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article imageOp-Ed: Is the UK suffering from Facebook fatigue?

By Robert Myles     Jan 15, 2013 in Internet
It may be too early to tell but figures published yesterday on social media research site Socialbakers, show a degree of Facebook fatigue in the UK. The number of British Facebook users fell by over half a million in the month of December 2012.
According to a report in The Guardian, the UK started unliking Facebook in December to the extent of around 600,000 users, a decline of 1.86%. Despite that, Facebook remains by far the most popular social media platform in the UK with around 32.8 million users, easily more than half the UK population, bearing in mind that under 13 year olds are not supposed to have Facebook accounts.
The decline in Facebook users in the UK was the most marked amongst countries in the developed world but today the Socialbakers stats also showed that Facebook numbers declined in the US to the extent of 668,740 users ( 0.4%) and in Canada, where numbers fell 246,960 (1.35%). Socialbakers was also showing further declines in the monthly numbers of UK Facebook users as at today’s date with the stats recording a fall of 946,120 (2.88%) over the last rolling one month period.
Facebook has certainly had a bad press recently. The whole Instagram ‘will it, won’t it?’ saga over users’ copyright on photos submitted using the now Facebook owned Instagram app can’t have won Facebook many friends. The whys and wherefores may have been over the heads of the average Facebook user, but the Instagram incident will have caused many, more savvy Facebook users to pause for thought.
That came on top of regular stories concerning privacy of user information on Facebook — whether users being unwittingly tagged in photos or yet another change in privacy settings. Each Facebook privacy change may be commendable and well meaning in itself, but the cumulative effect of such changes on the population at large, who may only read yet another Facebook headline, will cause non-Facebook users to ask, ‘Is it worth it?’ whilst some existing Facebook users will decide they just cannot be bothered figuring out Byzantine Facebook privacy settings yet again and will simply delete their accounts.
Writing in a blogpost, Socialbakers’ CEO Jan Rezab sought to put some perspective on the UK Facebook numbers. He highlighted:
• More than 50% of UK's entire population is on Facebook
• Under 13s, who comprise 15% of the UK population are “not allowed” on Facebook
• Oldies over 65 comprise 16.5% of people in UK. Such users are not typically on Facebook with a mere 4% of that demographic estimated to be Facebook users.
Rezab says that, taking these figures into account, Facebook has, to all intents and purposes, achieved full market penetration in the UK meaning that exponential growth in user numbers, at least in the UK, is over.
Figures for the coming months will show whether the decline in Facebook numbers was just a statistical Christmas blip, which Socialbakers think it may have been, or, could it have been the first straw in the wind, the forerunner of a more severe outbreak of Facebook fatigue in the UK?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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