Facebook is taking issue with the BBC’s report of a user decline. A Facebook spokesperson sent me this statement: â€œThe number of users for Facebook continues to climb in the UK. Our internal monthly active user numbers rose between December and January in the UK and are now at more than 8.3 million. Facebook tracks active monthly users, rather than registered user or unique visitors. Active users reflect those who have used the site in the past 30 days.â€
Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch has a similar type of post about Facebook U.S., although I think it might just show the same kind of seasonal fluctuation that others have mentioned in the posts I’ve linked to below. In fact, if you look at Erick’s graph there is a very similar falloff at about the same time last year.
What are we to make of the reports that Facebook’s user base declined in Britain in January, as the BBC has breathlessly reported? Well, obviously it means that the social-networking site is over, and we should move on to the next big thing. Or does it? While Facebook’s growth is inevitably going to slow, and some of those who jumped on the bandwagon may fall off over time for various reasons, I think it’s a bit much to ring the bell of doom based on one downtick. In the BBC story, one media analyst says:
“Social networking is as much about who isn’t on the site as who is – when Tory MPs and major corporations start profiles on Facebook, its brand is devalued, driving its core user base into the arms of newer and more credible alternatives.”
I would have liked a list of those “newer and more credible alternatives,” because as far as I can tell my oldest daughter (18) and her friends continue to use Facebook just as much, if not more — and so does my middle daughter and her group of friends, who are 14. As the BBC story notes (towards the end), Facebook’s user base in Britain is more than 700 per cent larger than it was a year ago. And as WinExtra and The Last Podcast note, seasonal dips are not uncommon.
I will admit that I’ve been using Facebook less of late, in part because — as I’ve discussed here before — I’ve been using Twitter more, and that’s where I keep in touch with people and exchange links and so forth. But I still use Facebook to track what’s going on with my non-Twitter friends, and in fact I seem to be using Facebook messages even more, since my teenaged daughter uses that instead of email.