Social networking software

U.S. Facebook Popularity Wanes as International Growth Booms

U.S. Facebook Popularity Wanes as International Growth Booms
Facebook has nearly 700 million users worldwide, but the social network's U.S. popularity dropped by more than 5 percent in May, according to an online report.

Around 155.2 million Americans were using Facebook at the beginning of May, but that number dropped to 149.4 million by the end of the month. The drop in U.S. users contributed to an overall slump in Facebook's popularity in April and May, according to data from Inside Facebook Gold, a Facebook-centric market research service.

The U.S. wasn't the only North American country to see a slump in Facebook popularity. The social network also dropped 1.52 million Canadian users during the same time, according to IFG. However, nearly 50 percent of Canada's population is on Facebook and IFG says that countries with that level of Facebook saturation tend to slow down in growth. So Canada's Facebook slump may not be unusual.

What is unusual, according to IFG, is that Facebook's overall growth has slowed down in back-to-back months. The social network typically gains about 20 million users per month, IFG says, but failed to hit that mark in both April (13.9 million) and May (11.8 million).

U.S. Facebook Popularity Wanes as International Growth Booms
IFG has been tracking Facebook for a little over a year since Inside Network (home to the blog Inside Facebook) launched IFG in April 2010. While the numbers are interesting, the service is a little too young to be useful for figuring out significant historical trends. IFG also says that external factors such as seasonal changes, college graduation and bugs in the Facebook advertising tool that IFG uses as its data source can skew its data in the short term.

While Facebook faces a short-term slump in U.S. and Canadian activity, other countries are still rapidly getting onboard with the social network. Mexico, Brazil, and India all increased their Facebook usage levels by about 2 million people in May. Indonesia and the Philippines each saw an increase of more than one million Facebook users during the same time. IFG said Facebook's user base hit 687 million at the beginning of June. Facebook only claims it has more than 500 million active users worldwide.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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