Could Facebook be on the way out?

Could Facebook be on the way out?

A study of how older teenagers use social media has found Facebook is "not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried" and is being replaced by simpler social networks such as Twitter and Snapchat, an expert has claimed.

Young people now see the site as "uncool" and keep their profiles live purely to stay in touch with older relations, among whom it remains popular.

Professor Daniel Miller of University College London, an anthropologist who worked on the European Union-funded research, wrote in an article for the academic news website The Conversation: "Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it.

"This year marked the start of what looks likely to be a sustained decline of what had been the most pervasive of all social networking sites.

"Young people are turning away in their droves and adopting other social networks instead, while the worst people of all, their parents, continue to use the service.

"Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives. Parents have worked out how to use the site and see it as a way for the family to remain connected.

"In response, the young are moving on to cooler things.

"What appears to be the most seminal moment in a young person's decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day your mum sends you a friend request."

The Global Social Media Impact Study observed those aged 16 to 18 in eight countries for 15 months and found Facebook use was in sharp decline.

It found young people were turning to simpler services such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp, which professor Miller conceded were "no match" for Facebook in terms of functionality.

"Most of the schoolchildren in our survey recognised that in many ways, Facebook is technically better than Twitter or Instagram. It is more integrated, better for photo albums, organising parties and more effective for observing people's relationships," said professor Miller, adding that "slick isn't always best" in attracting young users.

WhatsApp has overtaken Facebook as the number one way to send messages, said the researchers, while Snapchat has gained in popularity in recent months by allowing users to send images which "self-destruct" after a short period on the recipient's phone in order to maintain privacy.

Snapchat claims 350 million images are sent every day, and reportedly recently turned down a $3.2 billion acquisition offer from Facebook. Evan Spiegel, the co-founder, who lives at home with his father despite an estimated net worth of $3.4 billion, last month said "deleting should be the default".

Researchers found close friends used Snapchat to communicate, while WhatsApp was used with acquaintances and Twitter broadcasted to anyone who chose to follow that person.

The study found Facebook, which will be a decade old next year, was now used by teenagers as a way to stay in touch with older members of their family and siblings who have left for university and has "evolved into a very different animal" from its early days as a social network focusing on young users at university.

Telegraph, London