Why Facebook faces the MySpace graveyard in Asia

In Indonesia – Southeast Asia’s largest financial system, with a inhabitants of 265 million – Facebook is confronted with an surprising lifeless finish. After 12 years of super-charged international development, the tech champion with a US$414 billion market cap that started life on college campuses has change into the social media of alternative for “old” folks.

Indeed, it seems to be shedding its attract amongst its core demographic: the younger, educated and upwardly cellular. In reality, many youthful customers have simply stopped logging in.

The motive? It’s easy. The “kids” apparently see Facebook as clunky and outdated. Its tiresome algorithms prioritise household and mates over extra fascinating content material.

Of course, there are nonetheless markets the place Facebook stays dominant. In Myanmar, some 91 per cent of web customers frequent the location. Whether this stage of penetration might be sustained as customers in Yangon, Mandalay and past change into extra refined is one other matter.

Elsewhere, Facebook’s well-publicised issues with knowledge safety and hate speech haven’t helped, however in a lot of Asean, such considerations have barely registered. Users in Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur have little thought in regards to the allegations towards Sheryl Sandberg of “lean in” fame. We are so used to hypocrites that we hardly discover.

Facebook’s actual drawback, nevertheless, is that it’s BORING.

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As I sat down for lunch again in December with a bunch of school college students from considered one of Indonesia’s premier tertiary establishments, Gadjah Mada University within the cultural capital of Yogyakarta, their views on Mark Zuckerberg’s start-up, turned life-style image, have been clear.

Rully Satria, a 20-year-old school pupil from Padang, considers Facebook passé: “I haven’t used it in a while. The times that I do – which are rare – I’ll check up on how my family [and] relatives have been doing.”


In Indonesia, 19- to 34-year-olds represent 50 per cent of all web customers. Most millennials, like Rully, have grown up with the web. However, in 2018, the most important variety of new Facebook customers have been aged between 45 to 55. Indeed, it has change into the area of millennials’ dad and mom and grandparents.

“Only my parents, aunts and uncles are still using it,” Rully provides.

Facebook is primarily a web-based platform, made for desktop customers. Newer social media functions are unique to smartphones, which require a distinct sort of fluency. And the extra advanced smartphone interface offers millennials with a blanket of safety.

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Once a bastion of free speech, current authorities and army intervention has additionally typically compelled Facebook to bend the knee, to the detriment of human rights.

In Vietnam, the restriction of “toxic” anti-government content material on the location has alienated activists and silenced free speech. Meanwhile Myanmar’s army, the Tatmadaw, has used pretend Facebook accounts to incite genocide towards the Muslim Rohingya.

In this age of mass knowledge harvesting, anonymity has change into a precedence for a lot of web customers. Reports linking Facebook with the controversial Cambridge Analytica have tarnished the location’s public picture.

The indisputable fact that Zuckerberg’s brainchild has been identified to promote private info to promoting corporations deepens the mistrust. On the opposite hand, Twitter and Instagram don’t depend on private info, giving a larger feeling of privateness.

“I don’t want them to know about my social life,” says Rully.

So, the place is everybody shifting to? In Indonesia, Instagram, LINE and Twitter are seen as rather more fashionable and streamlined. Moreover, many customers discover Facebook’s algorithms to be random and disjointed.

“Political figures and celebrities are also more active on Twitter. The 140-character limit makes posts a lot more readable,” says Probo, a 23-year-old current graduate.

LINE, the Japanese-owned messaging service, has change into immensely common in Thailand. LINE TODAY, its each day information platform, boasts a person base of nicely over 32 million within the Southeast Asian nation alone.

In distinction, Facebook’s “News Literacy” programme, launched final 12 months, hasn’t generated a lot pleasure.

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Rully, as an illustration, turns to Instagram for his each day information, “Tirto.id, Opini.id and Beritagar offer infographics which are more informative and interesting to me.”

Yet based on Adryz Ariffin, a social media advertising government primarily based in Southeast Asia, this shift away from Facebook hasn’t had an instantaneous affect on digital advertising. “Facebook still has the most returns and reach. For most Southeast Asians, it’s their first point of contact with the internet, ” he says.

Facebook and Google proceed to dominate internet marketing markets in Southeast Asia, of which “Indonesia is the biggest”, based on Adryz. “Vietnam and Myanmar are growing, but aren’t on the map yet,” he says.

Even Adryz concedes that he has left the platform and predicts that in 5 years or so, it’ll not be primary.

Maybe what we’re seeing isn’t a lot the “death” of Facebook as its dethronement. It was as soon as the king of social media. For some folks, it was social media again within the day.

But in most of Southeast Asia, that’s not the case. Can an outdated canine nonetheless study new tips? We’ll must see.

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