Facebook's U.S. growth eases on the brakes

New data shows the rate at which U.S. users frequent the social network has markedly decreased along with users spending less time on the site.

Those days of users spending countless hours on Facebook, poking, posting photos, and updating their statuses seem to be ending. And if not ending, they're definitely slowing.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the social network's growth rate in the U.S. has pretty much stopped in its tracks. However, this must be taken in the context of Facebook's stupendous growth since its inception eight years ago -- up front the numbers don't look that bad, but studied more closely it could look troublesome for the social network.

Unique visitors to the site were up 5 percent to 158 million in April, compared with a year earlier, according to data from research firm ComScore. However, this was the lowest growth rate since the firm started looking at Facebook's growth data in 2008. So, even though it grew in the amount of visitors, its growth fell from 24 percent growth in April 2011 and 89 percent in April 2010.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the amount of time people are spending on the site is also slowing. Similar to the growth data, in April, users spent on the average six hours on the site, which was up 16 percent from 2011. But compared with to a 23 percent increase in 2011 and 57 percent in 2010, time spent on the site is decreasing.

"Declining growth rates are a natural part of the growth cycle," ComScore analyst Andrew Lipsman told The Wall Street Journal.

Another recent report on Facebook , by Reuters and Ipsos, showed that roughly 34 percent of Facebook users spend less time on the site than they did six months ago, saying that it's "boring" and "not useful." Only 20 percent said they now spend more time on the social network, while almost half spend around the same amount of time.

Compared with other social networks, however, Facebook is still king. In a ComScore report from February, Facebook users spent an average of 7.5 hours on the site during January and Google Plus users spent just 3.3 minutes for the whole month. Also, 71 percent of all Internet users in the U.S. have a Facebook account.

It's unclear what this means for Facebook's newly public status . Most likely, it will make investors concerned and advertisers wary. According to The Wall Street Journal, 56 percent of the social network's ad revenue in 2011 came solely from the U.S. It appears that Facebook may need to look toward its international market.

About the author

Dara Kerr, a freelance journalist based in the Bay Area, is fascinated by robots, supercomputers and Internet memes. When not writing about technology and modernity, she likes to travel to far-off countries.

 

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