More than 17 million young Americans have quit Facebook in the last two years amid a number of data privacy scandals hit the social network.
Former fans of the site, aged between 12 and 34, have abandoned it in the wake of damaging reports, including the Cambridge Analytica debacle.
US users are the most lucrative market for the social media network and it is alienating the highly coveted youth as teens and millennials shun the app.
A report from market research firm Edison Research found they are flocking instead to Facebook’s sister site – Instagram.
Former fans of the site, aged between 12 and 34, have abandoned it in the wake of damaging reports, including the Cambridge Analytica debacle. The data revealed 79 per cent of US people aged between 12 and 34 were on Facebook but this has plummeted to 67 per cent in 2018 and 62 per cent in 2019
The report found that in 2017, 67 per cent of the total US population over the age of 12 used Facebook.
This has dropped to 62 per cent and 61 per cent in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
These average figures equate to approximately 172 million current users, according to Edison Research.
However, a breakdown of those ditching the beleaguered site found the drop off has been much larger in youngsters.
The data revealed 79 per cent of US people aged between 12 and 34 were on Facebook but this has plummeted to 67 per cent in 2018 and 62 per cent in 2019.
This reveals 17 million people in this age group have deactivated their accounts.
This has been marginally offset by an increase in people aged 55 and up. Facebook use for this older group increased from 49 per cent in 2017 and 2018 to 53 percent in 2019.
The report, which interviewed 1,500 users over the age of 12 via telephone, reveals the overall decrease in Facebook’s user numbers is approximately 15 million.
Data from the report found that Twitter’s numbers are dropping (36 per cent in 2017 to 29 per cent in 2019) and Snapchat’s user base is stable at 62 per cent of all young Americans over the past two years.
17 million people between 12 and 34 have deactivated their accounts. This has been marginally offset by an increase in people aged 55 and up. Facebook use for this older group increased from 49 per cent in 2017 and 2018 to 53 percent in 2019 (pictured)
Facebook’s usage equates to approximately 172 million current users, according to Edison Research (pictured). However, a breakdown of those ditching the beleaguered site found the drop off has been much larger in youngsters
It did find that while Facebook, and to some extent Twitter, is haemorrhaging users – they are instead logging on to Instagram.
The picture oriented platform has seen a surge in users from 64 per cent in 2017 to 66 per cent in 2019.
Facebook remains the most used social media site overall and among young people despite the decrease in popularity.
It is also the most used platform for the youngest demographic in the US with 29 per cent saying it is the site they use most often.
HOW DOES ZUCK PLAN TO IMPROVE PRIVACY?
In a March 6 blog post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised to rebuild based on six ‘privacy-focused’ principles:
- Private interactions
- Reducing permanence
- Secure data storage
Zuckerberg promised end-to-end encryption for all of its messaging services, which will be combined in a way that allows users to communicate across WhatsApp, Instagram Direct, and Facebook Messenger.
This he refers to as ‘interoperability.’
He also said moving forward, the firm won’t hold onto messages or stories for ‘longer than necessary’ or ‘longer than people want them.’
This could mean, for example, that users set messages to auto-delete after a month or even a few minutes.
‘Interoperability’ will ensure messages remain encrypted even when jumping from one messaging service, such as WhatsApp, to another, like Instagram, Zuckerberg says.
Facebook also hopes to improve users’ trust in how it stores their data.
Zuckerberg promised the site ‘won’t store sensitive data in countries with weak records on human rights like privacy and freedom of expression in order to protect data from being improperly accessed.’
The result from the survey directly contradict the official figures from Facebook, who declined to comment on the findings.
Monthly and daily active users, Facebook’s figures reveal, have increased globally.
In the US and Canada alone, Facebook says it has 186 active daily users at the end of 2018 – up marginally from 182 million at the start of 2017.
Over the same time span monthly active users have increased from 234 million to 242 million, its official figures say.
A monthly active user is defined as a user who logs on at least once a month and a daily active user is someone who uses the site every day.
Data is not available for the younger demographic.
Facebook yesterday announced it is shifting toward a ‘privacy-focused’ future.
In lengthy blog post on Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed a plan to bring end-to-end encryption to Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram messaging services – confirming previous reports that the firm planned to stitch the three together.
The Facebook boss acknowledged the site’s reputation, which has been tarnished in recent years as a result of its lax-approach to the protection of its users’ information, and promised to rebuild its services on the principle of privacy.
Zuckerberg also said he’s working to ensure your online activity won’t come back to haunt you later in life.
Ultimately, the CEO says the firm is striving to make interactions across Facebook ‘a fundamentally more private experience.’
‘I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever,’ Zuckerberg wrote in the March 6 post.
‘This is the future I hope we will help bring about.’
FACEBOOK’S PRIVACY DISASTERS
December 2018: Facebook comes under fire after a bombshell report discovered the firm allowed over 150 companies, including Netflix, Spotify and Bing, to access unprecedented amounts of user data, such as private messages.
Some of these ‘partners’ had the ability to read, write, and delete Facebook users’ private messages and to see all participants on a thread.
It also allowed Microsoft’s search engine, known as Bing, to see the name of all Facebook users’ friends without their consent.
Amazon was allowed to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and Yahoo could view streams of friends’ posts.
As of last year, Sony, Microsoft, and Amazon could all obtain users’ email addresses through their friends.
September 2018: Facebook disclosed that it had been hit by its worst ever data breach, affecting 50 million users – including those of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Attackers exploited the site’s ‘View As’ feature, which lets people see what their profiles look like to other users.
The unknown attackers took advantage of a feature in the code called ‘Access Tokens,’ to take over people’s accounts, potentially giving hackers access to private messages, photos and posts – although Facebook said there was no evidence that had been done.
The hackers also tried to harvest people’s private information, including name, sex and hometown, from Facebook’s systems.
Facebook said it doesn’t yet know if information from the affected accounts has been misused or accessed, and is working with the FBI to conduct further investigations.
However, Mark Zuckerberg assured users that passwords and credit card information was not accessed.
As a result of the breach, the firm logged roughly 90 million people out of their accounts earlier today as a security measure.
March 2018: Facebook made headlines earlier this year after the data of 87 million users was improperly accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy.
The disclosure has prompted government inquiries into the company’s privacy practices across the world, and fueled a ‘#deleteFacebook’ movement among consumers.
Communications firm Cambridge Analytica had offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.
The company boasts it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’ through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists.
‘Within the United States alone, we have played a pivotal role in winning presidential races as well as congressional and state elections,’ with data on more than 230 million American voters, Cambridge Analytica claims on its website.
The company profited from a feature that meant apps could ask for permission to access your own data as well as the data of all your Facebook friends.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump
This meant the company was able to mine the information of 87 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.
This was designed to help them create software that can predict and influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.
The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump.
This information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.
It has also suffered several previous issues.