Facebook is an “uncool uncle” suffering from a “mid-life crisis” according to a new report which asked social media users to characterise different platforms.
Participants were asked how they would describe a range of frequently used social networks - including Mark Zuckerberg’s social network, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat.
None of the platforms, apart from Whatsapp, were described in particularly flattering terms, but Facebook had by far the worst verdict being described as: ego-centric, uncool uncle, mid-life crisis and social butterfly.
The report was conducted by analysts at Kantar Media for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University.
Facebook – multi-faceted, adaptive, ego-centric, social butterfly, uncool uncle, mid-life crisis, clean, professional, generic.
Twitter - loud, doesn’t stop talking, loose, messy, celebrities, niche.
WhatsApp – best friend, sociable, fun, brings people together, straightforward, honest, reliable, faithful, discrete, nimble, agile, dynamic, current.
Facebook Messenger – Facebook’s little sister/brother, ‘wannabe’, clingy, needy, irritating, inferior, boring old lady, inconsistent, if not got WhatsApp.
Instagram – glamorous, model, vibrant, showy, vain, show-off, open-minded, stalker.
Snapchat – young, childish, impulsive, pretentious, artificial, distant.
One study participant, a British woman in her twenties, offered some insight into Facebook’s lack of popularity: “Facebook was very trendy and fashionable when I was younger and now I think that other things have taken over.”
Another, a British man in his twenties agreed: “People are very busy and you don’t have time to look down your Facebook feed and sift through the rubbish.”
The study authors said it was “perhaps unsurprising” to find these results, and that while Facebook and Twitter work better for news discovery, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are more suited to discussion and sharing.
No matter what your personal preference the findings speak volumes to the platform owners, especially Zuckerberg and his team who seem to be suffering from damaged public confidence after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The report found people are less willing to post articles on Facebook because they believe that the social network has become an “exposed, toxic and unpleasant environment”.
Facebook is also perceived as too visible, with users saying there were reluctant to post anything controversial for fear of being judged or misunderstood.
Although given Zuckerberg also owns private messaging app Whatsapp, which fared well in the testing, perhaps he doesn’t have too much to worry about.