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BizReport : Social Marketing : April 30, 2013

Major UK newspaper incorrectly reports Facebook data... again

A recent article in The Guardian would have you think that Facebook is losing users hand over fist and that, of those that are still logging on, the time they are spending on the social network is dropping. However, the source of the data used by the newspaper is disputing such a scenario.

by Helen Leggatt

In its article dated 29th April, "Facebook loses millions of users as biggest markets peak" The Guardian (UK) quotes data from traffic firm Socialbakers to tell its readers that Facebook's social media dominance is under threat.

Guardian writer Juliette Garside informs readers that "the world's largest social network has lost 6m US visitors, a 4% fall" and "in the UK, 1.4m fewer users checked in last month, a fall of 4.5%".

socialbakers-logo.pngHowever, Jan Rezab, CEO of Socialbakers from whom the data for The Guardian article was sourced, has written of his frustration with the newspaper's reporting... again.

"We previously published a clarification to one of The Guardian's articles three months ago (read more in Clarification to Guardian on Facebook losing UK users). In this article, I explained the stats in question, revealed the source of the stats, and admonished journalists against jumping to conclusions about them going forward," writes Rezab.

"Well, The Guardian did not heed the advice, jumping to an even bigger conclusion this time," he added. "We state, quite clearly, on our site that these figures are rough estimates and cannot be used to determine Facebook traffic."

Rezab backs up his position with several stats including that half of the UK's entire population is on Facebook, 15% of people in the UK are under the minimum age to join Facebook and that 16.5% of people in the UK are age 65 or over and are not typical of Facebook users.

In other words, "the bottom line here is that there is no story", concludes Rezab.

Tags: data, social media, social networking, U.K., U.S., user data

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    SocialBakers is only one of 4-5 sources for the Guardian's report. Also, the term 'losing users' is misleading. "Losing traffic", or "users checking in less less/often" might be more accurate. The fact is that FB does appear to have peaked, in the broadest sense of the word, or at least plateaued.



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