By: Edith Allen
Are Facebook users growing tired of ugly pet and dinner pictures? Is the latest bathroom self portrait the last straw for some people? Something is wrong because the social networking platform has lost millions of users every month for the past six months. The losses are happening in Facebook‘s biggest markets and in developed countries according to analysis firm SocialBakers. Facebook lost six million US visitors, which is a four percent drop. 1.4 million fewer users logged in from the UK. This was a 4.5 percent drop. An April 28 UK Guardian article says that losses have been going on for six months, with a total of almost 9 million fewer visitors a month in the US and two million a month in the UK. Subscribers also dropped out in Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan.
Actually the news is not all bad since Facebook has a growing audience in developing nations. Facebook’s South American audience grew by six percent to 70 million. Its Indian audience grew by four percent to 64 million.
Visitors also shortened their stay at Facebook. The average visit was 121 minutes long in December 2012. The duration dropped to 115 minutes in February. Desktop access is down now that users are switching to tablets and mobile devices. The problem is that growth in mobile and tablet access was not enough to make up for the PC losses.
Where are Facebook users going? Instagram is one alternative web destination. Path is a mobile message sharing destination where users share text, voice, location, photos, stickers and more. Path also allows users to share with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Tumblr.
In the end, Facebook is the source of its own mature market problems. With no remorse over privacy invasions, unwanted page changes, annoying features and intrusive advertising, it may be that users have grown tired of dealing with Facebook.
"With no remorse over privacy invasions, unwanted page changes, annoying features and intrusive advertising, it may be that users have grown tired of dealing with Facebook." ---- no doubt!!!
In the meantime, we've asked Guardian and Guardian US Facebook readers why they think users are spending less time on Facebook – or why they might be spending more. Here are some comments from the first hour, and we'll add more as the day goes on – you can add your thoughts to the Facebook thread here.
Craig Kanalley: 'Nope, more time'
It's an interesting study, but I just don't think it reflects everyone. For many, Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, and I don't see how that has changed. If anything, some of the design tweak and mobile upgrades have made Facebook better. But that's just my opinion.
Rita Chakrabarti: 'Privacy comes up, but it's not the main issue'
I've seen both phenomenons within my friends/family circle. When I ask why to those spending less time, privacy comes up, but it's not the main issue. The best answer I've got is that FB is superficial and does not lend itself to deeper relationships, which is much better done in person. But, like Craig, I find it a great way to stay in touch. And with subscribing to news, information and entertainment pages, it's a great way to stay on top of that as well.
Fleur Defries Marais: 'It's too gimmicky'
Because it's too gimmicky, and feels more and more like I'm being advertised to, and less like I'm catching up with old friends and acquaintances – which is the only thing I really liked about in the first place.
Ryan Garry:'Too much fighting'
Too much fighting about the last election. Obama won. Get over it!
Jessica Hackney Williams: 'It's boring now'
The main problem with Facebook is it's boring now. The model limits what content you're able to recieve from others, and now seeks to impose advertising on those who are already considering jumping ship. It's no longer a place where you can keep up with what's going on with your friends and family – it's a place where business can farm your information from. And with the continuous changes, who wants to bother trying to sort out a new layout every six months?
Christine Clifford: 'Hardly surprising'
Well: unwanted advertising, perceived political interference in campaign pages, lack of action on racist and sexist pages. Poor and confusing privacy and content rights. Hardly surprising.
Paul Farrant: 'It's like having to have a conversation in a pub but being forced to use megaphones'
While I love how it lets me keep in touch with people, I despise how it notifies people with whom I have a friendship about things I say to completely unrelated friends on their walls. It's like having to have a conversation in a pub but being forced to use megaphones - or having the bar staff go around with a dictaphone to replay conversations to others. Yes it's a public forum and in theory anyone nearby can hear unless you intentionally whisper, but you shouldn't have to expect it to be broadcast as widely as possible.
My settings are very strict, I have lists to communicate only with who I choose to at any given time on my timeline, but the moment I stray and make a comment elsewhere, this become an irrelevance and Facebook can share it (pretty much) however they please.
Tom Watson: ' I never use it for more than 2 hours a day, and that is pushing it'
I think I use it more, but I never use it for more than 2 hours a day, and that is pushing it. I have no urgency to visit Facebook but I use it to read news from pages like this and to see posts from pages related to my interests! Friends don't tend to post much, so if it were for friends I would use it a lot less because they do! I'm not fussed about privacy, anything I want private I say somewhat anonymously via Twitter, or don't say at all.