Is this the beginning of the fall of Facebook? After announcing disappointing numbers for the second quarter on Wednesday, Facebook’s stock price plunged more than 20 percent in after-hours trading.
If that decline holds on Thursday, it will be the biggest stock price drop in Facebook’s entire history. But the truth is that we will probably see the stock price bounce back a bit, because Wednesday’s crash was almost certainly an overreaction. Unlike many other tech companies, Facebook is still making lots of money, and the number of users globally is still growing. However, there are definitely some huge red flags. In the U.S. and Canada the number of users is stagnant, and in Europe the number of users is actually declining. Facebook’s user base is aging as many young people abandon the platform for trendier alternatives, and there is a growing backlash among conservatives against the tremendous censorship that we have seen in recent months. People are hungry for an alternative, and if something more appealing comes along Facebook could ultimately suffer the same fate as MySpace very rapidly.
Stock prices tend to fall a lot faster than they go up, but what happened to Facebook on Wednesday was truly breathtaking…
Facebook lost about $130 billion in market value in just two hours, its steepest stock decline ever, after warning of slowing sales growth.
The stock, which plunged as much as 24% in after-hours trading Wednesday, had a cascading effect on competitors Snap and Twitter, which dropped, too. Traders are bracing for a decline in tech stocks when the markets open Thursday.
130 billion dollars in just two hours?
In 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been selling Facebook stock like crazy, and that is probably a good thing because his remaining holdings declined by 16.8 billion dollars during the crash. If the stock price does not bounce back, Zuckerberg will slip all the way from third place to sixth place on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
He won’t exactly be hurting, but this shows us how fast things can start to move once investors begin to panic.
So exactly why did Facebook’s stock crash on Wednesday? Well, it turns out that revenue growth and user growth were lower than expected…
The problem: weaker-than-expected revenue growth, Facebook’s first such miss since 2015. It recorded sales of $13.23 billion for the three months ended in June, short of the $13.3 billion Wall Street anticipated.
Also alarming to investors: Facebook’s growth is slowing with users in some of its most lucrative markets. Facebook reported its slowest growth rate ever, with 2.23 billion people logging in at least once a month in June, below the 2.25 billion analysts expected.
In addition to the factors that I mentioned above, Europe’s new privacy law and the Cambridge Analytica scandal are really taking a toll…
The second-quarter results were the first sign that a new European privacy law and a succession of privacy scandals involving Cambridge Analytica and other app developers have bit into Facebook’s business. The company further warned that the toll would not be offset by revenue growth from emerging markets and Facebook’s Instagram app, which has been more immune from privacy concerns.
Ultimately, the adjustment to Europe’s new privacy law and the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal are just temporary.
Facebook should be much more concerned about the fact that conservatives are getting completely fed up with the rampant censorship on the platform. During a media event on Wednesday, Facebook executives openly admitted that they are limiting distribution of certain viewpoints…
The kerfuffle started when Fidji Simo, Facebook’s vice president of video, was asked about Infowars stories on their platform while touting new Facebook Watch entertainment shows.
“To be totally transparent, I find Infowars to be absolutely atrocious,” Simo replied. “That being said, we have the hard job of balancing freedom of expression and safety. So the way we navigate that is we think there’s a pretty big difference between what is allowed on Facebook and what gets distribution. So what we’re trying to do is make it so that if you are saying something that’s untrue on Facebook — you’re allowed to say it as long as you’re an authentic person and you adhere to our community standards — but we’re trying to make it so it doesn’t get that much distribution .… We don’t always get it right, as you can imagine, it’s very complicated, but that’s sort of our principle for dealing with information.”
We are in the midst of the greatest purge of anti-establishment voices in Internet history, and Facebook is leading the charge. More accounts are being “shadowbanned” or terminated completely on a daily basis, and conservatives just keep getting angrier and angrier at Facebook.
For now, most conservatives continue to use Facebook. Like a lot of other people, I use it simply because it seems like everyone else is using it.
But eventually a more appealing alternative is going to come along.
Before Facebook, MySpace seemed like it was so dominant that nobody could ever compete with it. But of course Facebook ultimately crushed MySpace, and now MySpace is barely surviving.
In addition to a potentially enormous conservative backlash, Facebook should be deeply alarmed that young people are abandoning the platform in massive numbers…
Teenagers have abandoned Facebook in favour of other social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.
Just 51% of US individuals aged 13 to 17 say they use Facebook – a dramatic plunge from the 71% who said they used the social network in Pew’s previous study in 2015, when it was the dominant online platform.
We may very well look back someday and identify 2018 as the turning point for Facebook.
For now it is considered to be worth more than 600 billion dollars, but that market price won’t last forever.
One of these days a new and better competitor will arise, and Facebook will be consigned to the trash heap of history.
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