Silver Chips Online

Facebook's expanding horizons

Social media giant looks to other markets to stay relevant

By Kalin Vassilev, Technical Staff
October 29, 2014
When in the business of technological development constant expansion into new territories is a must; otherwise you're bound to fade. Facebook, the premier social-networking juggernaut, has found itself on rough times as other social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram have drawn away users. To keep itself competitive, Facebook has started moving in the direction of health management, following trends set by fellow tech conglomerates like Google and Apple. As a contrast to competitors' wearable fitness trackers and habit managing apps, Facebook is keeping with its roots and focusing on creating support groups in its already enormous community as well as introducing preventive care apps to improve lifestyles. Additionally, it recently revealed an initiative to pay when female employees want to freeze their eggs. This showcases a cultural shift for the company’s health policies; a move towards involvement.

This move may seem a bit unexpected, but it is by no means a shot in the dark by Facebook executives. In 2012, the site introduced its "organ-donor status initiative," which became a huge success. It allowed members to specify their organ-donor status and was met with enthusiasm as many new organ donors signed up in the United States. There has also been a trend among users with chronic illnesses such as diabetes to seek out others who share their afflictions for support and advice. Facebook is playing off these developments to try and expand into relatively unknown but potentially profitable territory.

Though the change is an exciting prospect, it does bring to mind some worries concerning privacy policies. The services which Facebook is suggesting would require people to share a great deal of personal information. People might not like the idea of having this information available to advertisers, pharmaceutical companies and other users. That said, due to Facebook relaxing policies on having your legal name, users could easily allow themselves anonymity by using an alias. Facebook has also indicated that it would probably release this new venture completely separate from its main site and under a different name, which would limit the traffic of unwanted viewers.

Introducing health management is undoubtedly a business play to draw in more users; Facebook is making a very calculated move to broaden its horizons. As is with all new developments in the sphere of social networking, potential users should be wary of any privacy concerns and weigh their decisions accordingly. But Facebook is still in the planning and idea stage of development, which means that the final product could be drastically different from current visions. Soon enough though, Facebook might find itself as a prominent forum for discussion of illness and how to cope with it, something which has the potential to improve lives.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/12697