In many ways Facebook seems a lot like Microsoft. It is the giant of the social media world and barely seems fazed when new competition appears on the market. For example, despite plenty of predictions to the contrary, Google+ had minimal effect on the social networking giant and seems unlikely to be a threat anytime in the near future. Despite this, Facebook may have reached its high water mark. The bright future for this company has been dimmed, not be competition, but by recent revelations about its practices and recent decisions about future policies. Any or all of the following could easily lead to bad will among users, which are the lifeblood of social networking.
Tracking – Most users are aware that Facebook tracks what they type and share. But it was recently revealed that Facebook is also tracking what users choose not to share. Facebook claims that the user agreement permits this, but what is legally permitted and what passes the smell test are very different things. Most users won’t know or even care, but this could easily be the final straw for people who are on the fence about whether to remain a Facebook user. It also opens a whole host of privacy questions that will, unfortunately, probably be answered in a court of law. For now Facebook claims that the tracking of this type of information is being used for research purposes only, but the company has suggested there will be more use for this information later. It is a slippery slope to climb and really puts egg on the face of the company in terms of privacy rights.
Organic Reach of Pages – According to Time magazine, Facebook is decreasing the organic reach of pages and intends to continue to do so to the point that most pages will reach an almost insignificant number of people. In layman’s terms, this means that when something is posted on a page, fewer people will actually see what is posted. Even if you have liked and are following a page, you are unlikely to see the majority of posts made on that page. Unless you manually access the page, you will probably not be able to keep up with it. So far the company has provided no redress to this situation other than to suggest that users buy advertisement, a solution that is not an option for many smaller businesses. In an environment where net neutrality is being threatened with extinction, users are likely to be unhappy with Facebook implementing policies that essentially amount to the same thing.
Oculus Rift Purchase – Oddly, of all the unlikely things to cause bad press for Facebook, it is the purchase of a VR headset that is having the greatest impact. Facebook spent $2 billion to purchase Oculus Rift and the resultant firestorm was unexpected, to say the least. Both companies expected some anger over the sale, but not the level of anger that has been shown. It has gotten to the point that Oculus Rift employees have actually received death threats against them and their families. The anger seems to be primarily due to the fact that Oculus Rift was a Kickstarter project and that it was bought after getting successfully funded. Yes, this is something of a large company buying out a smaller company, but the smaller company actually requested the funding and all Kickstarter backers will receive their promised rewards. It is arguably the least deserved of the hate that Facebook is getting, but due to the way the internet works, it is likely to do the most damage to the reputation of the company.