Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » Will Facebook be relevant in 5 years?



My teenage children tell me Facebook is no longer the place to be. Old people like me have spoiled the fun.

I imagine that's why Facebook announced last week that it was jazzing up its look. Anyone remember Friendster or Myspace?

If the fickle younger generation decides to satisfy its social media appetite elsewhere, Facebook could become a virtual wasteland, as hard as that seems to believe in 2013 when it has 1 billion users. In my losing struggle to stay hip, I watch the online habits of my daughter and her friends, who spend a lot of time these days on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. Of course, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, so the social media giant may stay relevant by assimilating the competition.

As Mark Twain and others have said, the problem with predictions is they involve the future. When a young college student told me in 2005 to join Facebook, I was even studying the digital future of newspapers as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. Yet, I couldn't see what Facebook would become today, so I definitely don't pretend to know what will be hot in social media or anything else in 2018. Facebook in 2005 struck me as just another MySpace with no one I knew signed up for it.

I have a history of missing the next big thing. When I was a cub reporter for the Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal in 1982, I wrote a story about a big store opening out on the highway, worrying downtown Holton merchants who feared it would put them out of business. My dad reminded me for years later that he wished he had bought stock then in the company I featured -- Wal-mart.

Sorry, Dad, I didn't see the investment opportunity either. While reporting the story, I did buy a cheap tennis racket at the Holton Walmart, though.

So don't ask me whether the Victoria Advocate will still be using Facebook commenting on our website in five years. For now, we're quite pleased with both the quantity and quality of the comments we've been getting since we integrated Facebook last summer.

We get more online reader participation than ever, such as from a Facebook friend who provided the terrific fire photo (shown above) we used on Wednesday's front page. In addition, we almost don't have to moderate the comments at all when this used to be a time-consuming and frustrating process with anonymous posts.

I just wish I had the vision to see Facebook's potential back in 2005. What do you think will be the next big thing in 2018?