As I type this Facebook has got issues with comments not showing for most people and other issues. This is just one example of how social media is managing to lose it’s shine and whilst imho social media has already had it’s golden era! *edit comments are now working again*
During 2023 there was a big shift in social media for many people. The increasing cost of servers and just general rise in living costs has had an effect with the large goliaths in the social media space all looking to cut costs (sacking thousands or if you are Elon Musk randomly sacking anybody you take a dislike to) meaning that the whole social media “business” has changed for ever. Take Facebook, for example, whilst using the app ads and sponsored posts now far outnumber posts from your friends and groups/pages and make the whole experience vastly reduced in functionality. This has resulted in less engagement and certainly less visibility and interaction overall. Youtube had it’s little war with adblockers and in fact Chrome and Chromium browsers are going to actually make google much easier able to track you and show you ads than ever before. X/Twitter has descended into anarchy with the rules changing on a minute by minute bais but if you pay a monthly subscription then you can effectively do what you want! The simple fact is that if you want to see just what you want, and have effective control over your social media experience then you are going to have to pay for that experience moving forward. And even then, you will still be at the mercy of the data collection and other shenanigans of the large giants because they will continue to bend or break the rules to see fit, all in the name of profit as they all need to turn a profit, and that profit is getting harder and harder to come by as the weeks go on as ad revenues fall and costs rise. This ends up with more ads which means less engagement and revenues fall, and the vicious circle keeps on going…. This circle was what prompted youtube to try and block adblockers (how many ads can an adblocker block if youtube blocks adblockers)
So what do I see as the future then? Well “niche” social media platforms like Mastodon and other activitypub based solutions will continue to rise, but they have a long way to go to rival the old monolithic platforms. What I believe is that the sheer amount of differing platforms means that sooner or later people will have to choose just 1 platform or umbrella platform like, say, Meta, with Facebook and Instagram, and then pay to get that system of their choosing to work for themselves.
Many people will perhaps choose 1 and still not pay, but see a less than optimal experience and thus post or interact a lot less. The constant new platforms only dilutes the experience and this is where I think that activitypub has a chance, if not hijacked and ruined. The amount of hatred over Meta making Threads federate is a sure way of showing the hatred that company has already garnered with many…
So to end this shortish post, I see many things changing in 2024. Over on youtube plenty of big names are quitting or slowing down already this year as their revenues fall and the game gets harder and harder and I’m afraid this is basically how I see it. People will have to realise that for many, interactions likes and comments are going to drop from now on because that massive bubble that happened during lockdown around the world has totally burst. Being able to run your side hustle on social media is also going to end unless you pay for it. And eventually folks, free social media is going to be a whole different experience than it currently is.