"Leaked documents reveal that a company that was once rebellious and optimistic is now bloated, regretful, and uncool."
This is rich. Not only is Facebook indulging all of humanity's worst impulses, it's become uncool, too.
ometimes it’s hard to remember that Facebook is only 17 years old: If it were a person, it could drive but not drink. If Facebook were a person, it would also be fabulously wealthy, incredibly successful, and exhaustingly argumentative. And it probably wouldn’t use Facebook.
The disclosures in The Wall Street Journal’s “Facebook Files,” leaked by a whistleblower named Frances Haugen, are incendiary. But one of them probably troubles the company’s executives more than yesterday’s service outage, the proliferation of fake news, or even suggestions that Facebook stoked the Capitol riot and violence against the Rohingya people in Myanmar. According to the company’s own research, young people think Facebook is uncool. In a statement that will chill the heart of anyone who remembers cassette tapes and the original version of Baywatch, one 11-year-old boy told the company’s researchers: “Facebook is for old people—old as in 40.”
The statistics bear out that assessment. Five million U.S. teenagers log in to Facebook every day, compared with 22 million for Instagram, according to the materials leaked to The Journal. Most teens I know regard Facebook as the place where their parents go to argue about politics and their grandparents post vacation pictures. And which self-respecting member of Generation Z wants to hang out in an old folks’ home? So it’s goodbye to Boomerbook, and hello to TikTok or Instagram instead. (There is some consolation in this for the company because Instagram, like the messaging platform WhatsApp, is also owned by Facebook.)
acebook’s gray shift should change how we talk about the company’s effect on society, and about social media more generally. This isn’t a young person’s problem. Yes, teenagers are particularly susceptible to peer pressure and the social contagions of suicide and self-harm. The “Facebook Files” included an internal study into how Instagram makes teenage girls feel about their body image (not good), while TikTok and YouTube appear to be driving sociogenic illness—what was once called mass hysteria—among the same demographic. But social-media companies are no longer new, and their users are no longer early adopters. Too much focus on impressionable youngsters obscures research such as the 2019 study of Facebook that found that people older than 65 were the most likely to share links to sites that regularly published false stories. (Around the 2016 presidential election, 11 percent of over-65ers shared links to fake news, but only 3 percent of those ages 18 to 29 did so.) Whatever social media is doing, it’s doing it to all of us.
(more at the link)