Facebook, a company so heinous that it was cited by the United Nations as being complicit in genocide, is still the most popular social network in the world. But people are at least spending less time on the site these days.
A new report by eMarketer shows that the average American user of Facebook spent roughly 38 minutes per day on the platform in 2018, down from 41 minutes per day in 2017. That’s still 38 minutes per day longer than anyone should be using Facebook, but at least the trend is going in the right direction.
Researchers at eMarketer believe that some of Facebook’s changes have contributed to the drop in Facebook usage, and even told CBS News that mobile gaming may be picking up some of that slack.
“Facebook’s continued loss of younger adult users, along with its focus on downranking clickbait posts and videos in favour of those that create ‘time well spent,’ resulted in less daily time spent on the platform in 2018 than we had previously expected,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said in a press release.
“Less time spent on Facebook translates into fewer chances for marketers to reach the network’s users.”
The market researchers have adjusted their forecasts for 2019, which had previously predicted that Facebook usage would rise again to perhaps 40 minutes per day. The company now believes that 2019 is likely to be exactly like 2018, meaning that the average American user will spend 38 minutes per day looking at the site—which, again, has been a tool for literal genocide and yet continues to exist.
Snapchat use was at roughly 26 minutes per day in 2018, an identical number from 2017. And while Instagram’s total engagement is lower than Facebook, it has seen steady growth, with the average American Snapchatter using the mobile photo and video app roughly 26 minutes per day in 2018, up significantly from 2016 when it was just 22 minutes per day. The folks at eMarketer believe that new features are likely driving the uptick in engagement on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
“Features like Stories, influencer content and video are all contributing to more engagement and a slow but steady uptick in time spent on Instagram,” said Williamson.
Facebook, which has contributed to the rise of authoritarianism around the world, has obviously been a net negative for humanity and it’s great to see people spending less time on the site. But Instagram is owned by Facebook, and has seen its own rise of conspiracy theories and far-right fringe figures gaining steam. Facebook is going to keep making money from the worst aspects of modern society either way. Lots of money.
The long and the short of it? Everything is bad and while our prescription is to log off, we know you’re not going to do that. So take it in and enjoy. Or don’t enjoy, as it were. Facebook is making us more depressed anyway.