Nearly half of young US Facebook users have either taken a break or deleted the app from their mobile phones in the past year, new research by the Pew Research Center has found.
Despite this, Facebook estimates its reach has grown among younger US demographics, AdNews analysis can reveal.
The study found that among 18 to 29 year-olds, 47% had taken a break from Facebook for several weeks or more while 44% had deleted the app from their phone. Even more (64%) had ramped up their privacy settings.
The Facebook usage study was the first by Pew since the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted and several parliamentary hearings into the social media platform.
The study found that older demographics were more committed to the Facebook app.
Among 30-49 year-olds, 63% had adjusted their privacy settings, 41% took a break and 23% deleted the app in the past year.
For 50-64 year-olds, only 20% had deleted the app, while this dropped to 12% for users aged 65 and over.
The Pew Research Center polled 4,594 respondents between 29 May and 11 June with a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.
The results are at odds with Facebook's own Ads Manager estimates of how much its reach has grown over the past year.
Speaking to AdNews last month Facebook says consumers aren't pulling back from the platform.
AdNews analysis compared 2017 data with 2018 data across 10 age brackets. It found that Facebook's own reach of users grew the most for 25 to 29-year-olds (8.8%) despite the Pew study finding that 44% of this age group had deleted the app at least once in the past year.
Recent AdNews analysis found that Facebook’s reach inflation isn't just confined to the US.
Facebook claims it can reach 1.85 million more 15 to 39-year-olds in Australia that officially exists, which is up from 1.7 million in 2017.
Pivotal Research Group senior analyst Brian Wieser also noted a decline in usage on Facebook's core platform.
In his latest analyst note about internet advertising, Wieser said that Facebook experienced a 6.7% decline in the average time spent per user and an aggregate decline of 3.4%, although the number of users were up 3.5% in the US.
“While the declines for Facebook described here are more significant vs other recent periods, it is impossible to identify whether or not Cambridge Analytica and concerns around data privacy had any impact here, nor if Facebook’s efforts to improve the quality of time spent (at the expense of volume of time) might be having a desired effect,” Wieser wrote.
Facebook’s overall share of digital (including Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp) is down from 16.9% a year ago to 15.2%. However, Facebook’s share of digital advertising revenue in the US is 23%, which Wieser believes is a sign the platform is over-monetising.
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