Commentary

OMG, Facebook Fatigue May Be Real (At Least In Our Minds)

Okay everyone, I know that we have been talking about Facebook fatigue for like a decade or something, and every time it seems to go on being the world’s biggest social network and posting record profits and all that – but this time it might actually be real.

Or not. But anyway here’s some food for thought.

The proportion of Facebook users who feel dissatisfied with the social network has been creeping up steadily over the last few years, according to a study from Bridge Ratings published last month.

Over the last decade Bridge has surveyed more than 32,000 Facebook users about their usage and feelings regarding the social network.

From 2012 to 2017, Bridge found that the proportion of Facebook users ages 12-17 who said they’re not using the social network as much as they used to increased from 24% to 30%, while the proportion among users ages 18-34 increase from 31% to 35%.

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Even more pronounced increases were seen in older age groups: the proportion among users ages 35-44 who said their usage has jumped from 25% to 41%, and the proportion among those ages 45-54 rose from 20% to 29%.

As always, there are a number of caveats to keep in mind regarding these sort of survey results.

The first, and possibly most important, is that measures are self-reported, and people’s judgment of their own media consumption (and a host of other personal behaviors) is notoriously unreliable.

It seems plausible that people might express their dissatisfaction with Facebook, which certainly could be real enough, thus “punishing” the company, by claiming to use it less when in fact their usage has remained the same.

On that note Facebook’s engagement figures per user don’t show much sign of overall decline: the average number of minutes spent on Facebook and its suite of properties (including Instagram) increased from around 40 minutes in 2014 to 50 minutes in 2016.

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