Snapchat unbundled Facebook, but will anonymous IDs supplant Snapchat?
Snapchat modularized one of Facebook’s jobs-to-be-done, but anonymity can do the same to Snap if someone can crack the abuse nut
I think I remember reading your original post, and it’s even more interesting given the developments over the past year…
Cyberbullying is the biggest hindrance blocking a return to the age of anonymous. That’s worth discussing more in depth, because you’re right, the marketplace is being naturally drawn back toward anonymous.
Anonymous apps today have an abuse problem, which, at very least, destroys an app’s signal-to-noise ratio. Before the internet was so ubiquitous — back in the message board days — users were a small sample of early adopters with generally altruistic motivations. But now, we have a majority of society online, and that representative sample comes with its share of abusers, whose barks are very loud and tend to bite.
Facebook sidestepped a lot of that because it structurally owns its users’ true identities. (Of course, Facebook is increasingly susceptible to mob-like behavior and amplifying radical minority sects — particularly since it keeps lowering the barrier-to-entry for new users and Pages.) For Facebook’s competitive dynamics, the downside to date has been people obsessing over projecting their perfect selves. Such heavy curation adds so much friction to engagement. That’s manifest in the demise of “original,” user-generated content (-15% yoy) on the FB platform, which has succumbed to a preponderance of third-party content sharing (e.g. links to news).
Overall, Facebook engagement has surged despite this shift in mix, but the collapse in personal sharing has triggered an internal crisis at FB. After all, it’s not only a sign of the platform’s competitive vulnerability, but also an involuntary departure from its identity as a forum for social interaction — connecting people.
Live Video is an attempt to address this problem, recapturing users’ social interactions. I happen to think Facebook Live will be a smash hit if correctly implemented — although it’s not on the right path right now — but it will likely carve out its own niche more than it will annex Snapchat’s. (FB likely intends to accomplish the latter.)
For a moment, let’s return to the logic about friction: Because ephemeral engenders a more informal air, FB posts’ permanence means the platform will lose a head-to-head matchup on Snapchat’s turf. (Crucially, Snapchat was likely the first competitor to modularize Facebook.)
Furthermore, you’ve added another dimension to this dynamic: the identity/anonymity dualism. Incorporating this into our logic, “anonymous + ephemeral” is the ultimate format, because it’s as frictionless as possible. It’s even lower friction than an actual social interaction, where our words are gone-with-the-wind.
There’s gold-in-them-hills if someone can crack the abuse conundrum. (But that’s a big “if”!)
Of course, the free and open web is prone to beg, borrow, and steal your attention. Reading blogs, news, and research has always been an inefficient user experience — like finding needles in haystacks — but now Annotote is the antidote, so check it out: Don’t waste time or attention; get straight to the point.