Is Facebook over?

A new study reveals that most users have taken extended sabbaticals from the site -- sometimes weeks at a time

Topics: Facebook, social network, Pew Internet and American Life Project, Mark Zuckerberg, CNET,

Is Facebook over?Mark Zuckerberg (Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder)

Less than a week ago, Facebook made a stunning disclosure in its 10k annual report: teens might be finished with the social network altogether. “We believe,” the report’s authors noted glumly, “that some of our users, particularly our younger users, are aware of and actively engaging with other products and services similar to, or a substitute for, Facebook.” A new study released Tuesday suggests the company’s problems go beyond the waning interest of its youngest demographic.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, as many as 61 percent of Facebook members have tuned out the website for weeks and sometimes months at a time. The reasons listed for these extended breaks are as banal as they are predictable: 21 percent of those surveyed “are too busy/don’t have time for it”; 10 percent “just aren’t interested/just don’t like it”; and another 10 percent simply think it’s a “waste of time.”

CNET’s Jennifer Van Grove has isolated some of the more biting — and comical — remarks of those polled:

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  • “I was tired of stupid comments.”
  • “[I had] crazy friends. I did not want to be contacted.”
  • “I took a break when it got boring.”
  • “It was not getting me anywhere.”
  • “Too much drama.”
  • “People were [posting] what they had for dinner.”
  • “I don’t like their privacy policy.”
  • “It caused problems in my [romantic] relationship.”

The rest of the study’s findings are no less damning. Thirty-four percent of 30- to 49-year-olds claim their Facebook use has decreased over the course of a typical day; that number climbs to 42 percent for 18- to 29-year-olds. More telling, 38 percent of this age group insists that they plan to spend less time navigating the site in 2013.

The question now is whether investors will take note.

Jacob Sugarman is Salon's cover editor. You can follow him on twitter @jakesugarman.

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