There are 2,200 million Facebook accounts in the world. That's almost a third of humanity. There are few things shared by a third of humanity and that is spread across all countries. No religion is so expanded, no language or culture. Email is one of the few things more dominant than Facebook, with more than 5,000 million accounts.
But the news is not that. The news is that Facebook can still grow more and in the countries where it already has a ceiling, it manages to maintain itself. Facebook gives data by continents or by age groups, but it is the first time that a study offers the numbers in detail of users by country, of their specific ages and gender and of the daily or monthly use of Facebook.
In developed countries it does not show any serious symptoms of tiredness
The results are overwhelming. Facebook is in more than 200 countries. Except for cases like Iran, Syria, North Korea or China, where it is prohibited, millions of people in Africa and Central Asia are still within reach. In developed countries it does not show any serious symptoms of tiredness or marked decrease in use. Its stability is commendable: "Facebook is an active and healthy network because it still has some capacity for growth and because people who have been using it for years continue to do so." It is not declining, "says Rubén Cuevas, a professor of Telecommunications at the Carlos III University.
Cuevas is with Ángel Cuevas, also a professor at Carlos III, and Yonas Mitike Kassa, PhD student at the IMDEA Networks Institute in Legané, author of the scientific article from which these data come. The method of obtaining the figures is easy to understand. Facebook offers its advertisers an application with hundreds of personal, geographical or taste options to choose their audience. The researchers created a program that told the application that they were going to place an ad, for example in France, and they wanted to know how many users there were in the country. So for each country. "Facebook shows low to moderate growth in most of the countries analyzed," the text says. To certify the process, it was done during 17 months divided into two stages of 2015 and 2018. The article is in the second review phase in the journal IEEE Access.
The work allows to observe the depth of Facebook when cataloging its users. The network allows you to choose your users not only for your "place of residence", but also for "recent place" or "in trip". The authors have obviously used the "place of residence" label to define the country of origin.
In most African and Central Asian countries, Facebook has a penetration of less than 30% in people over 13 years old, the legal minimum age to register on the network. To keep growing, Facebook needs more potential users in those countries. In the background you need the internet to reach more places. Thus, the company invests in infrastructure for the internet in Africa and in other developing countries.
Since 2015, its main tool is Free Basics, an application developed by Facebook that gives access without paying mobile data to a selection of websites without photos or videos in dozens of countries. This September, Facebook has announced an agreement with The Internet Society to bring Internet Exchange Points (IXP) to African countries that still have to rely on infrastructure outside their borders to offer internet, which caused bad connections. Facebook will discover its next hundreds of millions of users. "In developing countries, Facebook grows more in urban areas with a lot of employed people, which is their fishing ground for potential users," explains Ángel Cuevas.
In advanced countries, meanwhile, Facebook has peaked but is not in decline. Norway is probably the country with more Facebook in the world: only 12% of the population does not have an account and the rest, 76 is a daily user. Sweden and Denmark move in similar figures. In southern Europe, Italy and Portugal are the most active countries: 30% of citizens over 13 do not have an account, but 70% of those who do have a look at it every day. Spain is slightly below, with 65% of active users and slightly more than 30% of those over 13 without an account. In the United States, the country whose users receive more advertising revenue from Facebook, only 11.3% of those over 13 do not have Facebook, although only 66% enter daily.
In July 2018 Facebook declared that it had 1,450 million active users worldwide. Your advertising application gives some less. It may be due to the way of calculating: "Facebook could consider for a type of calculation as daily users who are at least 1 minute a day, or who are at least 3 minutes or just open session," explains Rubén Cuevas.
And the taxes?
Facebook does not give user figures by country. But it does give its average revenue per user from ads on each continent. In the second quarter of 2018 it was 8.62 euros for each user in Europe. With the number of users per country, a simple calculation can be made. If in Spain 65% of the population over 13 has an account, that implies about 25 million. The result is that Facebook enters more than 200 million euros through advertising in Spain. In 2017, however, it declared losses of almost one million euros in its Spanish subsidiary.
FACEBOOK USERS BY AGE
Data for June 2018. The light colored bars represent the users who use the social network on a daily basis, in dark color the total users.
The article confirms the lack of attraction of Facebook among teenagers. The number of discharges goes up at age 18, which may have something to do with coming of age: "The jump to 18 is not casual, they are teenagers whose parents did not allow Facebook until they reached the age of majority," she says. David García, researcher at the Complexity Science Hub in Vienna.
Those motives can be the paternal prohibition or the lack of interest, but either way it is not at the moment a serious symptom of aging for Facebook: "The pyramid is compared for several years and is stable, if the 13-year-old is unrecoverable, the group of 14 should be the same, but as people get older they get hooked on Facebook, "says Rubén Cuevas. If Facebook were a country, it would be a place where people emigrate with twenty years and then they do not leave anymore.
If Facebook were a country, it would be a place where people emigrate with twenty years and then they do not leave anymore
The peak that the pyramid shows at age 25 is due to the fact that Facebook is the default age in its form. Many users do not bother to touch it. Another interesting detail is the immense booty that is the third age for Facebook. No social network can offer such an audience to its advertisers.
This almost monopolistic, seemingly endless domain has not been affected at the moment by the Cambridge Analytica crises, fake news or violence in countries such as Myanmar, Sri Lanka or the Philippines. In Myanmar, where Facebook has provoked attacks against the Rohingya minority, the words "Facebook" and "Internet" are synonymous. The country lived under a military junta until 2011. Today more than half of its population has a Facebook account and of those, 44% use it daily. The lack of control in the growth is extraordinary.
Despite the solidity and the tendency, nothing is forever on the Internet. Facebook reigns today, but before there have been other falls: "We have seen how many social networks have gone to hell before: Friendster, MySpace, Orkut, some replaced the others and simply the last link in the chain is Facebook", says David Garcia Criticism for alleged monopoly, millions in fines for hacking, fear of lack of privacy or tiredness of boredom among users are daily threats to Facebook. At the moment, however, nothing affects him.