Facebook user numbers drop for the first time in history

The number of Facebook users who actively check the social media site each day in North America has dropped for the first time in company history.

For the past few years, Facebook usage in North America has been steady. As interest in obsessive checking tails off with age, new users would crop up to fill the gap. That phenomenon is no longer happening, as Facebook now has to look to international users to pick up the slack.

It may not quite sound like the death knell many think it is, but if Facebook is beginning to lose traction in its first and most prominent market, who knows where the trend could stop.

Understanding why Facebook numbers have dropped for the first time in its history isn’t a straightforward process. Other than the rise of Snapchat and an increase of people moving over to the Facebook-owned Instagram, CNBC states that an uptick of bad press around Facebook is probably to blame.

While I’m less certain if the younger end of Facebook users is overly fussed about this, the older side of the social network will definitely be holding off due to their political beliefs.

It’s clear that Facebook is aware of the problem, though, and is going to a lot of effort to turn around people’s opinions. We’ve already seen Facebook buy an ID verification startup, alter its privacy controls, move away from brand-based posts and back to friends and family, push reliable news and bring AI in to help combat terrorism on the platform and bring a ban to untrustworthy financial adverts.

If these measures fail to bring people back into the Facebook fold, it’ll need to think about how it can monetize a smaller userbase more effectively, while diversifying to bring in a new subset of users it hasn’t already attracted.

In its Q3 2017 earnings, Facebook held 185 million US and Canadian users. This number fell to 184 million as part of the Q4 2017 earnings. Interestingly though, despite one million fewer users, they still accounted for around $1.3 billion more in revenue than the previous quarter – something many are putting down to seasonal ad spend increase instead of any great monetization changes within Facebook.

If numbers in North America drop in the next quarter, and revenue also follows, it’ll be worth keeping an eye on how the rest of Facebook’s global business is performing too. Who knows, maybe even the mighty Facebook may go the way of Myspace eventually. After all, the online world is littered with the bodies of giant corporations once deemed too big to fail.


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