Facebook Has A Young People Problem & Huge Numbers Plan To Leave

Illustration: Norah Stone
Facebook will haemorrhage teenage and young adult users in 2018, a new forecast suggests. Young people in the UK will leave the social network in droves in favour of Snapchat, while the over-55s will continue to sign up, according to eMarketer.
This year, 300,000 fewer 12- to 17-year-olds and 400,000 fewer 18- to 24-year-olds will regularly use Facebook compared to last 2017, figures from the market research company predict, as reported by the Guardian.
While in previous years the 14-year-old social network has been able to keep teens and young adults on side through Instagram, which the company has owned since 2012, Snapchat is increasingly proving more alluring to this demographic, Bill Fisher, UK senior analyst at eMarketer, told the Guardian. The app's "range of interactive features" is reportedly the main draw.
"Facebook has a teen problem,” Fisher said. “Until now it has been able to rely on platform shifters being hoovered up by Instagram. However, leading the charge for younger audiences is Snapchat. There are now some early signs that younger social network users are being swayed by Snapchat.”
The ephemeral photo-sharing app has seen its take-up rate among UK social network and app users more than double to 43% in the last three years, Fisher added.
Facebook's popularity among older demographics will remain stable this year, though, with 25- to 34-year-olds and 35- to 44-year-olds forecast to flatline. For many users within these age groups, Facebook is predominantly considered a tool through which to organise events and remember people's birthdays.
However, older people in the UK will continue to join Facebook this year, with the largest growth coming from the over 55s (500,000 new users). This group is drawn to the site's "less complicated social network experience" and its photo- and video-sharing capability, which allows them to keep tabs on their grandchildren's lives. As a group, they're also late to the internet in general compared to young people, who have grown up with social media.
Despite this huge demographic shift, Facebook is still the UK's most popular social network by a mile – with a predicted 32.6 million users in 2018, compared to Instagram's 18.4 million, Snapchat's 16.2 million and Twitter's 12.6 million. At this rate, it'll be a while until our grandparents are on Snapchat.
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