Half users 'cutting Facebook time'
Facebook faces another challenge after new research revealed that half of the social network's users in the UK and US are using it less frequently than they used to.
The news comes two days after the social hub was identified in media reports as the platform that failed to identify a "graphic" conversation between one of Lee Rigby's killers and another extremist, six months before the Fusilier was murdered.
According to the research, which was carried out by GlobalWebIndex, Facebook remains the most popular social network around, but is facing increasing challenges to keep users interested. Fifty per cent said they were now using the site less, but this figure rose to 64% among the teenage demographic of 16 to 19-year-olds. Indeed 54% of the teenagers cited a lack of interest as the reason for their logging on habits dropping.
Another issue has been the rise of alternative social platforms - such as Snapchat, which has seen the sharpest uptake in new users in 2014, with numbers up 54% since the beginning of the year. Other platforms, such as Tumblr and Pinterest, have also become increasingly popular among social users, with both having seen active users increase by over 100% this year.
Those surveyed also said that their predominant reason for using Facebook was because most of their friends also used the site. Indeed, according to GlobalWebIndex, outside of China, four out of five internet users have a Facebook account.
Despite the reported drop in use, Facebook remains the dominant force when it comes to weight in numbers, with the research finding that more than 80% of global internet users have a Facebook account, 47% said they considered themselves to be actively using the network.
Facebook will point to the figures they reported in the last financial quarter, when they announced over 1.3 billion monthly active users, and revenue of more than three billion US dollars (£1.9bn) as a sign that they are hardly struggling compared to other social networks, but the report indicates that the social network market is beginning to shift.
The site has recently introduced a new Groups app that enables users to manage and interact with all of the groups they are a part of on Facebook. It comes towards the end of a year of evolution for the Mark Zuckerberg-founded company, with two major acquisitions in the form of messaging service WhatsApp, and virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus.
Facebook also announced a pilot scheme involving high-altitude drones, whereby the firm is looking to provide WiFi service to regions of the world currently without it.