While the loss of younger users is a new twist on the Facebook story, the social media platform has been fighting to recapture the enthusiasm of yesteryear. New research from eMarketer predicts that Facebook will lose 2 million users under the age of 25 this year, while Snapchat will pick up 1.9 million.
eMarketer predicts Instagram will add 1.6 million users ages 24 and younger.
Facebook and Snapchat have been embattled adversaries ever since Facebook attempted and failed to acquire the messaging app in 2013.
Meanwhile, Snapchat is trying to expand its audience beyond younger demographic groups with a redesigned app that is meant to be easier to use.
Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook's vice president for the EMEA region, said she actively limits the time her own children are allowed to use their phones.
Facebook lost a large portion of users ages 12 to 17 in 2017, potentially showing that the company doesn't have as much of a stronghold over young minds as most tend to think.
The 12-17-year-old demographic in the USA dropped by nearly 10% in 2017 - roughly 1.4 million users. After the former rejected Facebook's $3 billion buyout offer in 2013, Facebook made concerted attempts to clone Snapchat features, first on Instagram, then on its native platform, and even on WhatsApp. But they may be missing the point. But there were controversies, too: allegations of Russians meddling in the election, fake news, metrics errors, and a growing body of research showing how using social media can harm mental health.
Youth Give Facebook The Thumbs Down?
Snapchat's ability to beat Facebook among teens highlights the success of its strategy.
That being said, the site's overall activity continues to grow due to the older people in the Facebook community. By comparison, Instagram (also owned by Facebook as of 2012) will record 104.7 million US users.
Facebook is in the data business, so this kind of thing was always going to happen.
Content from friends is the default on Snapchat.
Bill Fisher, the senior United Kingdom analyst for eMarketer is now warning that Instagram is also beginning to lose its grip with the 12-24-year-old gang.
"Right now, Facebook won't go away", she said. "That's the predicament Facebook is in", he added.
A 5.6 percent decline in users between 12 and 17 years old.
The anomaly could be explained by Facebook finding favour with older age groups. Snapchat, as well as Facebook-owned Instagram, have been attracting teen users with new filters, boomerangs, short video clips and cool chat boxes.
A previous survey by RBC Capital on social media in December had shown how Snapchat is favourite among teenagers in the U.S., a space that everyone would like to occupy.