Facebook’s death has been ‘greatly exaggerated’

Reports of the death of Facebook have been “greatly exaggerated”, the boss of a major market researcher into digital customers has said.

A recent article by a University College of London professor made headlines when he said many teenagers thought Facebook was uncool, as their parents and older people began to use it more. Professor Daniel Miller said the social networking giant was “dead and buried” to them.

But a bigger international study by London and Singapore-based GlobalWebIndex found that Facebook’s decline among young people has been overstated, and it remains hugely popular around the world.

Tom Smith, founder and chief executive of GlobalWebIndex, said: “Academics from University College London recently received a lot of coverage by claiming that Facebook is ‘basically dead and buried’ among teens, but the real picture is actually far more complex.

“While teen usage of Facebook has seen a small decline, there is strikingly little evidence to suggest that UCL’s findings are representative of broader trends.”

Smith said his firm’s research was based on 170,000 online interviews per year across 32 countries.

“We’ve been able to show that Facebook is still used by 48.5% of 16- to 19-year-olds globally on a monthly basis,” he said.

“Facebook is still the dominant, most popular social network on the planet among teens, with 67% more active teen users than the nearest competitor, YouTube (29% of 16- to 19-year-olds). Twitter is third with 26% of 16- to 19-year-olds around the world using it on a monthly basis.

“Our GlobalWebIndex Social study shows that reports of ‘the death of Facebook’ have been greatly exaggerated.”

The research also showed usage rates of Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit have all increased, demonstrating how diverse and competitive social networking has become. Use of messaging apps like WeChat, Vine, Snapchat, and WhatsApp rose strongly, too.

Though more than 50% of active users on the top social platforms are drawn from the 16-34 age group, it is the 25-34s rather than the 16-24s who form the largest share of users on nearly all of them.

Emerging internet markets are the most socially engaged. Indonesia tops the list with 97% of internet users having an account on Facebook, and 83% with a Google+ account.

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