Washington Secrets

Bye, bye, Facebook: Americans abandoning in droves, says poll

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

The Facebook craze that gave us Farmville and notes from "friends" about their breakfast and just about everything else may finally be ending.

A new Pew Research Center poll finds that a huge group of users, 61 percent, are taking breaks from Facebook up to "several weeks" long, and that virtually all age groups are decreasing their time on the social media site that recently flopped in its initial public offering of publicly traded stock. Most devastating: 38 percent of users aged 18-29, the focus of advertisers on the site, plan to slash their time on Facebook this year.

The poll's findings that users are pulling back on their Facebook obsession flies in the face of the poll's other finding that Americans are spending more time on social network sites. It didn't indicate where internet users are going instead of Facebook. In Washington, many lawmakers are shifting their attention from Facebook posts to Twitter.

The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project poll, provided to Secrets, found that 67 percent of online adults are Facebook users, a sign of just how important the website is to American life.

But the poll also found that many users seem to be getting bored with the website started in 2004. Besides the 61 percent who report taking long breaks from it, 42 percent of those aged 18-29, 34 percent of those 30-49, and 23 percent of users 50 and over have decreased their time on Facebook over the last year.

When asked why users were abandoning Facebook, 21 percent said they have run out of time to check in with the site. Some 10 percent "pointed toward a general lack of interest in the site," an equal 10 percent said it lacked "compelling content," another 9 percent said it was too full of "drama" and "excessive gossip" from friends, and 8 percent worried that they were becoming addicts.

Worse for Facebook, one in five adults told Pew that they no longer use Facebook. And while 59 percent said the site famous for sharing thoughts and pictures remains "about as important to them as it was a year ago," 28 percent said it isn't as important.

Pew also asked users about their Facebook usage plans for this year. One in four said they are planning to "cut back" on their Facebook usage.

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