Editorial: Facebook has lost sight of mission

By The Pitt News Editorial Staff

Ten years ago, a student at Harvard University created a social platform that revolutionized the way in which college students interacted with one another. A decade later, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook earned $2.5 billion in revenue in the last quarter of 2013.

Today marks the 10th birthday for Facebook, a social media powerhouse that offers a variety of services such as social networking, advertising and business collaborations, among others. What once was strictly a social networking site on which college students could connect with one another has become a lucrative business for every shareholder of the public company.

Although Facebook has proven to be a valued investment, it is frightening to imagine where it will be in the next 10 years, if it makes it to 2024. Facebook has disappointingly become more of an advertising and marketing platform than a social network, which was its original intended purpose, and the fad of interacting with friends on the site has begun to leave the younger demographic, appealing more to older adults.

When Facebook began, Zuckerburg envisioned a social media platform that would revolutionize the college experience by connecting students through social networks that gave an overview of each individual student’s interests. Essentially, he intended to strengthen the community on college campuses.  

But lately, Facebook has distanced itself from its original intent and has since moved toward commercialization, losing the initial mission it set out to accomplish.

Facebook has evidently implemented a number of methods of advertising to its website in recent years as a way of increasing revenue for providing a service more than 180 million people use in the United States alone. While that may seem promising for Facebook stockholders, demographics of who uses Facebook have drastically changed.

Between 2011 and 2014, there has been a 58.9 percent decline in the number of high school students on Facebook and a 59.1 percent decline in college students using the service. The number of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 on Facebook has declined 25.3 percent, while young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have decreased by 7.5 percent.

Surprisingly, the demographic groups that saw the largest increase in Facebook activity were adults between 25 and 54 years of age and 55 years of age and up. Those age groups saw a 41.4 percent increase and 80.4 percent increase, respectively.

Through Facebook’s evolution, the platform has begun to form into a recommended product to use for older adults and an old trend for the demographic it originally targeted.

These statistics only solidify the notion of a more commercialized Facebook. Instead of improving its social networking capabilities solely, its profit-driven moves have diminished the allure of having a profile on Facebook.

For the future, Facebook will have to battle between being more commercially driven or socially driven. As of today, Facebook seems to have chosen capital over the social component.