SO we’re all deserting Facebook. Millions of us are packing our virtual suitcases and migrating to vast digital refugee camps. Why? Because Facebook is evil, of course. It watches you in the shower. Mark Zuckerberg personally owns pictures of you on the toilet (he browses them as he paddles through a swimming pool filled with the freshly squeezed entrails of puppies). A new feature actually records every single thought that dances through your twisted mind, selects the most incriminating and emails them to prospective employers.
Of course, this might not be true. Facebook doesn’t really care about you. Its soon-to-be-700m users may as well be a gigantic herd of braying donkeys, mindlessly mashing their keyboards with their hooves, as long as they generate advertising clicks. No, people are leaving because they are bored. Some of them might even be tweeting. So is this the beginning of the end for Facebook, the moment it realises the rest of its existence will be spent as a social-network fluffer to a newer, sleeker rival? No. Because Facebook has no serious rivals.
People left MySpace because they got sick of the flashing, beeping, fit-inducing design and all the links to some guy’s brother’s band. People left Bebo because it was rubbish. They saw Facebook and thought: “I’ll have a bit of that. Sorry love, I’m leaving you. For Mark Zuckerberg. Suck it up.” But the tedium of uploading flattering photos of yourself eventually becomes overpowering, no matter how slick the interface. So you think: “I don’t need this. I quit.” This is where Facebook is right now. Every business has a saturation point – in Facebook’s case it just happens to be half of the population.
But rather than the start of a terminal decline, Facebook has entered a gradual ebb and flow of users. And for those who leave, it will always be there, waiting for you to log back in and waste more of your life browsing the holiday photos of people you have never met.
It will hit a billion users. No serious rivals will emerge. Zuckerberg will continue to watch you sponge yourself every morning and all will remain good in the world. Just don’t count on getting that job you had your eye on.