Despite Concerns, Consumers Can’t Quit Social Media

With all the controversies surrounding social media platforms because of security, data collection, censorship and other issues, conventional wisdom suggests that users are turning away from them in growing numbers, eroding their utility as an advertising tool. However, data from Pew Research shows that the number of U.S. adults on these platforms is effectively unchanged from early 2018, before many of these controversies bloomed in the public consciousness.

Between 2016 and 2019, the share of U.S. adults on Facebook has remained effectively flat at 69 percent. The same goes for Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter, at 28 percent, 27 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Pew Research has no comparable data for YouTube, Snapchat and WhatsApp, although since 2018, these platforms have seen little to no change. YouTube is the only platform that matches Facebook’s reach, at 73 percent in 2018 and 2019 and Instagram has the only real growth story, expanding to 37 percent of U.S. adults since 2016.

Consumers use social media sites just as often as they did a year ago. Pew Research found that 74 percent of Facebook users are on the site at least once a day. Similarly, 63 percent of Instagram users are on the site daily followed by 61 percent of Snapchat users, 51 percent of YouTube users and 42 percent of Twitter users. These figures are identical to the results reported in the 2018 survey.

However, Pew Research notes that the growth in social media platform adoption rates has slowed in recent years, and that surveys have shown a drop in Facebook use by U.S. teens. Certain platforms’ user-bases tend to be younger—67 percent of Instagram users are ages 18-29, compared to eight percent of those over 65, and 62 percent of Snapchat users are 18-29 and three percent are over 65.

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