Goodbye Facebook. Or should that just be hasta luego?

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The past week has seen the world going crazy over rumours that our faithful friend Facebook is on a downward slide. Reports of dwindling users came from a reliable source – Facebook Insider – which analyses data and sells it on to advertisers and investors, hence the level of outrage/hysteria/excitement/joy (delete as appropriate) the news has caused.

In May, 100,000 Brits posted their last status update before clicking the ‘deactivate account’ button. They weren’t alone either, as similar numbers of Russians and Norwegians also gave the social networking giant the thumbs down last month. So why have we fallen out with our old ‘best friend?’

It seems we relished Facebook when it was the cool new kid on the block, but now it’s become so mainstream we don’t feel as much affection for it anymore – and having our Mums on there certainly doesn’t help with street cred. Users are searching for new ways to interact on social media networks that carry the same kudos that Facebook once did. Twitter, with its 200 million users, is perceived as being more desirable, with hashtags like ‘#facebooksucks’ trending recently.

More independent social networking sites, such as A Small World, are picking up Facebook’s ex-believers, who now prefer a touch more privacy and more focused discussions in their online communities.

A flick through the archives reveals precedents to this turn of events. A similar thing happened to ITV when Channel 4 launched in the 80s, as viewers of the mainstream station tuned in to the ‘trendier little sister’. Numerous competitors then came along that tapped into the more alternative tastes of viewers.

Personally, I think Facebook will be around for a long time yet. Yes, it might be facing competition, but like ITV with its mass market appeal, it will continue to exist, albeit on a less-dominating scale. Also, with people in Mexico, Indonesia and India creating profiles in their droves, it seems that Facebook doesn’t have too much to worry about for the time being. And with a current value of $80 billion and 700 million users, Zuckerberg shouldn’t be going hungry just yet.

It’s not so much the end of social networking, rather the start of so much more…