In spite of the scandals and investigations, social media giant Facebook is, on the face of it going from strength to strength. Facebook recently posted another steady rise in revenue and now serves 2.37 billion monthly active users. However Facebook’s attempts to end the circulation of fake news and sensational content are adversely impacted the social media giant, researchers have announced.
The average amount of time American adults spent on Facebook reduced by three minutes per day last year and this is set to decrease again in 2019.
The landmark study reports Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s efforts to focus on safety and remove fake news and hateful content is having an economic impact.
Debra Aho Williamson, the study’s principal analyst, wrote: ”Facebook’s continued loss of younger adult users, along with its focus on down-ranking clickbait posts and videos in favour of those that create ‘time well spent’, resulted in less daily time spent on the platform in 2018 than we had previously expected.
“Less time spent on Facebook translates into fewer chances for marketers to reach the network’s users.”
Revenue from digital advertisements are the leading source of revenue at Facebook.
Some good news for the Social Network father is that daily US engagement continues to grow at its image and video-focused Instagram, where research firm eMarketer expected it to rise a minute this year to 27 minutes and then another minute per year through 2021.
Ms Williamson added: ”Features like Stories, influencer content and video are all contributing to more engagement and a slow but steady uptick in time spent on Instagram.”
Meanwhile, time people in the US spend at Instagram rival Snapchat has seemingly plateaued at 26 minutes daily, with an application redesign failing to boost engagement, according to eMarketer.
A broader trend seen last year was for Americans to spend less time at online social networks, and the overall engagement was expected by eMarketer to remain unchanged this year at almost one hour, 14 minutes per day.
Ms Williamson said: ”Gains in digital video viewing are putting pressure on social time, and gaming is also creating new competition for user attention.
“Though we can’t say there is a direct cause-effect relationship, these activities do at least threaten users’ engagement with social media.”
Facebook has until recently prioritised material that its algorithms think people will engage with through comments, Likes or other ways of showing interest.
But Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has stated he wants to shift the focus to help users make “more meaningful social interactions”.
The move follows his resolution in 2018 to “fix” the social media site.
The move is also in response to criticism that Facebook and rivals Snapchat and Twitter reinforce users’ views on social and political issues.