Facebook exodus: Nearly half of young users have deleted the app from their phone in the last year, says study

  • A new survey of more than 3,400 U.S. Facebook users finds that 44 percent of users ages 18 to 29 have deleted the app from their phones in the past year.
  • Overall, 26 percent have deleted the app, while 42 percent have taken a break of several weeks or more.
  • The survey does not measure usage of Facebook's Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, all of which remain popular overseas, and does not measure Facebook's continuing growth overseas.
Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. 
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. 

Facebook's year of scandals is driving young users away from the platform, according to a Pew survey.

Pew surveyed more than 3,400 U.S. Facebook users in May and June, and found that a whopping 44 percent of those ages 18 to 29 say they've deleted the app from their phone in the last year. Some of them may have reinstalled it later.

Overall, 26 percent of survey respondents say they deleted the app, while 42 percent have "taken a break" for several weeks or more, and 54 percent have adjusted their privacy settings.

The results don't necessarily spell dire news for the company as a whole. The survey measures only the core Facebook app, not Facebook-owned Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, all of which remain popular and offer a lot of room for revenue growth. In addition, it does not measure Facebook users outside the U.S., where growth has continued as North American usage has stalled.

Even so, the results suggest that a lot of Facebook users are paying attention to the company's troubles and using the service less in response.

Facebook has spent the last year or so grappling with a number of scandals related to abuse of the platform, including an FBI report showing that Russian operatives used it to spread false news to try to influence the 2016 presidential election and the improper use of personal data by political research firm Cambridge Analytica.

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On Wednesday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Facebook's efforts to fight interference. However, former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos recently warned that the U.S. is no better equipped to fight foreign interference in the 2018 midterm elections than it was in 2016. Stamos is one of seven senior executives who have left or announced plans to leave Facebook this year.

The scandals are affecting Facebook's financial situation as well. The company's stock plunged more than 20 percent on a single day in July after Facebook warned on its earnings call of slowing ad growth and higher expenses related to fighting misinformation. Shares are off 1.4 percent in midday trading on Wednesday amid a broader decline in tech stocks.

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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