For many, Facebook has lost its appeal in recent times. Part of the reason for that is because everyone is on it – including your parents, grandparents, long-lost school friends, etc. With everyone on there, posting about every other thing, it can feel less personal, which may stop you from sharing the things that you might on other apps.
But what if you could have various Facebook identities, with separate profiles to interact with different elements of the platform?
That’s what Facebook’s experimenting with, with users potentially able to create up to 5 separate profiles all tied back to one master account.
As reported by Bloomberg:
“Meta will start letting users create multiple profiles with their Facebook accounts, the company’s latest attempt to encourage posting and sharing on its social network. As part of a test, certain Facebook members will be able to create as many as four additional profiles, and each one won’t need to include a person’s real name or identity.”
So, theoretically, you might have one Facebook identity that you use to interact with friends, then another for co-workers. Each of these facets would come with its own News Feed, providing a new way to interact within different elements, without having to share everything with every one of your connections.
Which is kind of like Groups, which has become a key focus element for Facebook of late. As more users have become more wary about sharing everything to their main feed, groups have provided an alternative, enabling people to interact with more niche interests, without worrying about being judged by peers, or annoying people with their thoughts on politics, sports, etc.
Which seems to be the real focus here. Last February, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that a common note of feedback that Facebook execs hear is that people don’t want political content to take over their News Feed. Increasing political division has infected Facebook, arguably more so than other apps, which may be due to the breadth of Facebook’s user base, which means that older, more traditional perspectives are clashing with younger audiences in the app.
That, as Zuckerberg notes, has become a point of angst for many, and maybe, by enabling people to create alternate profiles, for different audiences, that could free people up to discuss what they like within different groups, without fearing judgment or criticism – and indeed, argument – for such.
The concept also leans into future metaverse use, with Meta also looking to create variable avatars for the evolving digital space.
Zuckerberg also recently discussed alternative use cases for different kinds of avatars, with more true-to-life 3D depictions of yourself for, say, work meetings and professional applications, and cartoonish avatar characters for your day-to-day interaction in the space.
In this sense, Facebook’s alternative profile options could be a precursor to the next stage, where you’ll have different avatar characters to engage within different elements - so it’s not only focused on improving engagement right now, but also on training users to get more accustomed to showing different sides of themselves within different elements.
It could make sense, but then again, do people really want to create alternative profiles within Facebook?
I agree with the concept, and that it would have been valuable at some stage. But now, it feels like most people have established what Facebook is, and what it isn’t, and they use other apps, for the most part, to express different sides of their personality.
In this sense, I’m not sure that many people will be rushing to set up alternative profiles on Facebook to connect with different groups. It’s a good idea, but maybe too late – but then again, maybe if Facebook were to have alternative, swipeable news feeds, all catered to different elements of your life, that could have unique value and application.
Then again, Facebook has tried this before, with alternative, topic based News Feeds in the app.
That didn’t work, largely because the topic feeds were a mess, with junk, spam and repeated posts taking up too much space in each element.
Maybe, then, wholly dedicated, personalized News Feeds, aligned with aspects of your personality, will be better suited, and maybe, if Facebook does go ahead with the project, it could be a thing,
We’ll have to wait and see what Zuck and Co. have planned – but the concept once again underlines how Meta is looking to re-think its once flagship app, in a bid to maintain relevance.