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Saturday, January 28, 2023

We all mourned the death of Vine. At its peak, the social network reached 40 million registered users in 2013. When it died in early 2017, the world was in shock. How could such a popular site end so quickly? The answer is actually quite simple and ruins most of the good things in our lives: corporate greed.

It’s hard to believe that social media outlets compete for users. Our parents use Facebook, we rely on Twitter for news updates and we can count on Instagram to ruin our self images. Although its uses can become intertwined, no social media site should stress too much about losing its users to competitors. Facebook especially has no reason to compete, as it’s the most used social media site in the world.

And yet, it seems like Facebook disagrees with this fact.  

Facebook doesn’t want anyone catching up to it. When Vine was first launched, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made sure people could not use a friend-finding feature that would introduce more people to the app. Although this is not the primary reason Twitter shut down Vine, it certainly contributed to hindering Vine’s growth. Ironically, Facebook seems to have some issues with being friendly.

Snapchat seems to be suffering a similar fate. The aggression seems to be more personal this time, as it directly attacks the main aspect of Snapchat: stories. At first, Facebook tried to make several copycats to beat Snapchat, but they all mostly failed. Eventually, Facebook even tried to buy Snapchat in 2013 for $3 billion. Of course Snapchat refused, but the company didn’t expect the harsh repercussions resulting from that standoff, or from Facebook owning Instagram.

Instagram stories are beating Snapchat stories. 

When Instagram stories first came out, many people didn’t see the point because Snapchat already existed. However, users (myself included) quickly found the appeal. According to CNN Business, Instagram stories are twice as popular as Snapchat’s and show no sign of slowing down. In fact, within eight months of launching, Instagram stories passed Snapchat in its number of daily users. And because of this, Snapchat has begun to lose users for the first time.

However, unlike Vine, Snapchat seems to be fighting back. It recently released Facebook’s aggressive tactics in a dossier called Project Voldemort: a very fitting name for a very dark company. It details how Facebook threatened to undermine Snapchat’s business through tactics like preventing content from trending on its app. This document is one of the major tools provided to the Federal Trade Commission to analyze Facebook’s aggressive growth and further their antitrust investigation. It seems like Facebook might be in a bit of trouble. 

However, this is a completely orthodox business practice. Competitors always try to find ways to compete with each other. Whether it be adding new items to match each other or ad campaigns that insult one another, there is always competition going on. In fact, people should be concerned if there is no competition in the future because that would suggest the start of a monopoly, kind of like what Facebook is trying to do. 

Facebook shouldn’t be allowed to do this, and it's our responsibility as consumers to call them out on it, even if it turns our parents against us. 

The Editorial Board consists of Zora Viel, Opinions Editor; Amanda Rosa, Editor-in Chief; Kelly Hayes, Digital Managing Editor; and Tranelle Maner, Engagement Managing Editor.

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