For the past few months, Facebook has been charting what appears to be a serious decline in original sharing on its platform; Now the company is turning to its users to find out why they’re no longer sharing as much as they once did.
Facebook has recently begun surveying its users about their motivations for sharing things about their personal lives, and where else they might be sharing such information if not to Facebook. Multiple reports last month declared that the volume of "original sharing" — i.e. content people post on their own instead of simply regurgitating others' via the 'share' button — is falling on Facebook.
Original sharing is a serious issue for Facebook since its core product, News Feed, literally runs on the content published to it. If people post less there, it opens up the door to social competitors to flank the company.
Not surprisingly, Snapchat was prominently listed as an alternative posting destination. The threshold to post is much lower on Snapchat thanks its disappearing content feature.
Here's the full survey along with a bit of commentary:
Question 1: Would you post something like this now?
Facebook didn't pick a popular post for this survey, or even a particularly interesting one. Instead, it chose a low-effort post I dropped on a friend's wall for his birthday. Whenever I visit Facebook's 'On This Day' feature, I'm reminded of how often I used to post these simple one-liners (and not just for special occasions). Now, I'm careful to only post when I've got something good. So it's no surprise Facebook chose to query me about a post like this.
Question 2: But why?
I answered that I would share a similar post now — after all, it was a birthday wish. But Facebook is gathering qualitative feedback to help it understand why we do what we do.
Question 3: Do you even SnapChat, bro?
Look at Snapchat. It's number 2 on the list here just behind Instagram. That's above Facebook's giant messaging products WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Tells you all you need to know.
Question 4: Pick a category, any category
A question like this could be useful in determining what type of stuff people like to share. Facebook has recently been prompting users to share updates about the latest sports game or holidays. Data gathered from surveys like this one could be used to inform those prompts.
Question 5: Has your original sharing level declined?
The money question.
Question 6: A deeper look into your motivation
This question seems to be probing possible motivations for sharing less. Do we no longer want to post sad things? Or is it that we're less comfortable sharing personal information on the network. Or both?
And a thank you
Facebook had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.
Alex Kantrowitz is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on social and communications.
Contact Alex Kantrowitz at email@example.com.
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