License article

Facebook brings out love, loathing and lies

RESEARCHERS think Facebook is on the nose with the public, but statistics suggest otherwise.

Australians may be willing to criticise the social media website to researchers, but behind closed doors they are using the website more.

Nielsen figures show Facebook's unique audience in Australia remains steady. In September last year about 11.48million Australians visited the site, compared with 11.26million in August this year. In between, the monthly unique audience dipped as low as 10.68million, but the overall trend line is relatively flat.

On average users spend more time on the site than a year ago, with three-quarters of users checking in daily.

The amount of time each Australian user spends on the site increased by 16minutes a month to seven hours, 39minutes and 17seconds by August this year. While this was a year-on-year increase, in April Facebook's average time on site had shot up to eight hours, 29minutes and 43seconds, before dropping off.

Nielsen said its numbers included desktop, mobile and tablet visits to Facebook's website, but not apps.


This week the latest six-monthly Ipsos Mackay report found a growing number of Australians were rejecting the culture of “narcissism and self-absorption” they said the social networking site promoted. The in-depth qualitative research with 95 participants. It found people wanted to close their Facebook accounts because the service was “time-consuming and tiring” and there was a “general lack of civility”.

The author of the Ipsos report, researcher Laura Demasi, said just because people were checking in didn't mean they liked Facebook, which had become a “necessary evil”.

“What we hear from people, particularly younger people, is that they feel like they have to [use Facebook] because it's like saying I don't like talking on the phone, so I'm going to unplug and throw my phone in the bin and have no phone,” she said.

“If you want to have a life in the world of 2012 then you kind of have to be on Facebook. It's become the address book more than anything. There's just a sense of fatigue of how much time it takes up.” People were talking about Facebook “up there next to the cost of petrol and electricity as things that are top of mind to them”.

Separate research Facebook commissioned from Nielsen this year found 75per cent of the site's Australian user base spent time on Facebook once or multiple times a day (the figure for TV viewing was 76per cent).

About 2.3million Australians used Twitter in August, according to Nielsen, while about 1million checked out Pinterest.