February 3, 2014

6 new facts about Facebook

Facebook turns 10 tomorrow and reaches that milestone as the dominant social networking platform, used by 57% of all American adults and 73% of all those ages 12-17.  Adult Facebook use is intensifying: 64% of Facebook users visit the site on a daily basis, up from 51% of users who were daily users in 2010. Among teens, the total number of users remains high, according to Pew Research Center surveys, and they are not abandoning the site. But focus group interviews suggest that teens’ relationship with Facebook is complicated and may be evolving.

New Pew Research Center survey findings show how people are using Facebook and what they like and dislike about the site.

1Some users dislike certain aspects of Facebook, but fear of missing out on social activities (or “FOMO”) isn’t one of them.

FT_Facebook-user-dislikesTheir dislikes start with oversharing by friends and people posting one’s personal information (such as photos) without first asking permission are among the most common. Parents are especially protective of images of their children, as 57% of Facebook users with children under the age of 18 say that people posting pictures of their children without asking permission first is something they strongly dislike about using Facebook.

On the other hand, the “fear of missing out” phenomenon resonates with only a small proportion of the Facebook population. Just 5% of Facebook users strongly dislike the fact that Facebook allows them to see others taking part in social activities that they themselves were not included in—and 84% of users say that this aspect of Facebook life doesn’t bother them at all.

FT_Facebook-use-reasons2Women and men often have varying reasons for why they use Facebook – but everything starts with sharing and laughs.

Users say they especially appreciate photos and videos from friends (47% say that’s a major reason they use the site), the ability to share with many people at once (46% cite that as a major reason), updates from others (39% cite that), and humorous content (39%). Other aspects of Facebook—such as keeping up with news, or receiving support from the people in one’s network—appeal to a more modest audience of users. Men and women sometimes vary in their reasons for using the site.

3Half of all adult Facebook users have more than 200 friends in their network.
FT_Facebook-friend-countsFacebook users differ greatly when it comes to the number of friends in their networks:

  • 39% of adult Facebook users have between 1 and 100 Facebook friends
  • 23% have 101-250 friends
  • 20% have 251-500 friends
  • 15% have more than 500 friends

Among adult Facebook users, the average (mean) number of friends is 338, and the median (midpoint) number of friends is 200. In other words, half of all Facebook users have more than 200 friends, and half have less than 200.

Younger users tend to have significantly larger friend networks than older users: 27% of 18-29 year old Facebook users have more than 500 friends in their network, while 72% of users age 65+ have 100 friends or fewer.

412% of Facebook users say that someone has asked them to “unfriend” a person in their network.
Younger users are more likely to have experienced this than older users: 19% of 18-29 year old Facebook users have had someone ask them to remove a friend from their network (compared with 10% of 30-49 year olds, 7% of 50-64 year olds, and 5% of those 65 and older).

These “friend removal” requests tend to come primarily from other friends (35%), or from current (23%) or former (12%) spouses or romantic partners. Some 38% of those who received this type of request say that they were asked to remove a friend from their Facebook network, while 22% were asked to unfriend a former romantic partner.

5Facebook users “like” their friends’ content and comment on photos relatively frequently, but most don’t change their own status that often.
When asked about the frequency with which they engage in certain behaviors on the site, Facebook users tend to point towards “liking” content that others have posted and commenting on photos as the activities they engage in most often. On the other hand, most users change or update their own status only occasionally:

  • 44% of Facebook users “like” content posted by their friends at least once a day, with 29% doing so several times per day.
  • 31% comment on other people’s photos on a daily basis, with 15% doing so several times per day.
  • 19% send private Facebook messages to their friends on a daily basis, with 10% sending these messages multiple times per day.
  • 10% change or update their own status on Facebook on a daily basis, with 4% updating their status several times per day. Some 25% of Facebook users say that they never change or update their own Facebook status.

6Half of internet users who do not use Facebook themselves live with someone who does.
Many non-Facebook users still have some familiarity with the site through family members. Among internet users who do not use Facebook themselves, 52% say that someone else in their household has a Facebook account. In many instances, these may be parents who do not use Facebook but live with a child who does. Fully 66% of parents with a child living at home who do not use Facebook themselves say that someone in their household has a Facebook account.

In addition, some 24% of Facebook non-adopters who live with an account holder say that they look at photos or posts on that person’s account.

  1. Photo of Aaron Smith

    is a Senior Researcher at the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Leave a Comment

Or

All comments must follow the Pew Research comment policy and will be moderated before posting.

64 Comments

  1. Jeff Dawson3 weeks ago

    Facebook is falling to the pressure of Wall Street. Mark obviously doesn’t need the money, but investors are demanding higher returns, thus he’s turning it into a running billboard. Like many, he’s forgotten what the original concept was. In the end, this too shall fade into the sunlight.

    Reply
  2. KRISTY CLARK3 weeks ago

    HAPPY 10 YEAR OLD BIRTHDAY FACEBOOK!!

    Reply
  3. bianca logan3 weeks ago

    this is pretty good.. but for a school report I need to know exactly how many people have and or use facebook.. do you think maybe you could add that? thanks!! :)

    Reply
  4. robert christiansen3 weeks ago

    Buddy, once u participate In front of your computer with FB. All of the sudden u have 100 Friends and growing. I read a post from a different sm site. A small boy was sad because he had 160 friends. But he really only knew five. Sad! Lots of concerns still need to be addressed. I told his post to move away from the computer. Psychological problems, depression, bullying, stalking.
    One good thing. People on social media are forgiving. Yes, they can become your friend.
    I’m 53 I really don’t care to text a teenager. So you figure it out. Good luck and god bless

    Reply
  5. Martin1 month ago

    Hi Aaron,

    thanks for your analytics on Facebook. Another trend on facebook we see on entrepreneurial-insights.com is that fans from emerging countries (such as India, Thailand) love basic content on entrepreneurship while fans from developed countries (such as the US, UK) are more engaged with highly specialized content.

    What is your point on that. Did you see a similar pattern?
    Cheers,
    Martin

    Reply
  6. Iulia1 month ago

    Very interesting data! are the data sets available? I looked for them, but I only found something from last year.

    Reply
    1. Aaron Smith1 month ago

      Lulia–these questions come from a much larger study that we are currently in the process of analyzing and writing up. Once we’ve published the larger reports, we’ll make the data available (including the Facebook-specific questions). You can get automated alerts when we post new data by signing up for our newsletter at pewinternet.org.

      Reply
  7. Luana Tabirca2 months ago

    Hi Aaron! I was wondering if there were any individual differences in terms of age in the sample, with regards to the fact that “10% change or update their own status on Facebook on a daily basis, with 4% updating their status several times per day. Some 25% of Facebook users say that they never change or update their own Facebook status.”, especially the last statistic.

    Keep up the great work!

    Thanks

    Reply
  8. Michaela2 months ago

    Great info… Wondering tho if there has been any research done on the differences of male and female liking preferences… I have noticed that there is a much smaller amt of males that like posts compared to women…and was wondering if there were any statistics on it :)

    Reply
    1. Aaron Smith2 months ago

      Hi Michaela, we got some data on this subject in a study we did back in 2012–see pewinternet.org/2012/02/03/why-m…, specifically Part 2 for some comparisons between men and women.

      Reply
    2. Aaron Smith2 months ago

      And in this particular study, women tended to like content with a bit greater frequency than men–49% of women said that they liked content on a daily basis, compared with 38% of men.

      Reply
  9. Robin Bertelsen2 months ago

    In a December 30, 2013 Pew post “Social Media Update 2013 (pewinternet.org/2013/12/30/socia…) the number of adults on Facebook is stated as 71%. In the article above, it’s 57%. Which is accurate?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Lisa2 months ago

      The 71% refers to online adults – adults who use the internet. The 57% refers to all adults.

      Reply
  10. Lake Dolores Oasis2 months ago

    Can someone tell me why Facebook needs me to send them copies of 2 of the following?

    - School or work ID
    - Utility bill
    - Marriage license
    - Legal name change paperwork
    - Credit card (with the number blacked out)
    - Birth certificate

    Doesn’t seem worth it to continue having a account, what happened to right of privacy?

    Reply
    1. Sounds fishy1 month ago

      Facebook does not require any of those things.

      Reply
    2. heye4 weeks ago

      it doesnt require any of these

      Reply
  11. austin2 months ago

    i use facebook but i don’t post alot of stuff on ther because i don’t want to say the rong thing and someone get some vauble info. so i just talk to my friend’s

    Reply
  12. Miranda3 months ago

    Is there any facts on how many suicides happen from this website?

    Reply
  13. AD3 months ago

    I opted out of facebook on a Sunday night, but by Monday morning a Professor required the entire class to sign up for facebook and twitter.

    Facebook is a nice tool, but like anything else, people tend to misuse the technology.

    It seems like one can not rid themselves of social media.

    Reply
  14. Barbara Palvin3 months ago

    Even though I don’t use much facebook anymore, I am glad Mark created it.

    Reply
  15. Roxann Souci3 months ago

    Thanks for your insights.

    Reply
  16. Cody K3 months ago

    In response to why people don’t update their own statuses as often as they like the statuses of their friends, I think it’s obvious. Our Facebook profile is so connected with our personal brand today that we only want to create posts that will shine positively on our personal brand. For more, please see my full response to this article.

    laughtm.wordpress.com/2014/02/22…

    Reply
  17. Lynn3 months ago

    One would think it’s a jungle out there filled with predators. I’d have to see some statistics to believe it’s as bad as it’s so often fretted about.

    Reply
  18. Kerry Randall3 months ago

    Hi I use facebook daily as it keeps me in contact with family and friends. I am daily updated with what is happening and any events that I have been invited to or is told about. So congratulations on reaching 10yrs old wow. Keep updating information.

    Reply
  19. Michael Matusinec3 months ago

    How many senior citizen are on Facebook.

    Reply
  20. Tom Rockett3 months ago

    I tried facebook, didn’t like it and moved on. Now every where I go I am bombarded with their intrusion into my face. Other sites I visit have now sold out and adopted the facebook social plug in and now require a link to my (non existent) facebook account to continue using theirs. Where is my freedom to choose??

    Reply
  21. diane4 months ago

    Very unreliable tool.Who knows what is behind?

    Reply
  22. Liz4 months ago

    I’ve had to report someone for sharing public pictures of my young son. I’d asked the person to take them down or at least make them friends-only, but the person refused to do so and didn’t stop until reports were made on two different occasions. I don’t want pictures of my son publicly available where any predator can easily get ahold of them!!

    Reply
  23. Sketch4 months ago

    I’m a caretaker for two small children as well as a part time photographer. I think it’s absolutely vital to ask for parent’s permission before putting images of minors up for public display. There are a lot of people who steal photos, or use the information to stalk people. Safety for the kids should be the number one priority. The few times I have put photos on the internet, I had the settings so that only people who knew the family personally were able to see. If you need to share pictures of children, I recommend adjusting the settings so that just the people you trust will see them.

    Reply
  24. Rafe N Crystal Reynolds4 months ago

    I love fb. My favorite thing about fb is getting to talk to friends and family from out of state and talk to people you don’t get to see often

    Reply
  25. dacian4 months ago

    One thing that irked me as an ex-FB user is all the sites that require you to sign in with your FB account before you can comment…ex- or non-FB foks are simply cut out of the conversation. And they say it’s to keep the conversation more “civil”.

    Reply
    1. Tom Rockett3 months ago

      Exactly, Your freedom to choose has been erased. Farcebook is everywhere

      Reply
      1. cowbell3 months ago

        i have a phony fb profile for that reason.

        Reply
  26. HJ BOTT4 months ago

    Unfortunately there was no data shown in this study on those of us that have opted OUT. For me, mostly because of the constant trivial posts. I was attempting to use FB as a means to generate discussions about “serious” political issues. It worked with a few hundred FB friends but tapered off in the deluge of “activity” posts about everything but people going to the restroom. FB posts have degenerated to the same level that many people feel a need to constantly text. Remember hand written memos done in duplicate that accomplished much communication & work?

    Reply
  27. Chuck4 months ago

    Annie…I can read It now.
    Chuck

    Reply
  28. Inger Gilbert4 months ago

    I love fb and all my fb friends. I have interesting friends, a must to enjoy this social media. And, yes, my wall is all about me, no one else, unless I have an extreme opinion or concern about something, or someone-it’s all about me. Call it self-glorification, if you wish, bottom line, it is all about me!
    I have also met one of my very best friends on fb, and now we even Skype! I have wonderful discussions with others on a variety of subjects. It’s a real conversation, just as good as face to face. And the conversation can go on for days, without cutting into your busy life.
    As for the complaints of your pictures going public, don’t post you pictures, don’t share your life. Fb is like my own, personal front page. I don’t post anything I don’t want the world to see or read!
    I love FaceBook!

    Reply
  29. darlee874 months ago

    I appreciate the information because I am not alone in disliking Facebook and opting out 6 months ago. It felt wrong to make so much information about me public and I found that learning so much about others was a “downer”. I am much more content and life is so much simpler not having to maintain my FB page and now I have a good excuse when friends ask “where are you”. They do understand and a couple are doing likewise.

    Reply
  30. Gerald Parks4 months ago

    I dislike the practice of sharing non original photos. For myself, genuine personal or family or actual friend photos are more authentic and serves MY purpose, without cluttering up my home view. The accumulation of irrelevant mass shared photos, trite sayings absent any useful news or content. But, as you might imagine I’m 65+ and then some!

    I do have an above average accumulation of photos, dear especially to those from our large family as well as some, I think, quality photos from our travels which seemed to have been well received. For what it’s worth, with close to 100 friends/family I’m considering eliminating a few for the above (friends but not family) or simply non use. Trying not to be too grouchy! Just an alternate view.

    Reply
  31. Merriwether4 months ago

    Facebook’s Janus-faced attitudes repulse me: The service took down the wonderful photo of one woman’s personal victory of losing more than a hundred pounds, saying her picture “glorified an idealized body type.”

    Yet, before and since, their right-hand column shows male visitors constant photos of very busty ladies looking for companions.

    Apparently one must pay Facebook to show an idealized body type. No pay, and their “principles” suddenly kick in.

    Reply
  32. Jerry4 months ago

    With identity theft being such a concern nowadays, why would I share my personal background info with total strangers who might want to make illegal use of it? I see absolutely no benefit or advantage for a senior citizen to partipate. Ask me again in my next life; I may change my mind by then.

    Reply
  33. Amanda Ocallaghan4 months ago

    I reported a problem and they sent the problem to me

    Reply
  34. Richard Gardner4 months ago

    My principal problem with Facebook is that it seems so shallow. Most of what I see and learn from other people is really not that interesting or is really mostly oriented to self glorification. I suspect, that though I have declared I would drop it, I find it more trouble to drop out than not. Also, I did have a couple of followers object to my quitting so I still look at it on occasion.

    Reply
  35. John Witmer4 months ago

    The thing I dislike most about Facebook is my picture winding up in unusual places
    This should be private and under my sole control. I’m often tempted to drop out, but it
    is the primary way some of my children communicate.

    Reply
  36. slk4 months ago

    i punished myself, and discontinued alerts, now i don’t know who doesn’t want to go to work!!!

    Reply
  37. ahmed tharwat4 months ago

    99% of fBook users, say at least once!! , that fBook is like indoor pluming, it keeps us from going out and socialize ..

    Reply
  38. SandraLJ Ireland4 months ago

    This data is very interesting, and I confirms many of the reasons why I discontinued the use of FACEBOOK and GOOGLE+
    One day when there were more than 50 people who wanted to be my friend and I didn’t know any of them, I opted out of FACEBOOK. I am sure they are very nice people, but I like live people in my life. What I do is of no consequence to anyone except the people I’ve named in my will. The rest are strangers.
    I wish everyone well, and I will continue not having to worry if I will be “unfriended” or have to unfriend someone, or if a prospective employer wants FACEBOOK passwords.. etc. I can happily say: “I’m a FACEBOOK FREE ZONE”
    I hope others continue with their fun.. I’m O.K. with my new status quo.

    Reply
    1. Tom Rockett3 months ago

      Good for you, I tried it and then cancelled my account years ago (but they still have all that info) because e-mail, phone and snail mail work just fine thank you not much mr. Zuckerberg

      Reply
  39. Sally McCarty4 months ago

    Interesting study! Were there no reasons for using Facebook that were mentioned more by men than women? You only discuss those that women liked more, or that men and women liked equally.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  40. Chris Moritz4 months ago

    The 73% of U.S. teens stat — is that total registered users or monthly active users?

    Reply
    1. Aaron Smith4 months ago

      Chris–That is based on the stat that 94% of teen social networking site users have a profile on Facebook. If you back that out to all teens you get the 73% figure.

      Reply
  41. Steve4 months ago

    “Facebook turns 10 tomorrow and reaches that milestone as the dominant social networking platform, used by 57% of all adults and 73% of all those ages 12-17.”

    57% of all adults? In the World? In America? In a study of that contained 1,801 participants?

    I would consider the article to be slightly misleading for someone who does not understand how research is conducted and performed. Yes the study is hyperlinked after the first paragraph, but a clear explanation of the data is needed for someone that has zero experience reading research.

    Reply
    1. Andrea Caumont4 months ago

      Thanks for the comment Steve. The sentence you quoted is referring to American adults. We’ve updated the post to clarify.

      Reply
    2. Tom Rockett3 months ago

      Just give up and join them, They know what is best for you – you cannot escape the facebook! Unless enough non users keep complaining about it still being thrown in our faces!

      Reply
  42. Jill4 months ago

    And, according to this internal chart, they are projecting to have more users than there are people on the planet by 2015:
    mankabros.com/blogs/onmedea/2010…

    Reply
    1. Ben4 months ago

      Not a huge shock if you’re aware of the Catfish phenomenon. Users manage multiple accounts in order to deceive others, especially when it comes to their indentity and its applicability to an online-only relationship with someone else.

      Reply
  43. Fred4 months ago

    So, I’m somewhat like half of Facebook users, and dissimilar to half of them. Thanks for the clarification.

    Reply
  44. Kate4 months ago

    I most dislike changes that compromise my privacy by Facebook as well as ads and events being posted on my home page by Facebook and all those urgings to connect to more people being foisted on me by Facebook. It’s a worthwhile service, but their never ending attempts to exploit me is very annoying.

    Reply
    1. Terry Diaz4 months ago

      Theres a great tool that can help you with things like that, it really does make facebook far less annoying by hiding those kind of interface elements that pester you to do stuff you dont want to do. Its called FB Purity, and you can get it free here : fbpurity.com
      Once installed you will wonder how you managed to use the site before it.

      Reply
    2. slk4 months ago

      being on facebook, you’ve already compromised your security!!! every stroke you make, even if you don’t send the comment, facebook knows!!! make sure you read, what you “agree” to!!!

      Reply
      1. Roxann Souci3 months ago

        I think that we must all work under the assumption that NOTHING is private on FB, or anywhere else online.

        Reply
    3. Tom Rockett3 months ago

      Then de-activate your account in protest!

      Reply
  45. Wayne4 months ago

    What I dislike most about Facebook is that the Facebook Fathers often make changes without notice or comment….and I usually prefer the before to the after.

    Reply
    1. slk4 months ago

      they’re very friendly with the wh, even though co-founder eduardo saverin moved to singapore to evade taxes, and not pay his fair share!!!

      Reply
    2. Tom Rockett3 months ago

      Change is not always good for all – but they still keep changing every thing FOR us – for your convenience of course

      Reply