The number of Facebook users in the US fell by 15M people between 2017 and 2019, says a new report, with the various privacy-related controversies likely to have played some role in that.

But, ironically, Facebook-owned Instagram has seen to biggest increase in US users over the same timescale …

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Marketplace spoke with Edison Research’s Larry Rosin.

New numbers from Edison Research show an an estimated 15 million fewer users in the United States compared to 2017.

Said Rosin: “Fifteen million is a lot of people, no matter which way you cut it. It represents about 6 percent of the total U.S. 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. Obviously, the U.S. is the biggest market, in terms of dollars, and it’s going to be a super important market for Facebook or anybody who’s playing in this game.”

But with almost 80% of the US population using social media, there’s no suggestion that people are abandoning social networks – simply switching between platforms.

We only show trace numbers of people leaving social media altogether. They’re obviously just transferring their usage. The big gainer, interestingly, is under the same roof as Facebook. It’s their co-owned Instagram.

The percentage of the population using Instagram grew from 9% to 16% in the same timescale.

Edison also found that more than half the US population aged 12 and over has now listened to a podcast.

“This is a watershed moment for podcasting–a true milestone. With over half of Americans 12+ saying that they have ever listened to a podcast, the medium has firmly crossed into the mainstream,” noted Tom Webster, Senior Vice President at Edison Research.

One-third of the population reported having listened to a podcast in the last month, representing 90 million monthly listeners.

Finally, it seems once people get their first smart speaker, they want more.

Smart speaker ownership saw a big jump in the last couple of years and keeps climbing. About 23 percent of us have them now, with Amazon’s Alexa devices in the lead. One interesting trend developing around smart speakers is that people who get one tend to want multiple. In 2018, only about a tenth of smart speaker owners had several. Now, about a quarter of owners have three or more.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday outlined plans to focus more on privacy.

Photo: Shutterstock


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