Fatigued Users Fall Away From Facebook
Facebook users are abandoning the network in droves, and it's not because they're stinging from perceived privacy intrusions. Most just don't have time to keep up with all those status updates, news feeds and pictures of friends' kids, a recent survey suggests. Are they just taking a break from the madness? Or does the exodus threaten to finish off Facebook?
Feb 6, 2013 4:56 PM PT
Tired of Facebook? You're not alone.
More than half (61 percent) of the members of the social network have taken a break from it from time to time, and more than a quarter (27 percent) told researchers they planned to spend less time there in the future, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Internet Project.
In addition, a fifth of online adults who were not Facebook users said they had used the network at one time but deserted it and never returned, Pew's researchers found.
While Facebook has been criticized for how it uses its members' content and personal information, as well as its tendency to force changes upon users, none of those things were cited as reasons for taking a break by a significant number of the social networkers surveyed.
The top reason for taking a hiatus from the site was time: 21 percent of members said they were too busy for it.
"It takes up too much time because I let it, but I'm slowly weaning myself off it," Facebook user Robert Lopes, 63, told TechNewsWorld. "I want real time with friends and family."
Privacy Not a Big Concern
Other top reasons for ditching Facebook: "wasn't interested/didn't like it" (10 percent) and "waste of time/content not relevant" (10 percent).
Security concerns regarding Facebook were cited by only 4 percent of the survey's respondents.
"Those are not front-of-mind concerns," Aaron Smith, a Pew research associate who worked on the survey, told TechNewsWorld.
"By far, the main reasons were either things going on in their lives that prevented them from doing Facebook stuff, or things the people on Facebook were saying or doing, rather than things intrinsic to the site itself," Smith added.
It's not unusual for technology enthusiasm to ebb and flow within a person's life.
"This is in line with what we've seen with a lot of other platforms and technologies," Smith said. "We would have seen similar numbers if we were asking about Twitter or smartphones or any number of other technologies."
No. 1 Mobile App
Growth and engagement at Facebook remain high, company spokesperson Tucker Bounds told TechNewsWorld.
The social network ended 2012 with more than 1 billion monthly active users and 618 million daily active users.
Another sign of Facebook's popularity is its mobile app adoption, noted Bounds.
It was the most downloaded app in 2012, according to a recent ComScore report, and a whopping 20 percent of all the time users spent on a mobile app was on Facebook, he said.
While many Facebook members felt that it was necessary to take a break from the service occasionally, Pew's researchers also found that more than half (59 percent) said the site was still as important to them as it was a year earlier.
Fifty-three percent of the Facebook members surveyed by Pew noted that the time they spent on the site had remained constant over the last year.
Quality Is Key
There is time spent on Facebook, and then there is quality time on the social network, Venkat N. Venkatraman, chairman of the Information Systems Department at the Boston University School of Management, told TechNewsWorld.
"It is inevitable that people will feel tired after an initial euphoria," Venkatraman explained. "Even if people spend less time but they find that time to be useful and valuable, Facebook can monetize it. Otherwise, it is a troubling sign."
Pew's findings aren't necessarily a harbinger of the demise of Facebook or social media in general, said Chris Heuer, a social media and collaboration strategist for Deloitte Digital.
"People will determine how much social media is enough for them," Heuer told TechNewsWorld.
Sometimes users will choose alternatives to Facebook, such as GroupMe, for hosting small group conversations, he noted. "Other times, it is more of the snapback effect from overuse and a need for a respite."