Facebook use dwindles for some UI students


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Christopher Philips was getting frustrated with his habit. He was tired of all the drama and sham that it entailed. Annoyed by the daily dose of peeking into other people’s lives, Philips deactivated his Facebook account this past summer.

“It just seemed a little ironic to me that a social-networking site was essentially making our society less social,” the University of Iowa junior said.

While some people — similar to Philips — have taken the step to sever ties with the social-media giant, researchers say people are spending less time on Facebook.

According to data released by comScore, U.S. computer users spent 12 percent less time on Facebook in August compared with August 2011. The decrease in use was most prominent in younger people, with a 42 percent and 25 percent decrease in the age groups 12-17 and 18-24, respectively.

Another report by The Inquisitor shows that Facebook’s user growth rate is also down in the United States, falling from 89 percent in April 2010 to a mere 5 percent in the same month this year.

David Perlmutter, the director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said while Facebook’s software may be getting slightly obsolete, with number of active users in excess of 800 million, it is not going to go the way of MySpace.

“They are partying like it is 2006,” he said referring to an era when Facebook witnessed more than 100 percent increase in number of users. “On my iPad [Facebook app], I can’t do something as simple as drag a picture from an album to another.”

Perlmutter, who uses Facebook rather conservatively — updating his statuses maybe once a week, understands how it can be frustrating for younger people.

“Squabbles and back room gossip that was once limited to hallways and phone calls are now essentially live,” he said. “People can feel like they are getting perpetually roasted.”

An expert on mobile social media, Melissa Tully, said she is not surprised to see the computer use of Facebook decline as more people access Facebook through their mobile devices.

“Other sites will surely tap into the market and offer things that Facebook can’t, but I don’t think it is going away for a while,” said the UI assistant professor in an email. “If Facebook can develop a useful, well-designed mobile interface that generates revenue for the company, I definitely wouldn’t count it out.”

Both Tully and Perlmutter pointed out the extensive number of active users as being one of the main reasons that Facebook will be able to sustain itself.

UI sophomore Andy Roth, an active Facebook user, agreed.

“I don’t go on it very much anymore; I am more on Twitter,” he said. “… But I still have it because I like to stay in touch with certain people and be able to look at their pictures.”

Another UI student, who was off Facebook for three months, said he was forced into getting back on.

“I was trying to play a game on my iPhone,” UI sophomore John Shunk said. “… And you couldn’t play the game unless you signed in with your Facebook, which is ridiculous. It is just annoying how big Facebook has gotten.”

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