fb (some years ago), there was an option to only allow requests to be made by friends of friends. Faulty memory or option removed?

No, it is still there. I use it because I am only on Facebook for one group. By having no "friends" I can look at the group without the clutter and no "friend requests".

And, since the group are moving to a WhatsApp group soon, I wont have to use Facebook at all.

You can just use http://messenger.com. You don’t even need a Facebook account to use it.

This. The feed algorithm appears to be designed by committee with the usual results. Fonzi stuck his landing a long time ago.

I used to post random thoughts that struck me as funny and I spent some time getting the wording just right. But I'm such an outlier that it stopped being fun. I just text them to a couple of people now.

On the few occasions I go on Facebook I have to resist the urge to post a tongue-in-cheek comment about how I check in so rarely because "you're all so goddamn boring."

And if I have to look at one more picture of somebody's $37 plate of paella I'm going to burn my eyes out with a fireplace poker.

> I'm going to burn my eyes out with a fireplace poker.

I hope you’re joking but if not, there is help available for you. Facebook is not reason enough for self-harm. It comes very, very, very close, but close is not close enough.

Instagram and others like it killed my Facebook feed, but because it was Instagram and others, it meant that people spread, and as a result the other feeds died out fairly quickly as well. I don’t miss it much, but it made me realize I missed blogs and personal geeky pages with actual substance and that I had been using the shallow Facebook feed as a replacement for the “real” internet.

Facebook is still so useful for groups and events that it’s impossible to leave though. I mean, you can leave, but then you’re the guy/woman whom others need to go out of their way to schedule with.

I have noticed the same thing, my news feed is full of people that I don't even message at facebook. Later I realised that it's because I unconsciously spend more time on their posts because of their clickbaity nature (ex. politics, humorous posts, attractive people, controversial topics) than I do with my real friends. I tried creating a few accounts to test this hypothesis and found out that even if I don't like or comment on their posts, just the act of hovering over their posts for a few seconds longer than other friends is enough for the news feed algo to prioritise these posts on my feed.

Twitter got it right with a "customisable news feed", the list[0], where I could create several list timelines for my friends and organize them by those who post about tech, business, political rants, etc.

[0] https://help.twitter.com/en/using-twitter/twitter-lists

I am fully sick of all the political, religious, and commercial posts on facebook. It used to be fun: it used to be about what my friends were doing, and organising events. Now it's just full of garbage, all of which is pushing some sort of agenda, and it feels extremely tired.

I havent used facebook in 3 months for anything other than a status asking for volunteers for an event.

(and that status didnt even work)

I havent missed it. It was a bunch of people that arent my friends sharing things that drive me crazy(politics that I have no impact on).

BTW, FB has this "See First" feature where you can mark your friends to show their posts first. That has improved FB's usability to me just to borderline. Unfortunately they don't let me chose more than 30 people. It's mind numbing what kind of morons FB has hired who makes these decisions. Why the fuck I don't want to see more than 30 friends post first? Even worse, why the fuck can't they figure this out from all the decade worth of data they have on me?

I’ve found that, much like reddit, it’s best experienced by tailoring your feed to what you actually want to see. In my case, I unfollowed all posts from anyone I don’t actually care about, and removed my interests section entirely (fan pages and such contributed at least 50% of the spam on my feed - random sports autoplay videos are not what I’m looking for when i go on facebook). Facebook is a tool for making sure I’m not out of the loop with my actual friends. I don’t need to keep up to date with some person from my calculus class halfway across the country - and if i do run into them again, i can simply ask.

> pretty girls posting selfies of themselves doing nothing interesting, or dudes with gym photos, that kind of thing

That's Instagram.

When your business is around a "original photo" sharing platform for the "mass" and you focus on maxing "views".

What else should we expect?

Agree. It pretty much has the feeling of a sugar shock. You enjoy it first, get a bit of a rush, and then feel exhausted and gross afterwards. Better avoid it

Facebook and Youtube both seem to obviously be optimising for the wrong metrics. It's really unfortunate, their original versions were much more fun to use and probably easier to code, but they have sufficient network effects that any disruptors will have to be not just a little but a lot better to replace them, even as their quality drops.

Honestly I left Facebook to get away from ppl like you who turn every post into a chance to judge me against some unwritten moral code. Who needs enemies when you have friends on Facebook?

So it seems the candle is burning from both ends.

Don't post ridiculous political rants. Don't post passive aggressive public posts targeted at one of your friends.

There, your unwritten moral code is now written. Go forth and spread your seed.

I find Facebook to be way more enjoyable after aggressively muting people whose posts I don't care for. Now it's really an RSS feed for friends and family, minus a lot of junk

I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to purge my friends list of thousands of people.

I moved on.

If it is any consolation, I am thinking you are actually a judgemental person.

you definitely don't sound like majority voice.

I have to wonder how many HN comment anecdotes are related to HNers just getting older.

Yeah, I'm meeting fewer people than I did in uni. I use Facebook less than I did in uni. As I get older, it takes more and more effort to meet people. Easy for me to see downward trends in Facebook when I don't plot them against downward trends in novelty in my own social life.

But then I moved abroad at 25, I'm almost 30 now, I'm meeting new people (immigrants and locals) every month, and Facebook has become useful again for growing acquaintances into friendships like it always was.

HNers like to grandstand about how they rediscovered how to call people instead of messaging them, but that's still something you do with your closer circle, not acquaintances in 2018. And that's a personal issue if you had to quit Facebook just to relearn how to call mom or your best friends. I certainly don't relate to that.

It's like people who condemn Facebook because they got addicted to scrolling the news feed. Seems like condemning Netflix because you can't stop binge-watching. At which point do you take responsibility for yourself?

Aside, SimilarWeb, like Alexa, seems pretty useless for metrics. I remember gaining 100k+ Alexa ranking by installing the Alexa toolbar on my own machine and visiting my own websites as usual. Never looked at Alexa ratings since.

I guess I'm getting anti-Facebook fatigue. Especially when the predictable HN comments are things like "I quit Facebook and now I go outside again. Everyone needs to try this!"

I might be able to give some perspective on this. I'm 16 years old, and I know about 4 people who are active om FB. People who are a few years older generally do have FB, though, and use it quite intensively. Most of the contact people have with FB are WhatsApp and Instagram, which are both ubiquitous. (For context, I'm Dutch.)

> I remember gaining 100k+ Alexa ranking by installing the Alexa toolbar on my own machine and visiting my own websites as usual. Never looked at Alexa ratings since.

I'm ashamed to admit my first thought was "damn I need to install Alexa and start browsing our site" lol =(

> At which point do you take responsibility for yourself?

According to my life amongst real breathing people, most people come to that phase either very late in life, or never.

Plus as another comment said, these platforms are designed to addict -- they exploit brain bugs and vulnerabilities, so to speak.

Me personally? I only lasted 5-6 months in the first part of 2013. I very quickly understood what is going on and even though I was much more insecure and needed loads of validation, I still got out.

I am sympathetic to the message -- I fully get it that you should be mature and take responsibility for your emotions.

But don't idealize Homo Sapiens. Common sense isn't common at all.

Yes we should take responsibility for ourselves but the companies must be penalized when taking advantage of brain weaknesses as well.

I would add that Americans are (possibly uniquely) politicised and can't seem to stop constant posting about news. My friends from other countries never do that and instead use Facebook to talk about their actual lives.

I also have anti-Facebook fatigue and HN threads about Facebook are tiresome and predictable. It is like a never-ending line of newly converted going on about veganism or Crossfit or whatever...but in HackerNews' case it is about anti-Facebook and how you'll be smarter, sexier, sleep better, lose weight, and your children and dog will love you more once you give up Facebook.

Facebook is actively incentivizing posting of news. I remember over the years they made multiple changes specifically to bring more news to the users. Which is strange, given that they had the bulk of their growth when people were posting banal stuff and game requests.

I haven't been on Facebook for 6 and 7 years and still often feel like I'm missing out and find it difficult to stay in the loop on events as well as staying connected with new acquaintences. How about that?

> At which point do you take responsibility for yourself?

Everything these apps do is to get people use it more, on purpose. All humans are addicted to these websites. Our brains are built like this. May be because of evolution. So it's not individual fault.

> At which point do you take responsibility for yourself?

Taking responsibility for yourself is about how you use your will. Criticizing facebook is about how you use your reason. I don't see how these need to be in conflict. It's not necessary to blame yourself in order to take responsibility for yourself.

I have to wonder if you are serious. I'm getting anti-Facebook fatigue fatigue. The site will continue to see less usage, there is no doubt.

The question is how many of its existing users will stay on an affiliated Zuckerberg platform?

This is probably me.

I use instagram a little bit.

I am writing an app in react-native.

Does that count? I basically check facebook for event invites only.

More people are not ages 16-25 than are ages 16-25 in the world though.

> Aside, SimilarWeb, like Alexa, seems pretty useless for metrics.

Are there any other better metrics than these two?

While I do think it's silly to assume that #DeleteFacebook is responsible for any serious movement in numbers, I also don't necessarily agree with the interpretation that this is just a downturn from how active Facebook was during the election; it seems it probably would've already dropped off and stabilized if that were the only cause, since the election hasn't been hot news for quite a bit now.

Speaking from personal experience, the scandals Facebook has been involved in are only a small part of why I deleted Facebook; more than anything, I just felt like it was not providing any value to me, just a pure time sink that I became less and less interested in. Maybe I'm not alone.

What will eventually kill Facebook is going to be people just abandoning their account, not #DeleteFacebook or scandals. Most people simply don't have any long term memory allocated to Facebook behaviour. We may actually mean it when we say that we'll delete our account, but when time comes to do it we forget, and forget the scandals and bad behaviour.

Bases on what I see, and that of cause completely anecdotal, more and more people simply don't post anything and the few that does are mostly commenting on sponsored posts in hope of winning a prize.

End the end enough people will quietly start visiting Facebook less and less, because their friends aren't posting anything. In the end they will simply stop using Facebook because they forget about it. Just as Facebook became inevitable at some point, because so many used it, it will crash just a quickly when enough people stop posting.

The surprising part is that advertisers still view Facebook so positively as they seem to be doing. I would think that engagement is pretty low and the number of people you actually reach is pretty low at this point.

In the end Facebook will need to be able to monetise Messenger, luckily they have WhatsApp that already knew how to do exactly that before Facebook bought them.

You are not alone; this was my sentiment exactly. #DeleteFacebook wasn't responsible for me deleting my account, but it made me pause and examine my experience. And I realized checking it several times a day felt more like a chore and I hadn't had a pleasant interaction with anyone in quite a while.

Its also important to ask the “network effect” works both way; people sign up in en-masse hockey stick shape grow because of others. It is quite possible someone in your network is using Facebook less often today, knowing you are inactive/dont exist there anymore. Eventually once the real exhodus starts, it will be equally rapid and happy to watch, as inicial waves of signups.

After a while the dark-pattern growth hacks stop affecting the populace, I guess.

The "Jane is waiting for you to see her post on your timeline" stuff where FB impersonates your friend was when my wife started ignoring everything from FB (I had quit a long time ago).

>since the election hasn't been hot new for quite a bit now.

Oh. How I wish that were true. You must not watch the news much because that's pretty much all I hear on virtually all the channels.

I cut my news consumption down significantly since the election. I don’t feel any less informed checking in once a week, but I get a lot less anxiety. My life is complicated enough.

Facebook was a big part of that, so it’s gone too. I’m simply more deliberate about what I spend my attention on, and Facebook is junk food.

I've been surprised by the number of my wife's peers (mid-late 20s women) who no longer use Facebook, or only use it for messaging and to share photos.

Mid-late 20s man here.

I dont care about anything on the news feed. I officially quit in an overtly, long drawn out week of statuses, but prior to that I had barely used FB in over months.

This data is meaningless because:

1. There is no benchmark and we need one because SimilarWeb is based on a panel. The less people in that panel, the less total traffic to any website.

2. Most likely cause is more app usage and less desktop usage.

Also can we please stop using SimilarWeb as some sort of authority reference? Their panel isnt humongous. Despite the fact they pay Chrome extension owners and later hijack the code to track everyone who installs it.

I was also noticing this-- that the graph shows desktop+mobile WEB, but not native app use. If people are switching from mobile web to native app, this graph would decrease even if more people are using facebook every day, right?


By chance do you have references on SimilarWeb paying "Chrome extension owners and later hijack the code to track everyone who installs it"? Curious to learn more about exactly what they're doing here.

I agree that they can't track native app use but think their data might not be too far off. I just compared a few pages where I have access to traffic data and similarweb estimates aren't too far off, more exact than I had expected. But that could be different for very popular sites.

Similarweb's guess of my site's traffic has been absurdly wrong for years. It thinks the traffic has been wildly fluctuating but it's only ever gone up.

I see it myself. I used to see people’s baby pictures and vacation pictures on Facebook. Now it’s mostly people breathlessly writing about the Mueller investigation or other pointless political shit. My visits have probably dropped 1/3 or more.

How many friends do you have on there? Facebook shows you a tiny percentage of the content added to your network, including repeating items way before they have run out.

If the News Feed team is trying to show me what I actually want to see, and not what they think will get the most interaction, ad clicks or time out of me, they are doing a terrible job. I find that the items displayed do not give me an accurate view of what my connections are posting. Often when I check the pages of in-person friends, while Facebook has been showing inane political posts by people I barely know, I have not been presented with the actually relevant and interesting activity my (real) friends have posted during the same time, or more recently.

I have unfollowed, blocked, and hidden so many stories about guns and politics, yet Facebook manages to find new friends I’ve never heard of with similar stories for my newsfeed. Ever since 2016, at least, I feel like politics is shoved in my face every time I go to Facebook, provoking me to interact with strangers regarding my opinions in one of the worst venues that one can do that.

I think they may be chasing interaction, regardless whether it’s positive our negative. Another wild theory is that they want to gather information about members’ reaction to politics, as it is not as lucrative to record reactions to someone’s cousin’s baby photos. The other alternatives mean they are very bad at their jobs, so I’m not sure.

> If the News Feed team is trying to show me what I actually want to see, and not what they think will get the most interaction, ad clicks or time out of me, they are doing a terrible job.

The News Feed believed that interaction reveals a preference for seeing something. Even though they added more icons so that you weren't thumbs-upping your friends personal tragedies to indicate that they matter to you, interactions all mean “like” in the sense of “I like Facebook relaying this content to me”.

Sure, that’s what I mean by chasing interaction regardless of whether it’s negative or positive. If you comment on something, they show you more items like that, assuming you like to comment on those things. My impression was that Facebook’s user behaviors analysis is way more detailed than that, though.

There are the specific negative indicators you can give to them such as hiding stories, which even says it will make them show fewer stories like that one, and unfollowing people. When you unfollow someone, surely Facebook attempts to analyze why? Neither of these seem to have an impact on the type of items shown to me.

Facebook is not the only place on the Internet that seems to be "poisoned by politics". A few of my hangouts that survived a few presidential elections are now just total wastelands with everyone who was intelligent or not a troll driven off.

I stopped using it when I noticed most of the stuff showing up was pointless political shit and less and less about the people I know.

If FB categorized posts with some ML algorithm and allowed people to filter things out that they don't like (politics), it would be a far more pleasant platform, but then I doubt they'd want to give users that kind of power as it could interfere with addictiveness.

Facebook can and does distort your perception of what a friend posts by selecting only the shares of "pointless political shit" from everything they post. Because that's what gets the engagement metrics up, I believe.

Baby and vacation pictures are now shown & consumed on Instagram. It’s basically the new Facebook without the political debates.

I have been avoiding a lot of sites since the election, largely because they can't seem to let the 2016 election go. Reddit is the biggest, I used to use Reddit a lot, now I'll use it a bit but generally I avoid all but a few subreddits. The others are unbearable, /r/politics is a swamp itself. I am willing to bet a lot of people have dropped off because politics is virtually unavoidable on Facebook. Meanwhile on Instagram, there are very few political posts. Facebook also changed their algorithm and now I see all kinds of stuff I literally do not care about at all, I find myself muting people all the time.

I follow GQ on Facebook and even things they post are so political it's unnerving. Everything has been politicized, people are burned out. I can't even watch a late night talk show anymore without political news being shoved down my throat; so why would I log into Facebook and see what my old classmate or uncle thinks? I am a very active Twitter user, but the crowd I follow sees politics and the media obsession with it as it is, largely a joke.

>I used to use Reddit a lot, now I'll use it a bit but generally I avoid all but a few subreddits. The others are unbearable, /r/politics is a swamp itself

Is it "politics" that you want to avoid? or just views that differ from your own?

I follow everyone from DailyKos to Weekly Standard on Twitter...I don't think I want to "avoid politics" or ones that differ from my own, most people find it very difficult to nail down what my views even are.

I want to avoid circle jerks, nonsensical news items and conspiracies, etc. /r/politics and /r/The_Donald both offer no value to Reddit or society, they are all just echo chambers, and they don't value or encourage diversity in view points. They are the same thing but on opposite ends of the spectrum. /r/Politics will be full of "ShareBlue" links and /r/The_Donald will be full of Breitbart. Not sure where the diversity of thought comes into play, which seems to miss the point of a "forum."

Anyhow, on the Facebook front you have equally uninformed people telling you their opinion on something, usually based on a false premise from a biased source they read...except this time you actually -know- these people.

If you do try to find a middle ground, which is generally where most truth is, in the grey, you are attacked by both sides for not being on their team. Like it's some game.

> /r/Politics will be full of "ShareBlue" links and /r/The_Donald will be full of Breitbart.

I know it feels good to just breezily generalize, but I just looked through the 2 subreddits you named, and of the 125 top-voted links of the past 24 hours on /t/The_Donald, a whopping 4 of them are from Breitbart (a simply Ctrl+F on each page shows it). That subreddit is most memes, tweets, and even simple photos with smart-ass original titles written by the poster. Just do a word-find on "i.redd.it" and then "imgur.com" on each of the first few pages and see.

As for Shareblue on /r/Politics, there are no links from the Shareblue.com domain in the top 125 links today, but I assume you were referring to the source of the narratives; well, you would more effective in just point to actual sites: of the top 125 links on there for the past 24 hours, 16 are from WashingtonPost.com and 15 are from TheHill.com.

Edit - here:



I'm pretty sure "ShareBlue" links include washingtopost.com and thehill.com. Those sites are pretty much in total agreement with ShareBlue's positions

I gave up on reddit politics because it has an overwhelming pro establishment, pro-corporate-democrats bias. And in their effort to fight against "fake news" this has gotten worse because they effectively only accept links from pro-establishment sources like the washington post.

Additionally,criticism of the democratic party from the left is frequently met with accusations of being a russian shill.

Also I got tired of seeing overused words like "slammed" in article titles.

Anecdote. I'm very liberal and as upset as anyone about Trump and the aftermath. But I have an aunt who constantly posts anti-Trump stuff, and it is just so tedious. At best this sort of things ends up being a version of the two-minutes-hate. I've taken to telling it "hide posts from XXX political source" just to get rid of it all...

Have you ever checked r/politics its basically just a Trump hate subreddit. There is no objectivity in it.

In a democracy, politics does deserve the front-page. What's shameful is how the masses and media cover current events...

That problem is not caused by technology, it's caused by actual politics.

The problem of people being incensed by the political situation (from either side) is caused by politics. The problem of everyone feeling that they have to shout their politics to everyone around them, all the time, is caused by something else. Loss of civility? An almost religious attachment to Team Red or Team Blue? It's something more than politics. It's a breakdown of some elements of social unity that used to exist.

> I have been avoiding a lot of sites since the election, largely because they can't seem to let the 2016 election go

Could you elaborate on this a bit? What type of behavior would fit the description of "letting the election go"?

I think I'm just getting bored of information. I even find myself unexcited to check Reddit, or major news sites, or even this site. My routine used to be to check Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, CBC and CNN, GitHub "explore" and HackerNews. Now I just tend to get up in the morning, eat a muffin and stare off and think about stuff. I'm tempted to look at these sites but know I won't see anything that tickles me. So I find myself actually just deciding not to look at all.

I think a lot of "information" on the internet these days is little more than noise.

News site: "Click-bait headline about something that happened that doesn't really change things."

Reddit: "A picture or anecdote about something perfectly mundane that happens to everyone, presented in a slightly interesting way that ultimately doesn't matter"

Hackernews: "A random tech article that expresses someone's opinion, or a random release of software or announcement. Doesn't really matter."

The information most likely to spread is mundane information that appeals to the most people. Welcome to the viral internet.

At least Hackernews frequently surfaces interesting content with technical depth and merit. I've learned a ton here and gotten connected to interesting technologies.

I have a friend of a friend who has described the same feeling. They weren't sure what to make of it.

I have the same feelings too.

In my case it is because of information being overwhelming. I just check a couple of sites at maximum now, the digital wellbeing thing that Google presented at io this year really resonated with me

I have the same feeling but am still guided by the monkey in my head that has the habit of checking everything. Any good replacement ideas for that dopamine hit?

this is most commonly diagnosed as depression

Can you clarify what you mean? I doubt that deciding not to look at news sites on the internet is depression.

I don't see any strong correlation here. To me it looks like it was dropping from about Aug'16, and this blog has merely drawn a line for the US election and called it a story. Based on a quick google search, the US is only number 2 in terms of total Facebook users[0] - maybe it might have been worth considering other factors outside of US politics that might account for this trend?

0: https://www.statista.com/statistics/268136/top-15-countries-... (No idea how accurate it is, but.)

Exactly, you have to tease out seasonality and the impact of special events like elections on user behavior. For example, is the percentage drop any greater than after previous elections?

I think people underestimate the truly global scale of Facebook. Even then, the US is a fraction of FB's user-base.

The author confuses mobile web for mobile app traffic which isn't accounted for. One is the traffic from users using facebook.com via a browser on their phone versus using the installed application. Maybe the drop is real or Facebook has successfully converted more users to the Facebook app, Messenger app, etc.

Holy crap. Now it makes sense. I couldn't understand how Facebook usage could have been steadily dropping for over a year. So the entire article is pointless and wrong.

Facebook is two things for me right now: 1. A lazy way of registering to sites 2. New Urbanist Memes For Transit-Oriented Teens (my feed is exclusively this one right now)

The notifications going a bit mad about 18 months ago or so when they introduced the market stuff and "your friends are interested in going to X" was what ran me off. I'd unsubscribe and unfollow and new worthless ones would take up their place.

Now I don't even bother checking my notifications; I'll log in maybe twice a day to check if I received any messages, have a scroll through NUMTOTs, that's about it.

Heh, me too! It was only in the past year that I've discovered NUMTOT and other fun groups, and my enjoyment of FB has increased a lot since I've joined them.

NUMTOTS everywhere! (Is this peak transit?) In all seriousness, it's definitely more fun than vanilla facebook, although I'd have a hard time calling it a shelter from politics or praising its level of overall discourse.

I don't have "data" to back it up but my personal experience is the same. My feed feels "empty". most of my posts don't get any likes/comments and most of my friends that used to post few times a day are doing it once a week now.

Interesting chart showing FB steady decline over last 5 yrs on Google Trends. May not be the strongest correlation but interesting nonetheless: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=today%205-y&q=...

Larger time window with comparison to Google and Snapchat.


Google is also dropping in Google Trends. Assuming there is a drop in usage of FB (not just a drop in searches for FB), I guess the 2016 election is only one contributing factor.

It seems odd to me that iPhone wouldn't spike, especially so around 2007. Am I reading this wrong?

It did spike, being compared with Facebook et al. normalizes the spikes away though: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=%2Fm%2F0...

I think I expected it to be much closer to the popularity of FB, I'm quite surprised.

Unrelated, I recognise your name from GitHub, thanks for your work on the psychonaut wiki, I've used that resource many times.

Great to hear, thanks! :-)

That’s interesting because many people use Google as a locator - they don’t type in Facebook.com, they type Facebook into the omnibar and click on the first link that comes up in Google. So it does show declining intent to visit Facebook. I imagine that the URL autocomplete feature in major browsers has also played a role in the decline you’ve shown here though.

Also the facebook app

Personal anecdote time: The line on that chart, the 2016 election, was exactly when I cut back on my Facebook use. I had former friends who posted stuff that night like "white people need to die" and "unfriend me if you voted for [insert candidate's name here]".

Notwithstanding all the privacy issues, I remember the days when Facebook used to be fun. Back before timeline, back when it was limited to colleges, back when "Random Play" was listed as a desired relationship option. Now it's meme and clickbait article land.

I can see why people are desperate to "prove" that the supposed election meddling or the Cambridge Analytica scandal is causing Facebook to fail, but the data just doesn't show that at all.

People make a big deal about privacy, but the actual users of social media usually post stuff because they want everyone to know about it. The people who really care about privacy are not on social media. There's already a general understanding that when using the internet, you're getting tracked by various actors and people (even begrudgingly) accept that.

That same graph shows that Facebook usage has been dropping virtually every month before the election and after, totaling almost 50% loss. There's no exceptional change visible due to any particular event. There are some strong upticks in there as well, but the longterm trend is down.

I believe the most reasonable explanation is simply that people are moving on, just like they moved on from MySpace and other previously popular platforms. Young people are leading the charge here, it's just not as comfortable when your grandmother and high school teacher can see you on Facebook. It's uncool.

> users of social media usually post stuff because they want everyone to know about it

> it's just not as comfortable when your grandmother and high school teacher can see you on Facebook

I think most posts on social media are targeted at people in the poster's peer group, and the only reason that everyone else can see them too is that broadcasting is the default way to contact multiple people without prior coordination (say, by joining a group chat).

I don't actually use Facebook, but I'm under the impression that you can post to just the people who are your friends or just a set of friends. There's certainly the possibility to at least not broadcast to the whole internet.

I sometimes wonder if truly my friends have started posting less on Facebook or is it their algorithm messing up again?

I see almost no original content posted by friends and only posts from pages with comments by my friends on them ("X and Y commented on Z page's photo")

Stuff like that is a surefire sign that your friends are indeed posting less and they are just filling up the space with second degree content.

I actually love to browse Facebook, mainly because I've taken the time to curate groups / pages I enjoy getting updates from. In addition, all of my friends still actively use Facebook too (all college kids) for status updates, photo uploads, and a LOT of event postings (most college campus groups/clubs/activities have migrated to be exclusively on Facebook).

Maybe it's one of those things that drops off after highschool / college / when everyone goes their separate ways ?

AFAICT, this is traffic for desktop web and mobile web. It doesn't include the mobile app. Who's to say people aren't just moving to mobile app?

The article claims it includes app visits: "Since then, total monthly visits to Facebook in the US (both on the web and through the mobile app) have fallen [by 3 billion/month]."

SimilarWeb has no fool-proof way of tracking app usage, nor even app downloads (don't trust anyone that says they can, unless they're Apple or Google).

What they can track is the number of ratings - nothing else, but there's very little correlation between that and app usage.

I miss the blog and personal websites era. These “too easy to share” years created a lot of noise and we still do not have a good alghoritm to filter it, and even if we had, we would blame it for filtering content and shaping our thoughts.

Users like to be in control. I have seen the rss emerging again, specially here on HN discussions, and I believe that is the best solution to follow updates.

I, for one, am actively trying to limit my FB usage. I started actively limiting my FB usage last summer, so way before the Cambridge Analytica news. I do use it still for some groups, and Messenger from time to time, but I try hard to stay away from the main FB service.

I am also slowly but surely deleting content from my account. Deleting old content, deleting likes and whatnot.

>I am also slowly but surely deleting content from my account. Deleting old content, deleting likes and whatnot.

I would have likely stayed on the platform if there was an easy way to do this. One of my biggest concerns wasn't just Facebook analysing my data, but allowing others to access it indiscriminately and I wanted a way to delete it.

There's no API functionality to delete/untag/unlike anything. Timeline is a mess, there's no bulk delete option or option to even select multiple/all. No "delete after X days" feature. In the end I spent 3x12 hour shifts writing a python script using image processing to find delete buttons in timeline and go through the motions to delete everything. It took about 3 hours for me to write/debug/test 300 lines of spaghetti python and another 30 or so for it to go through everything and try to delete. All of which should have been doable in <30 lines, a single API call, or by just hitting ctrl+a and delete. I deleted my account afterwards mainly out of spite.

Considering how politicians are already getting stung by things they posted to FB/Twitter in their teens here in the UK it is absolutely incomprehensible to me how Facebook doesn't have half decent delete functionality.

Ironically propagations of articles like this is actually more or less the reason I stopped using Facebook.

No one reads primary sources anymore. All kinds of baiting conclusions and titles are drawn on absolutely minimal data with zero scientific rigor like this blog entry and my feed is just reshares of these McNews for shock value and social credits.

Facebook has lost it when it stopped being a social network where people follow their friends' lives. Once it became a 'I share random links or "news" stories off the internet' feed it lost all its value. There is nothing social about a Fox News or MSNBC story link. At all.

I didn't see any sort of methodology in how they get that data. While the article said it included both web and mobile app traffic, I'm skeptical unless they provide more data. Could be that usage is just moving more to the app than web and the counting is different.

By "Facebook" do they mean "Facebook" or "Facebook + Instagram + ..."?

That's my question too. It seems more Facebook users are migrating to Instagram. They did announce 150 million people now use stories. My experiences could be biased, but it amazes me how many Instagram users don't know it's a product of Facebook.

Doesn't this go against the numbers that facebook put out in its most recent quarterly report?

Facebook dependency can’t really drop significantly as long as people keep requiring it for things that don’t technically need Facebook.

Don’t link to articles only viewable on Facebook. If somebody plans an event on Facebook, push back and request to be sent the details and say “I can’t log in to Facebook”, etc. Check in with your friends in non-Messenger ways, e.g. phone messaging or (gasp!) actually seeing them in person. Make walled-off sites unacceptable.

Facebook is alive and well, at least for everyone who uses it on a daily basis. The mass users of Facebook are not the least worried about the negative effect of social networks and those who actually left after recent events are not enough to affect those statistics.

Probably what's hurting it the most is the new users count, as I think that nowadays new users pick other social networks to hang out with their friends, such as Snapchat or Instagram.

I wonder how many were just bots during the election.

My experience from running Facebook ads is that Facebook is crawling with bots.

We might never know the actual numbers.

Facebook recently said they deleted 583 million fake accounts in just the first quarter of 2018. It's entirely plausible a lot of that supposed usage drop, is more aggressive bot elimination.


Yup, good point.

We also have no idea how many more there are, certainly FB wasn't warning anyone that their numbers might have been incorrect because of bots any time before getting rid of them..?

From what I understand of the bot deletion in question, these were newer accounts and are not counted in the official monthly active user figures (the 2.2 billion number). That is, Facebook's monthly active count isn't going to suddenly show 1.7 billion now instead.

So bored of Facebook hate.

Correlation is not causation.

SimilarWeb buys data from ISP DNS resolvers. During the same time, Cloudflare DNS resolver was released to the public and marketed heavily.

Even my nontechy gf started using Cloudflare Resolver. She saw that on twitter was curious about the benefits and was not disappointed.

So, yeah usage did decline a bit but not that much.

I can say the same thing about my observation of how my friends use Facebook. Most of my friends have started to comment and post stuff lot less in the last year or two.

Waiting for school to end. I rely on Facebook for quick messages and group classroom posts. Once Summer break starts, I can #DeleteFacebook until next year.

Will you start over again with a new account in the Fall?

Sorry for the late reply. I most probably will. I'm working on making a middleman website to remove FB tracking. If it works out, I'll rely on that instead.

just so you'll know, similar web gets it data, mainly by spying on users via browser extensions. this is far from being legal. or at least a dark gray area.

I have personally complained about that, once found private URLs I sent to clients, and were not published elsewhere ever, were listed in their stats under that specific sub domain, but never got a satisfying response, if at all.


This is just bad data journalism.

I suspect Facebook is going to die "The Orkut Death"!

Nice. that platform's just wasting primates' time.

Ah yes, I remember The Great DeFriending of 2016.

This is only web traffic and doesn't tell us much. Facebook usage overall might be up, as far as we know.

I gave up on Facebook about 10 months ago because of my friends there, most people who kept posting something were Commies/Putinists - which is a Russian equivalent of Trump supporters - those with liberal views just stopped posting. For me, it became a conservative outlet. I no longer saw anything of value for me there, and just deleted my account.

Bot DAU's are a fraudulent metric. FB ( and other social media sites) have been using this for quite some time to inflate their performance.

Really? You think Facebook has an army of bots trying to inflate their metrics?

It wouldn’t be the least ethical thing that Zuck as ever done...

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