Facebook has three periods in my memory. The first one corresponds to the genuine posts of one’s own, whether texts or photos. The second was characterized by audiovisual productions of its users. The last one is representative of the immanent pattern of other social media such as Twitter and Tumblr.
To the former corresponds a pattern of publification, namely, transform private affairs to the public domain: here belongs the annoyance of many users by seeing what does not concern them particularly. The typical examples are the sharing of location and the complains against knowing if someone is in the toilet. The middler recalls a parallelism with the popularization and proliferation of other social networks and applications such as Vine, Soundcloud or Instagram, to which Facebook was a platform of diffusion; this could be said to be the period of direct democratic user production, of the prosumer. And through the latter I identify an indirect user production, as well as a semi return to the media that has been made official to some extent, meaning the news legitimized by who I will call the distribumer, someone who consumes and distributes other’s media creations.
While in the middle period the users consumed but also shared productions of their own, the last period is constituted by an indirect democratization. Facebook served as the mean to advertise emerging websites (dedicated to news, photography, audiovisuals, etc.). In other words, Facebook Subscribers are now predominantly sharing through their profiles whatever other Facebook pages or other websites (mostly in the form of news or blogs) post and share. In Tumblr is called reblogging; in Twitter it is called retweet, and is mainly used to share the original thoughts of a particular user.
In this line Facebook opened a road to media democratization, which had its peak during the second period through which social media users shared their products, but that found a decline with the concentration within the new production websites and Pages. Honestly, I believe the second period to be the richest in creativeness and imagination, all inspired by the new digital tools that enable people to use them as extensions of their minds, eyes and ears. As John Lasseter once stated, art challenges technology, and technology inspires art.
With exception of profile pictures and albums, today I struggle to find any glimpse of original creativeness seeded by users themselves. All I see is some king of extended oligopoly that sometimes excludes and sometimes includes the traditional media producers. By this token Facebook and other social media and apps where the disruption point that broke an existing equilibrium, rose it to a democratic climax, and descended to create a new equilibrium, more democratic than the previous, but less democratic than its transitional period.