Facebook may finally be seeing the results of a year’s non-stop scandals and data problems, new usage figures for Ireland suggest.
The online giant has seen the departure of 300,000 people from its Irish user base in the last nine months, according to the company’s own advertising numbers.
At the start of the year 2.9 million people were active on the site compared to 2.6 million now, according to an analysis of the numbers by Cork-based Mulley Communications.
The fall is steepest among teenagers and young adults. In the 13-35 age category, there are 200,000 fewer people active on Facebook today than at the start of the year.
And there has been a collapse in teenage users, falling by a third (150,000 to 100,000) in the last nine months.
However, there has been almost no fall-off in users over the age of 50, with 600,000 older people still relying on the site for online social activity. This represents a fall of just 10,000 on the beginning of the year.
It means there are now almost twice as many Facebook users over the age of 65 (170,000) as there are 18 or under (100,000).
The figures suggest older people are not as concerned about data misuses by Facebook as younger users, who are deserting Facebook for rival social media platforms.
“While less teens are joining Facebook and go direct to Snapchat and Instagram, there were great losses in most demographics,” said Damien Mulley of Mulley Communications. “This could be attributed to social media burnout and the fashion of decreasing screen time.
“Some attribution could be made for the deletion of fake accounts but the decreases are not consistent across the demographics.
“With nearly every Facebook news article being about privacy violations, Mark Zuckerberg testifying in front of congress and documentaries like ‘The Great Hack’, the public are saying they have deleted their accounts.”
The figures appear to tally with recent statistics on declining Facebook usage in Belgium and the UK.
The tech giant has faced a relentless 18 months of bad publicity over scandals ranging from data breaches to political manipulation through the Cambridge Analytica affair.
Last month, it was handed a $5bn fine by US regulators for data misuse.
It is waiting for the Irish Data Protection Commissioner to rule on a number of statutory enquiries into data privacy issues across the EU.
However, Facebook has buttressed itself against decline in usage of its main platform through the popularity of its subsidiaries, WhatsApp and Instagram, which are widely used by adults and teenagers.