Will Facebook survive past 2008?

Facebook is the Internet’s current darling. Everywhere you go people are talking about it, about how they’re finding long lost friends and getting back in touch with family around the world. Practically everyone I know has a Facebook presence, including some in Third World countries where good Internet access is sporadic at the best of times. Facebook has taken the world by storm; But is the storm about to pass?

What is the appeal of Facebook? The primary pull must be the ability to find and re-connect with long lost acquaintances, be they family, friends or work-mates. It’s easy to keep track of what everyone is doing and to drop in a comment or two on their ‘wall’. Why bother with email addresses when you can compose and send a message from within Facebook itself? Create and update your photo gallery and let your ‘friends’ see them and comment on photos. Use one of the thousand applications to interact: play a game of Mafia or Scrabulous or ‘bite’ a friend as a Vampire or Werewolf. Send a friend a ‘drink’. Join a group, or groups, that match your interests. There are a lot ways to interact with your ‘friends’ on Facebook. As viral ideas go, this social network is king at making them work.

But the question is: What real value does it bring in the long term? After the initial buzz of spending hours and hours doing, and let’s be honest here, pretty much nothing that has added value to one’s life, what next? Will there be another web site that can offer the same ideas and more? Of course there will be. That’s the nature of the Internet. It’s ever changing, like the ocean, and the next tide will bring a new social network that does much of the same and much much more. Users will slowly start to migrate away from Facebook to the newest, best social network of the moment and take their ‘friends’ with them.

This won’t take long to happen. As it stands, access to Facebook has been banned by various government agencies in the UK, US and Canada as well as by numerous private corporations worldwide. Employees were beginning to spend thousands of work-hours on the site costing everyone millions. However, work is where most people get their always-on Internet access, so all those thousands of workers will be looking out for a new network or site that hasn’t yet been picked up by the IT department. So, how long can Facebook survive as-is? If it is to make it past the next tide it needs to change what it offers to the users. Add more value so even government agencies and corporations can reap some benefit of having their workers spend time on it.

Do you belong to another social network that offers more value than Facebook? Disagree with my thoughts? Tell us about it below.