Clarification to Guardian on Facebook Losing UK Users

Some data asks for in depth interpretation which is why we are stepping in to clarify the news about the drop in Facebook UK users.

Clarification to Guardian on Facebook Losing UK Users

Socialbakers has seen some increased media interest following an article recently published in the Guardian about Facebook’s recent “drop in numbers in the UK”. We would like to make some clarifications to avoid any confusion.


  • Over 50% of UK’s entire population is on Facebook – which is amazing!
  • About 15% of people in UK are under 13 years old therefore “not allowed” on Facebook
  • 16.5% of people in UK are older than 65 and typically not on Facebook (only 4% of 65+ year olds out of the 33M are on Facebook in UK)

This effectively means that UK is inflecting in terms of numbers at near full penetration on Facebook (note: Not stagnating, nobody has yet done any proper seasonality analysis because of the growth social networks). I can’t imagine their fans could grow by 10–20M new users, although this depends if they allow teens under 13 on the platform and furthermore largely depends on their mobile adoption.

This is especially important because Facebook measures by Monthly Active Users. This is one of the fairest methods of measurement in the industry and has been used since the days of social messaging platforms like AIM and ICQ – Monthly Active Users count (MAU). The numbers are from Facebook’s ad interface, and Facebook unlike other companies, updates this data on a pretty regular basis. No other company does that – they give you rough estimations on an irregular basis, which is not enough in todays moving social marketing world.

The monthly active user count is statistically vulnerable to more casual users of the platform, users that don’t use it that often and might fall out of the 30-day range from time to time. And yeah, my grandpa might sometimes not be an active user on Facebook, even though he is using it.

Note: What we figured out after working with this data for a long time is that Facebook’s ad interface has a slight delay, typically by several weeks. That’s why (for example) the change can’t account for any privacy policy changes, etc. I would actually assume that the numbers that take into account all of December’s traffic will increase, because of the sharing during the holiday period, which will probably be reflected in data over the next couple weeks.


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