Facebook is driven by relationships. Real relationships.
I say this to differentiate between the friends we have merely for stalkerish purposes, and those we meaningfully interact with. This differentiation is crucial to Facebook’s overall level of activity.
Take a look at your own wall and message feeds. We’re talking to the same people over, and over, and over again. For me, 99% of my Facebook activity is generated through interaction with ~15 of my 650 friends. I assume this is true for most other users.
In other words, 99% of the activity on Facebook – the stuff they track and use to create the products they sell to generate revenue – is caused by only a handful of existing “friend” relationships.
Taking the “average” Facebook user’s stat of 130 friends, we can guesstimate that the relationships with ~10% of a given user’s friends generate 99% of their activity.
So, want to kill Facebook? Steal the relationships.
Take the relationships and you take the meaningful activity. Take the activity and you’re left with ineffective advertising products. These no one wants to buy, and so revenue nosedives.
Google realized this with their launch of G+, but I’m not sure to what extent. If they’d been truly serious about beating Facebook they’d have had the balls to focus on the human bonds involved. Instead, they released a social network that is arguably just another suite of productivity tools.
I want to see something limit friends to friends. Force me to do it, for I – and countless others – are not strong enough on our own. Make 25 or 50 relationships the maximum. Then let something grow that’s build on positive emotion, rather than stalkerish he-said-she-said anxiety.
By nature we operate in small groups and are extremely selective of who we grant trust to. It’d be fantastic to experience a web app that forced us to be as candid online, as we are organically in person.