Facebook takes a break

Facebook’s growth actually slowed down considerably for the month of June according to recent data from Inside Facebook,  an independent service of Inside Network dedicated to tracking the Facebook platform.

A single month may not indicate a trend, but the downturn is dramatic. After coming in at a spectacular 7.8 million new U.S. users in May, Facebook only added 320,800 new U.S. users in June. That’s close to a 96 percent drop in new user registrations!

And this is on the heels of the recent news that Facebook visitor traffic exceeded that of Google in the U.S. for almost a solid week back in March of this year.

Facebook is now supporting an astounding 500+ million users worldwide. When you consider there are 1.8 billion users on the Internet worldwide as of Dec 2009, the Facebook user community represents more than 27% of the total user population on the Internet. Obviously, Facebook cannot sustain this growth rate indefinitely.

More time will reveal whether Facebook is experiencing a permanent downward trend in growth, or if this is simply a temporary pause or exception to the numbers. For now, the experts can only speculate about this recent downturn.

There’s no question that social networking is here to stay, but some suggest that we may be reaching a “first wave” saturation point. New technology adoption does tend to occur in waves or phases.

In addition, the recent Facebook privacy issues may be turning some new users away, but that probably wouldn’t account for the full brunt of the drop-off.

And perhaps people are simply tiring of Facebook to some degree.

No one is forecasting the demise of Facebook any time soon, but a one-month dip in new user adoption rate will keep them on their toes. It’s a fiercely competitive space out there and user behavior is impossible to guarantee and predict with 100% accuracy. I’m sure Facebook never loses sight for a moment how MySpace users moved to Facebook in droves as part of the early Facebook growth curve.

Perhaps Google is next? Rumor has it that Google is busy working on the next Facebook killer. Never a dull moment in cyberspace!


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