THE BLOG

Why Facebook Wants to Make Your Life So Easy You'll Never Need to Go to Another Website Ever Again

08/06/2016 10:05 | Updated 08 June 2016

Fifty minutes is the average time we spend on Facebook every single day. Taken out of context, it might not sound like that much compared to how much we're using newer rivals such as Snapchat and WhatsApp (which Facebook owns), both of which are predicted to have faster growth than the social network over the next ten years.

Obviously, they are starting from a much lower base of consumers but for each of Facebook's 1.65bn active users to be spending almost an hour a day on an activity that did not exist 13 years ago is fairly astonishing. And of course, Facebook is keen for that amount of time to grow - the more time you spend there, the more chances an advertiser has to reach you.

And it's not just videos, articles and photos we're interested in on our news feeds. While Facebook is the king of distributing content at the moment, it knows that readers can be unfaithful, and will seek out news and gifs elsewhere. So it is furiously making products that will keep us there, such as Facebook Live, where you can broadcast live video to your friends, designed no doubt to head off competition from Periscope, which Twitter bought in 2015.

If you're one of the 900m people that uses Facebook Messenger each month, then soon you'll be able to spend even more time on it. Instead of simply chatting with friends, you'll also be able to speak to customer service departments of companies or buy goods from them, all via a new function announced in April 2016. Less time searching other websites via Google for you, and more time in Messenger for Facebook.

There is also M, Facebook's virtual assistant search bot, designed to make your life so easy you will never need to ask anybody else, especially Siri or Google, anything ever again. Bots - or chat robots - are clever bits of software based on artificial intelligence mixed with human assistants that can 'chat' with you like a real person would.

M is still in development, but Facebook has even more plans to keep you on the network for longer. According to Bloomberg, it 'wants you to post more about yourself,' rather than news stories, and staff have been tasked with designing ways to increase users' personal sharing.

The theory is that the more friends you have on the platform, and the longer you've been a member, the more reluctant you may become about putting up your own photos, because they may not be relevant to people you befriended ten years ago but aren't close to 'in real life'. Some people prefer to put their own pictures on other sites like Instagram or Snapchat, but Facebook's On This Day feature is one way the network is encouraging personal information sharing.

Facebook says personal sharing has remained strong, but it is clear that it is looking for more ways for people to use it, and make it feel like an invaluable friend, assistant and source of entertainment. M is kind of like a 'search 2.0,' where questions are answered 'personally,' rather than the reams of results you get when you type something into a search engine. But be warned, with so much attention likely from users, we'll see another huge surge in advertising, and therefore ad revenue for the platform.

Until these developments hit, should you decide to unplug, and find yourself with a spare, golden, 50 minutes, you will just have to decide for yourself what to do with them.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS