Tired of social networking? Logging off Facebook? You’re probably not the only one.
Fearing for their privacy or perhaps just bored with using the site, six million Americans are said to have deactivated their accounts last month.
And Facebook fatigue seems to be catching. One hundred thousand logged off for good in the U.S. too, figures show.
Logging off for good: Computer users concerned for their privacy are choosing to shut down the Facebook accounts. (Pictured posed by model)
Worldwide, the rate of growth has slowed for a second month in a row – and as it aims to reach its goal of one billion active users, Facebook is having to rely on developing countries to boost its numbers.
The figures suggest that there could be a ‘natural limit’ for Facebook’s saturation. There is even speculation on blogs that, as is feared for its failing rival MySpace, the website could one day ‘sputter into oblivion’.
In the U.S, user numbers dropped from 155.2million to 149.4 million throughout May.
Earlier this year, executives announced that the number of Facebook accounts held in the UK had reached 30million, accounting for about half the population.
The milestone was an increase of four million from last July and represented the highest saturation of any country in Europe.
But times change – and last month more than 100,000 in the UK stopped using the website, figures show. In Canada there was also a fall, of about 1.5million users, while in Russia and Norway numbers also fell by more than 100,000 users.
Worldwide reach: The map displays links between Facebook friends as lights on a deep blue background
It’s not all bad news for the site. Worldwide, Facebook is still expanding and has around 600million users, thanks to strong growth in countries such as Mexico and Brazil.
According to Eric Eldon, of the website Inside Facebook, which obtained the figures through analysis of the company’s advertising tools, there is a point at which the site can no longer grow, once it has established itself in a country.
‘By the time Facebook reaches around 50 per cent of the total population in a given country, growth generally slows to a halt,’ he explained.
Internet psychologist Graham Jones predicted that Facebook users would suffer the same kind of ‘fatigue’ that comes whenever men and women get bored with trying anything that is new. He said: ‘People get terribly excited about something new and after a while the novelty wears off.
‘Even if it is a new TV series everybody thinks it is fantastic at the beginning and things tail off.
‘In all aspects of our lives we are addicted to novelty, so Facebook should be the same.
‘The reason it is so compelling is that it is the first big website that allows two-way communication between people.
‘Humans are social beings and up until about five years ago we did not have a website for direct communication in this way.’
Facebook has been beset by concerns over its privacy, the most recent of which was over its facial recognition technology which commentators have described as sinister.
The site has come a long way since it was started in 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg, in his bedroom at Harvard University.
It has become the largest social networking site in the world and made him the world’s 52nd richest man with a personal fortune of $13.4billion – at just 27. In 2008 it had approximately 100million users. It has grown to 600million in just three years.
Privacy fears: Features like 'tag suggestions', where facial recognition algorithms automatically scan photos to suggest who is in them, have spooked users
A spokesman for Facebook said: ‘From time to time, we see stories about Facebook losing users in some regions.
‘Some of these reports use data extracted from our advertising tool, which provides broad estimates on the reach of Facebook ads and isn’t designed to be a source for tracking the overall growth of Facebook.
‘We are very pleased with our growth and with the way people are engaged with Facebook.
‘More than 50 per cent of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day.’