'Until now it has been able to rely on platform shifters being hoovered up by Instagram.
The growth trends predicted by eMarketer indicate Facebook is reaching a saturation point in the US and needs to boost its younger user base in order to sustain future growth. What's more, some of the youngest kids in the US will bypass signing up for Facebook altogether, a group dubbed the "Facebook nevers".
This year, Instagram will add 1.6 million users younger than 24, while Snapchat will add 1.9 million, eMarketer says.
New data from market research firm eMarketer found that Facebook is losing younger users at a significant rate, with an estimated 2 million users aged 24 and younger set to leave Facebook this year. Facebook lost approximately 2.8 million U.S. users under 25 a year ago, a small amount in comparison to the company's vast user base but indicative of a general decline in interest for the platform amongst younger Americans.
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According to its figures, Instagram will add around 1.6 million users aged 24 and under, while Snapchat will gain around 1.9 million.
A new forecast from research firm eMarketer released February 12 now shows how much that failure may come back to bite Facebook in the long run.
However, Facebook remains comfortably the most popular social network globally, with more than two billion monthly active users, compared to around 330 million for Twitter and 187 million on Snapchat.
Facebook has tried to stem an exodus to Snapchat with measures such as a new version of its Messenger app for children. Facebook estimates the number of U.S. users to hit 169.5 million by the end of 2018, which doesn't mark even an 1% increase. All in all, Snapchat will have a younger audience than Instagram.
Smith's 17-year-old son Finnegan, who spends the bulk of his social media time on Snapchat and occasionally Instagram, recently deleted the Facebook account that he rarely used. It's a worrying development for the social media giant.
According to eMarketer, teens and young adults are defecting to newer platforms such as Snapchat, just as older users are flocking to sign up. "That's the predicament Facebook is in", said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson.