Young people are shifting gears when it comes to their use of social media applications and how they get their news. Reports show that Facebook is becoming less popular among the younger generation, with applications like WhatsApp surging in use.
According to Reuters, the usage of Facebook to check news fell nine percentage points last year. That’s a significant decrease on its own, but the Reuters Institute survey showed that the drop was a hefty 20 percentage points when the younger demographic was isolated and examined. The study looked at data from 74,000 people across nearly 40 markets.
Rather than rely on Facebook for perusing the news, applications like WhatsApp are growing in popularity, especially among young people. Luckily for Facebook, they own WhatsApp so the shift in usage isn’t entirely a loss for them.
Is this shift away from using Facebook due to the headlines and criticism that emerged over Cambridge Analytica misusing data from Facebook users or the major adjustments that Facebook has made in its news-related algorithms in recent months? Interestingly, it seems that this survey conducted by YouGov polling was done primarily before the Cambridge Analytica news broke. In addition, most of the data was gathered before the recent algorithm changes that impacted how news stories were fed into the News Feeds of users.
Data demonstrates that both Twitter and Facebook are still popular methods for finding news in general. However, discussion about the news is increasingly shifting to WhatsApp and similar applications.
The Daily Beast notes that the use of social media to track news developments had demonstrated continuous growth for a number of years. Social media continues to be a valuable resource for discovering news among young people and among various demographic groups all over the world. However, users appear to be turning to messaging applications that provide more privacy as well as less confrontational opportunities to connect with others to invest more of their time and energy.
Smart Insights notes that Facebook has tried to become everything to everybody in a sense, essentially cluttering up their product when many users want to keep things focused and simple. Online bullying, hate speech, and “fake news” are big concerns to users of all ages, and many believe that Facebook has lagged behind other applications in addressing these types of issues.
As young people increasingly turn to applications like Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp, Facebook will be challenged to evaluate its product and strategies and make changes to level out the decreases they’re experiencing. Can they right the ship before their numbers drop more substantially? Social media users of all demographics will be watching to see how they handle these challenges and adapt in the months to come.