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Is Facebook “Dead And Buried” Among Teens?

Submitted by on December 29, 2013 – 9:04 amOne Comment

News media has been ringing the death knell for Facebook among teen users for years now. But new preliminary findings from an anthropologist in the UK add an academic air of legitimacy to the findings.

Prof. Daniel Miller of University College London writes in academic news site The Conversation that the world’s preeminent social network “is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried.”

The 15-month ethnographic study, taking place simultaneously in eight countries and funded by the European Union, found that Facebook has become toxically uncool for teens as their parents have joined. Miller says “the most seminal moment in a young person’s decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day your mum sends you a friend request.” This has in effect turned the site into a tool for staying connected with older family members.

Miller confirmed what others have already noted: that teens are gravitating instead towards newer apps that adults haven’t heard of yet, and that offer other forms of privacy. This includes temporary messaging and image site SnapChat, image sharer Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), Twitter, and messaging app WhatsApp.

The study also notes that teens are well aware of Facebook’s technical superiority to other sites and apps, but that these are over-ridden by the concerns of privacy from family.

Anecdotal evidence had supported this conclusion for years now, and a Pew Research Study found essentially the same results in the US last spring. Facebook itself confirmed that it was losing teens last month, after initially denying the trends.

While some might take this as a sign of Facebook’s decline, Ryan Tate at Wired says this is all part of Facebook’s plan. He predicts that as teens grow up and move to college and beyond, they will need a network to keep in touch with old friends they no longer see or talk to every day- and then will turn back to Facebook.

What do you think- is Facebook dying? Do university anthropologists know more about teens than Facebook?


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