Beleaguered Facebook has seen its user growth stagnate and even drop in lucrative markets such as the U.S. and Europe in recent months. As the company continues to deal with foreign threats and fake news, the company’s lifeblood, its user base, won’t be getting any help from teenagers.
Research firm eMarketer estimates that Facebook will lose 2.2 million users in the 12 to 17 age group by 2022, while rival Snapchat will add 1.2 million users in the demographic during the same time frame.
“Snapchat and Instagram are the top social apps for teens, and this year they’ll add nearly the same number of new teen users,” eMarketer senior forecasting analyst Christopher Bendtsen said in an email obtained by Fox News.
Bendtsen continued: “Stories is a growth driver for both platforms, yet it’s not helping Facebook retain younger users. Teens continue to abandon or never even sign up for Facebook, and Instagram’s gains don’t completely make up for Facebook’s losses for this age group.”
Facebook relies on its user base to keep reaching advertisers, from which it generates the vast majority of its revenue. In July, the company reported weaker-than-expected second-quarter results and issued guidance that its financial future isn’t as rosy as some investors thought it might be, lopping approximately $100 billion off the company’s market cap.
The report from eMarketer follows similar findings from Pew Research Center. In June, Pew Research said only 51 percent of U.S.-based teenagers now use Facebook, a 20 percentage point drop since 2015, when Pew last conducted its research.
In February, eMarketer issued a report the Mark Zuckerberg-led company was losing younger users at a pace faster than previously expected, a chief concern for the company going forward.
In 2018, 11.5 million people between the age of 12 and 17 will use Facebook, down from 12.1 million last year, By 2022, that number will drop to 9.3 million.
The research firm also said it expects Facebook’s U.S. user base to grow by an anemic 0.9 percent, finishing the year at 169.5 million.
The sour news for Facebook is just another in the long string of negatives for the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company.
Facebook is under intense scrutiny at the moment. In recent weeks, it’s been criticized for allowing controversial gay conversion ads, for which it has apologized. The social network has also been in the spotlight over its its Onavo VPN app that violated Apple’s App Store rules over privacy concerns. Separately, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) accused Facebook of allowing landlords to discriminate on housing ads. Freedom from Facebook, an advocacy group, has called for the company to be broken up.
Not all bad
Despite the grim news for Facebook’s big blue money maker when it comes to teens, it’s not all bad for Zuck and crew. It’s still the “most used social network” among all other age groups.
Facebook is the most used social network among Millennials, often defined as those born between 1981 and 1996. 58.5 million millennials are expected to use the platform and Instagram, which Facebook bought several years ago. Instagram comes in second at 43.3 million.
Generation X (people born between 1960 and 1980), use the social media platform most heavily eMarketer said, as 45.1 million Gen-X’ers use the service this year. Instagram is also heavily preferred by Gen X, with 23.5 million users this year from that demographic, a figure that “will grow slightly in 2019, but we expect that number will level off over the following years.”
Baby Boomers also use Facebook extensively, “mainly to stay in touch with friends and family,” accounting for 31.9 million of Facebook’s 2.23 billion monthly active users.
Facebook said its daily active user number, a closely watched figure among advertisers and investors, was 1.48 billion at the end of June, up 11 percent year over year.
Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia