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Facebook dogged by falling UK user numbers

As far as consumer backlashes go, it’s hardly earth-shattering, but there are signs that Britons might be beginning to shake off their Facebook habit. December was the appropriate month for many users of the social networking site to go cold turkey, with UK Facebook losing 600,000 users.

There is usually a seasonal dip in Facebook use in December due to old-fashioned analogue stuff like talking to the family and going shopping, but the reduction is a significant statistic. It represents a 1.86% reduction in Facebook traffic in the UK, the only one of Facebook’s top ten territories to show a dip.

The data was compiled by the media monitoring firm SocialBakers, which might sound like a cosy bread-making circle but is adept at recording the blips and trends of social media usage and is relied on by big business to chart the fluctuations in popularity.

Identifying the causes of the falloff in Facebook traffic is a matter for speculation at present. One of the most persuasive arguments concerns the increased concern about abusive or libellous messages posted on social media networks. Until recently users seemed to believe that they had carte blanche to express any opinions on social media, but a spate of high-profile prosecutions in 2012 made it clear that police were monitoring social media messages.

Another theory is that Facebook has hit its saturation point, at least in core territories like the UK, and from now on it will just be a case of gradually shrinking its user numbers. Facebook’s signing up of over half the UK population makes it less appealing to the digital movers and shakers who like to feel they are ahead of the herd. Theoretically there is now a niche for a more exclusive, sophisticated and elitist social network to carve out a new empire.

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