Facebook Vacation: 61 Percent Of Users Say They’ve Taken One

facebook-globe-world-200A new Pew survey on Facebook usage patterns leads me to want to coin a new term: “Facay” — for “Facebook vacation.” According to survey data collected in December, “61 percent of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more.”

Pew says that its data, based on a survey of 1,006 US adults, “indicate there is considerable fluidity in the Facebook user population.” In addition to the above finding, 20 percent of survey respondents say they no longer use Facebook, while 8 percent who do not are interested in joining.

Among the reasons for “taking a break” from Facebook, “being too busy” was the top reason. Other reasons included lack of interest, lack of relevant content, waste of time and too much gossip or “drama.” Pew says the 20 percent who’ve stopped using Facebook cite the same types of reasons.

Pew: Facebook Vacation Reasons

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

One interpretation of these data is that a significant percentage of users are ambivalent about or only loosely connected to Facebook, a danger sign for the company if these findings are broadly representative of its US user population as a whole. However 59 percent of Facebook users also said the site was as important to them as a year ago and 53 percent said they’re spending the same amount of time on the site as a year ago.

A smaller group (12 percent) said Facebook had become more important to them over the past year and 13 percent reported that they’re spending more time on the site than a year ago. Women are more likely to be in this group of Facebook “increasers.” In contrast to that 28 percent of Facebook users said the site was now less important to them and 34 percent said their time on the site had decreased compared with last year.

Pew also asked survey respondents to project their anticipated, 2013 Facebook usage patterns. Here’s what they said:

  • 3 percent say they plan to spend more time on the site in the coming year
  • 27 percent say they plan to spend less time on the site
  • 69 percent say they plan to spend the same amount of time on the site

Pew: Facebook future plans

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

As indicated, the first question to ask about this is: how much can it be generalized to Facebook’s entire population? Pew’s surveys and data collection methodologies are generally rigorous. But this is a US sample and it’s not clear whether any of these findings would translate to audiences abroad.

Interestingly privacy concerns were cited by only 4 percent as being a reason for taking a “Facay.” That suggests that Facebook doesn’t have the huge privacy problem we in the technosphere always image it does.

The bottom line is that the data suggest a meaningful chunk of Facebook’s usage is shaky. This argues in my mind in favor of developing more “utilitarian” tools and functions such as Graph Search and Facebook Nearby that may become integrated into people’s daily lives.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Facebook | Facebook: Business Issues | Facebook: Privacy | Facebook: Statistics | Statistics: Popularity & Usage | Statistics: Social Media


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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