The Great Facebook Decline is bad, and it’s only going to get worse.
According to Inverse, 74% of American Facebook users have taken at least one step to curtail their Facebook usage.
While privacy breaches and ethics violations are certainly contributors, there’s a hidden root cause of Facebook’s anemic user engagement lurking beneath the surface.
For too long, Facebook has been acting like it owns the Facebook community.
By adding tracking here, sharing private user data there, and making things just a little less transparent everywhere, Facebook forgot the central tenant of online communities. You may have made it, but you don’t own it.
As soon as you create a community, it becomes the de facto property of the community members. While this may not be true legally, it’s certainly true in reality.
Communities only exist through the participation of their members. If people don’t feel like they belong, if they don’t want to be members anymore, the community ceases to function properly. Ultimately, it ceases to exist.
If they ever understood this in the first place, Facebook’s leadership has clearly forgotten. Until Facebook’s team members start acting like stewards and stop acting like owners, the Great Facebook Decline will only get worse.