Facebook May Face Blowback

The recent Facebook privacy flap has given the world's biggest social network its most sustained run of bad press to date. Lots of folks said they were so disgruntled that they intended to opt out of Facebook, period -- like the 31 percent of respondents to a survey we did here who said they'd left the service or planned to do so. But is unhappiness with Facebook impacting the service in a tangible way?

Maybe so. Over at Inside Facebook, Chris Morrison has some fascinating factoids that show new Facebook signups collapsing from 7.7 million in May -- that's more than a quarter-million new members a day -- to a total of 320,800 in June, or a little over ten thousand a day. That doesn't represent a decline in membership, of course; it's just a decline in new memberships. But it's a striking one.

Morrison also says that Facebook had fewer active members in the 18 to 44 age group in June than in May.

I'm not expert enough at analyzing Facebook trends to know if there are other logical explanations for the dips -- and they don't represent a trend unless they continue. But you gotta think that some percentage of the people who haven't joined Facebook have opted out not because they don't know about Facebook or haven't gotten around to joining Facebook, but because they don't want to belong to Facebook. It wouldn't be the least bit surprising if the privacy kerfuffle caused those people to dig in their heels in mass quantities -- at least for now.

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