Facebook Announces The End of Written Words

June 22, 2016
Behold people! The world of words is coming to an end!

In five years time Facebook “will be definitely mobile, it will be probably all video” said Nicola Mendelsohn, who heads up Facebook’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at a conference in London this morning. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has already noted that video will be more and more important for the platform. But Mendelsohn went further, suggesting that stats showed the written word becoming all but obsolete, replaced by moving images and speech.
The best way to tell stories in this world, where so much information is coming at us, actually is video,” Mendelsohn said. “It conveys so much more information in a much quicker period. So actually the trend helps us to digest much more information.” (Source)

Is Facebook predicting the end of writing, for real?

Let’s play it down for a sec. Facebook Top Management isn’t predicting the end of writing. It is predicting the end of writing words ON Facebook.

Mendelsohn’s prediction appears to be based on stats (meaning actual people’s behaviors): people share more and more videos, consequence of which, one day, Facebook will probably become all video.

It’s a fact that people do share lots of videos on Facebook. But the vast majority of videos I see on my timeline are 3rd parties’: videos of the stuff people love or make them laugh, or of the causes they support...

When telling their story, people use the most convenient medium, depending of the situation and the tools that are available: video, pictures, selfies, emojis, and of course writings. Not just one or the other.

Could the platform really become “all video” in five years time? Is it really a trend? An actual evolution of people behavior?


The more people spend time on Facebook, the more Facebook generates revenue. Boredom is what drives people to Facebook. Video is direct and powerful; it’s a hook that makes people stick on Facebook longer (thank you autoplay!), generating more likes, more shares and finally — more revenue.

On the other hand, the personal content people post on Facebook (newborn, holidays, family reunion) has many limitations: it is less certain, less captivating and less addictive. It will be seen by a limited number of relatives that will eventually Like and Comment — but won’t share it.

Video content that is massively shared is a greater opportunity for Facebook: because they create loops that keep their users engaged and drive revenue from advertising.

The end of written words is not a Prediction. It’s a Strategy.

If Facebook was to become a “video platform”, it would be the result of a corporate strategy more than a natural trend of a world going all video. All this for the benefit of a more efficient and lucrative loop that is video.

Writings will never disappear. Medium for instance, is actually doing pretty well with writings, don’t you think? Because Medium’s loop is to make it painless for people to read and to write. And it works.

By making it better / easier / faster to consume videos, Facebook would basically make it harder for people to read. Words would be hidden in a sea of more attractive videos. And eventually, people will then stop writing thus completing the prophecy. Not because video is better. But rather because, what’s the point of writing words if people don’t actually see it?

I’m just saying…

I am probably speculating too much on some random comments taken out of context. But with Facebook now in its second decade of existence and with a more precise business model; who knows what it will be like in 5 or 10 years from now? It has changed a lot: it is already less intimate and personal than before, with people legitimately controlling their image and brand advertising. To some extent, our Timelines are now filled with all sorts of curated propaganda.

Facebook is an amazing social network that links people together. It’s a place where people can express themselves and tell ACTUAL stories: their own! With words, emojis, pictures & videos...

But if Facebook was to become all video, what stories would be told on Facebook? Would people lose interest and disengage from a platform that was created to connect people together rather than just sharing viral videos?

Arnaud Bressier

Father of two and co-founder of Kumbu. I am passionate about travel, music, food & natural wine !

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