Facebook continues to spread its tentacles around the globe allowing people to connect in new and exciting ways. But for one group of users, Facebook is anything but exciting.
That group is Americans.
Recent reports indicate that while the social networking juggernaut may have cracked the 700 million user mark and played a role in significant political protests throughout the MIddle East, it lost more than 6 million users in the U.S. for the first time.
Major news outlets and blogs have cited concerns over controversial privacy policies as a driving force behind the mini American exodus as well as the growing popularity of Twitter. There have been several theories offered to explain the decline, but one in particular stands out: People may be sick of all the drama.
Many U.S. users have been on Facebook for five years or more so the novelty and opportunity to network with wide ranging groups has likely given way to a series of fractured networks and lists of hundreds of “Friends” that are anything but. In short, people may be "quitting" in order to avoid knowing every banal detail of everyone they have ever met. Ever.
With the company opening an office in Austin last year, the capital city once again finds itself at the forefront of social media innovation. Austinites particularly invested in stopping this membership decline could also lead the way in figuring out ways to better manage the clutter. The drop in U.S. profiles is certainly understandable.
Like the 6 million other Americans, I've considered leaving Facebook, but it's such a vital tool and part of the online experience. Throw in the fact that it is nearly impossible to actually delete a Facebook profile, and it becomes clearer that effective management is the way to go.
I've got several ideas to get the conversation going.
Throw in the fact that it is nearly impossible to actually delete a Facebook profile, and it becomes clearer that effective management is the way to go.
Since many of us already access Facebook from our mobile devices, we can start there. Despite concerns over privacy users still have a remarkable amount of control over what they see on Facebook. Spending a little time customizing notification settings on a mobile app will help limit the amount of time spent sifting through the bombardment of comments, requests and invites. And of course we can help by taking the time to only invite people to events that they can actually attend. It's safe to say that getting those constant party invites from that friend in California should be cause for termination, even if they were a college roommate.
For those of us who use Facebook as a professional/creative and personal networking tool another practice that helps cut down on the drama of oversharing is the "Add n' Hide". When meeting people in various parts of life often creates the dilemma of requests from people we don't know but can't unfriend. Instead, accept that friend request from the person you talked to for five minutes at an event and immediately hide them from your newsfeed. It works wonders, and that person's information is still at the ready. They'll never have to know.
Finally, one also might consider removing Facebook from your toolbar of favorite websites. How many of us constantly check Facebook over and over again at work because we are always logged in? With important notifications sent to our phones and email (on our phones), leaving Facebook open in a window on a laptop is just begging you to sift through photos of people you don't talk to. If one had to physically log into it every time you wanted to check it, they might be more inclined to visit less.
What do you think? What are some other tips for curbing the ubiquitous Facebook obsession?