Facebook - up close, but not so personal

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 18 April 2016
AdNews online editor, Pippa Chambers

As the tectonic plates of social media continue moving, trying to crack our minds and rattle our thumbs, our behaviours to the multifarious platforms are evolving right alongside the twisting algorithms that shape the very beasts themselves.

While we access most – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc via mobile in the palm of our hands, many of the behemoths indeed have us in the palm of theirs – attaching tags, cookies and all manner of personal attributes to the choices and movements we make.

But with people now reportedly sharing fewer personal updates on Facebook, has the king of social's plan backfired? Has the shifting business dynamics and constant spattering of platform changes pushed us too far? And taking what Ritson said, have we become the sea anemones - just reacting to change in a robot fashion (click, play, share, repeat) as opposed to enacting change, thinking and expressing ourselves?

Personally, looking at the Facebook flashback posts of 2008 I was far more vocal with my status updates. I actually found myself laughing at how funny I 'used to be' on Facebook.

From jokes and teasing pals to confident opinions on newsy subjects, regular profile pic updates, gushes of well wishes and even night out plans, it was all on my Facebook wall. But now, fast-forward eight years it's all long gone.

I share the odd news link, ‘like’ all my mum's posts as I know it makes her happy, and post a few beach pics to make the poms back home jealous. In a nutshell, there's less 'me' – I share less.

So, if there's less personal updates and more video re-shares and posts from brands and sponsors – a quick scroll and I am served up with Hasbro Gaming, Discover Tasmania, Sydney.com, tickets to the Semi Permanent event, the Sydney Comedy Festival and Social Bakers – is this a bad thing for Facebook?

Facebook was founded on personal sharing. It was built as a community, most of which has been completely wiped out. This decline is a serious issue but Facebook has downplayed it. Many will also see that the social platform has simply brought this issue on itself as it constantly changes its mind about what it is and what it does.

At this week's F8 it rolled out some huge changes – one of the biggest being that it will allow businesses to deliver automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content and interactive experiences through Messenger chatbots. Note, one of the biggest changes was aimed at businesses. Not so long ago Facebook was rattling out the line that “everything we do is for our users”. This appears not to be the case anymore.

But, while the real me isn't personally sharing on Facebook anymore, I'm still doing it – I’m just doing it on Whatsapp, the Facebook-owned messaging app. But how long until I’m squeezed out of that because business has taken over and undermined the reason I’m using it in the first place?

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