Facebook: Dead and Gone or Alive and Well?


It’s been two weeks since The Conversation published its report claiming that Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) as a social network is “dead and buried,” but some are still not willing to let the argument go. Following The Conversation’s ”Facebook’s so uncool, but it’s morphing into a different beast,” Quartz published a scathing rebuke of the report on Monday, calling the story an “inaccurate report that goes viral on social media before the accurate version has a chance to catch up.”

It all started when Daniel Miller, the professor of material culture at University College London who penned The Conversation’s story, reported his findings that young people now use other social media outlets like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) instead of Facebook because their parents are crowding them out of Mark Zuckerberg’s social network. Miller wrote, “What we’ve learned from working with 16-18 year olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried.” It took only seconds for the controversial report to hit the Internet and earn retweets and reposts globally.

Not many go up against the social media behemoth that is Facebook, so the results of The Conversation’s study were certainly news — big news. Unfortunately, what Quartz relayed Monday is that not all news is legitimate news, and publication enlisted the help of a Pew Research study to show just how shallow many of The Conversation’s claims really turn out to be.

Per Quartz, the problem with Miller’s study is that it lacks the fundamentals of solid scientific research. Quartz highlights that the professor claimed his results came from an “extensive European study,” when in reality, the data came from a small, localized area in the U.K. Not exactly a dynamic survey pool. A recent Pew report, on the other hand, surveyed a national sample of of Americans and found that both younger and older generations are indeed latching on to other social networks, but they’re also not leaving Facebook.

Pew found that users are keeping open relationships with their social networks. For instance, if someone is signing up for a new account on Twitter, it doesn’t mean he or she is also deactivating Facebook. Quartz’s Leo Mirani writes, “Just as it is possible to have several groups of friends, or several sets of interests, or even different email accounts, it is conceivable that free-thinking individuals will spread out their interests across sites that offer them different things.”

Quartz offered the following chart, created by the Pew Research Center:

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 11.21.55 AM

Quartz soundly argues that Facebook is still alive and well. Facebook’s current stock price of $54.58 as of 11:15 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday certainly supports the Quartz argument rather than The Conversation’s take, but it is all still speculative at this point. Quartz notes all too clearly that 2013 has been a year for writing about social media trends before they even have a chance to happen. Thus, only time will tell whether The Conversation was articulate in uncovering a forecast or if Quartz was just clever enough to call B.S.

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