In the past few years, Facebook has faced more than its fair share of scandals, from the Cambridge Analytica data breach to the time it gave other companies special access to users’ data.
Now, Facebook’s U.S. users are leaving the platform behind by the millions, according to a new survey conducted by Edison Research. Although it’s not confirmed as the sole reason, there’s nothing saying those privacy breaches couldn’t be a factor.
For the survey, Edison Research collected data about users in the United States, Facebook’s most lucrative market. They found Facebook now has about 15 million fewer users in the U.S. than it had in 2017.
According to Marketplace, the survey found Facebook’s user base was shrinking the most among 12-to-34-year-olds.
This is definitely a big deal for the tech giant. As Edison President Larry Rosin told Marketplace, “I don’t see how you couldn’t say it’s a meaningful drop. It represents about 6 percent of the total US population ages 12 and older. What makes it particularly important is if it is part of a trend. This is the second straight year we’ve seen this number go down.”
However, if people leave one site behind, they typically replace it with something else. In this case, it seems users are flocking to Instagram — which is actually owned by Facebook. So, while Facebook’s website is seeing a decrease in U.S. users, the company itself isn’t completely losing them.
If people are still interacting with Facebook as a company, then it’s possible that the site itself is just becoming unappealing to younger people.
“There’s conjecture about as Facebook has become more popular among older people, whether that’s affected young people,” Rosin told Marketplace. “Then we have to consider whether some of these other social media platforms, in particular Instagram and Snapchat, are just more appealing to young people.”
Rosin added that, although younger users are leaving the site, there’s still increases among people who are 55 and older.