Facebook thinks its site will be 'all video' within five years

Posted Jun 16, 2016 by James Walker
A Facebook executive has made some bold predictions for the future of the social network. The site expects to be "all video" within the next five years as people reduce their reliance on text and move towards more visual ways of expressing themselves.
Screenshot of video demo of new Facebook Reactions buttons  posted by Facebook engineer Chris Cox
Screenshot of video demo of new Facebook Reactions buttons, posted by Facebook engineer Chris Cox
Chris Cox, Facebook
Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president for Facebook in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, made the comments while discussing the future of the tech company with Fortune. Mendelsohn said Facebook will "definitely" be mobile within the next five years and will probably be "all video" too.
Facebook is aggressively increasing the number of ways users can add video to the site. One hundred million hours are now consumed every day, increasing daily views from 1 billion to 8 billion in just the past year. This contrasts with traditional textual status updates which are seeing year-on-year declines.
"If I was having a bet, it'd be video, video, video," Mendelsohn said. The executive explained how she sees video as "the best way to tell stories in this world," noting they can help people condense information into much more digestible facts than text can allow.
Mendelsohn said video is itself is undergoing a change. People engage more with livestreams than pre-recorded clips and are 10 times more likely to comment on a user's live video. She admitted that Facebook Live, the company's own personal livestreaming feature, has become a "bigger, faster phenomenon" than Facebook had anticipated.
However, the transition to a platform built on video has a few obstacles to overcome yet. For many users, video remains an inaccessible luxury. Bandwidth-heavy and difficult to consume without a fast Internet connection, pushing video out too early could drive people on slow Internet connections and capped data plans away from the platform entirely.
This issue will be especially important in emerging markets where high-speed Internet connections can be scarce. Text posts can load in an instant and images only a few seconds later. Having to wait for video to buffer removes the element of speed that Mendelsohn highlighted though, making the social network harder to use for these people.
It is also unlikely that all of Facebook's users will be willing to make the transition towards posting video content. Different people use the site in different ways and some kinds of content won't necessarily translate well to the newer medium.
Facebook is already emphasising videos over written status updates by algorithmically promoting them in the news feed. It has also disabled sending messages from its main website, forcing users to install the Messenger app and further removing text from the core social network.
Whether text is naturally in decline on Facebook or is a phenomena of the company's own creation remains a point of contention. According to Mendelsohn, the move to video has been driven by entirely natural factors that the company has moved to capitalise on. The video-first algorithm was apparently a response to user activity, rather than a push to get people to use new features like Facebook Live.