Timely Discussions: Is there an Existential Threat to Social Media?

This week’s Timely Discussions was written by XSeed Partner, Robert Siegel.

Two key news items caught our attention this week — Mark Zuckerberg’s commitment to “fix Facebook” in 2018 and Apple’s being confronted by activist investors to make the iPhone safer for children. When combined with the younger generation’s lack of using Facebook and increasing focus on other social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, we began to wonder if there is an existential threat to the Facebook platform, and social media more broadly, and that Zuckerberg is right to be focused on this issue.

Exacerbated by the extreme negativity that appears constantly in the press, several of the XSeed team commented on the “consistent outrage” that appears in their Newsfeeds, and how time spent on Facebook doesn’t leave one feeling good about what one sees. It isn’t (most times) about jealousy of others’ perfect lives (though that is clearly an issue for the platform), but rather that going on to Facebook seems to be a repeated exercise in viewing people’s moral shock, listening to the still constant echo chamber, and having the sense that time is “wasted” when spent on the platform.

While large, successful companies don’t disappear overnight, we began to wonder if this issue might be hitting a tipping point, as several of us talked about friends we know who no longer log into Facebook, and specific actions that people are taking (including several of us) to decrease their time spent on the platform.