Facebook numbers are falling in the UK and US, new research reveals.
Data published by website Inside Facebook has identified that the US lost six million users in May and that user numbers in the UK, Norway and Russia all fell by more than 100,000. Numbers in Canada also fell by 1.52 million to 16.6 million.
In the US, numbers dropped from 155.2 million at the start of May to 149.4 million at the end of the month.
The figures means the site's growth has slowed for the second month in a row, even although it is approaching 700 million users worldwide – Facebook currently sees 687 million “active users” log in every month.
Despite the losses, the overall number of new recruits in May rose by 1.7% - attributed largely due to growth in densely populated countries where the site only took off more recently, such as Brazil and Mexico.
But this increase is at a significantly slower rate compared with the last 12 months.
Inside Facebook reports claim that the site added 11.8 million users in May, compared to the average 20 million who have typically been added every month.
Eric Eldon of Inside Facebook noted that seasonal issues could be partly to blame for number fluctuations, such as the end of the school year which could cause some college graduates to close their accounts. However, he followed this by saying that "by the time Facebook reaches around 50% of the total population in a given country (plus or minus, depending on internet access rates in that country), growth generally slows to a halt.”
On website Business Insider, sources voice concerns that this suggests a “saturation point where people begin to burn out on the service.”
However if Facebook infiltrates China then it could very likely reach its goal of 1 billion users. Current Chinese regime concerning communications means that users within the country are unable to connect to a variety of internet sites that the government disapproves of.
This wouldn’t come without risks. Eldon recognises that Facebook’s presence in China "could both give it access to hundreds of millions of users and compromise its reputation in the US and many other countries around the world".
Despite the month-on-month fall, the US still saw a 23% overall growth in users between May 2010 and May 2011 to 155.2 million users, while the UK grew by 10% to 29.9 million in the same period.
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