Facebook touts itself to be the world's largest social network with more than one billion active members, but a new study calls into question just how "active" many of them are.
It's been jokingly referred to as "Facebook fatigue" in the past, but turns out that this might be something that the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company should start taking seriously.
A new survey from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reveals that more and more users in the United States are taking extended breaks, even "vacations," from the site.
According to Pew, 61 percent of current Facebook users admitted that "at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more." Explanations offered ranged from personal reasons such as "too much drama" to disagreements about changing privacy policies.
Regardless, the fact that more than half of its American user base has expressed needs to take such long breaks from using the site could be construed as a significant warning for Facebook.
What is probably most worrisome for Facebook is that one in four users plan to cut back their usage in 2013. (That will eventually translate into less traffic and less potential revenue for advertising, among other problems.)
While 69 percent of Facebook users predict they will spend the same amount of time on the site this coming year, nearly one third said they are going to spend less.
This is particularly true (and perhaps surprising) among younger users. Approximately 38 percent of members between the ages of 18 and 29 said they will spend less time on Facebook in 2013.
Pew didn't explain much more if these users are just disenchanted by Facebook or plan to spend more time on other social networks instead. But both options are possible as well as detrimental to Facebook's lead over Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks.
It's also possibly a sign of a major shift for social media. Young adults are often thought to be more social media savvy and simply more involved with these technologies. If they're shying away from Facebook, what opportunity does that present for everyone else?
Chart via Pew Internet