Facebook wants to attract young people, but Gen Z teens say it's a 'boomer social network' made for 'old people'
Teens are using Facebook less than they used to.
Mark Zuckerberg announced in an earnings call that he wants the platform to focus on young users.
Insider spoke with several teens who said there's nothing that Facebook can do to entice them.
Facebook was once a hub for young people, but that's changed in the last decade, according to numerous studies - and despite the company's efforts, four teens interviewed by Insider said they're not interested in joining the platform.
Back in 2012, 94% of teens had a Facebook account, a Pew Research survey of 12- to 17-year-olds found. Almost 10 years later, only 27% of adolescents say they're on the platform, according to a 2021 survey of 10,000 teenagers conducted by Piper Sandler.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg aspires to end the youth exodus from his company's flagship platform, saying on a Q3 earnings conference call on Monday that he wants Facebook to make "serving young adults the north star."
But with its current user base, that won't be so easy. Facebook predicts teen users of its flagship app to plummet by 45% over the next two years, adding to a 13% drop since 2019, according to data obtained by The Verge. That data was found in part through internal documents leaked by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen to the SEC and earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.
"Our products are still widely used by teens, but we face tough competition from the likes of Snapchat and TikTok," Joe Osborne, a spokesperson for Facebook, told the Verge when they asked about the internal documents referenced above. "All social media companies want teens to use their services. We are no different."
Several Zoomers, many of whom said they used Facebook-owned Instagram but not Facebook's flagship platform, told Insider there's nothing the company could do to get them to sign up.
Some teens cite older users and criticism of Zuckerberg as reasons for rejecting Facebook
Insider spoke to several teens who gave a variety of reasons for spurning Facebook, including Zuckerberg's history and the platform's increasingly older demographic.
Trey Blevins, a 19-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan, said he preferred other social media platforms like Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. Facebook has owned Instagram since it purchased the app for $1 billion in 2012. The image-sharing platform is very popular among youth, with 81% of the 1,000 teens surveyed in the Piper Sandler survey reporting that they used Instagram.
"I get enough horrible political takes and mental/emotional exhaustion from Instagram and Twitter," he said.
Blevins added that he thinks Zuckerberg's decision-making is unethical, despite Zuckerberg's own influence at Instagram.
Blevins appeared to be referencing how Zuckerberg and the company have frequently faced backlash for their role in political conflicts and dramas, like in 2020 when Zuckerberg chose to leave up Facebook posts by former President Donald Trump that appeared to threaten protesters.
Other platforms are beating Facebook when it comes to teens
Zuckerberg said on the earnings call that rivalries between Facebook and other apps have grown fiercer over the last few years, with TikTok being "one of the most effective competitors we've ever faced." In the same Piper Sandler report that found only 27% of teens said they used Facebook, 73% of them said they were on TikTok.
Alexis, a 14-year-old from Northern Virginia, told Insider over email she doesn't use Facebook "because it's for old people" and that she prefers TikTok and Instagram because that's where she meets her friends and learns about viral trends. She added that TikTok, in particular, is "great for making funny videos."
"My parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents all use Facebook," she said. "I've always seen it as a place for older people and I don't want to see my feed full of their business, neighborhood rants, and memes they think are funny."
Jayden, a 16-year-old from London who said he only used Instagram and Snapchat, told Insider he doesn't "understand the purpose" of Facebook in the first place. The content on Facebook is "too random," Simpson said.
Megan Baron, a 19-year-old from Ohio who uses Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube, cited privacy concerns as one of the reasons she does not use Facebook, adding that the platform "seems so toxic." There have been multiple instances when Facebook users' private personal data was stolen or leaked, most famously in 2018, when the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica mined 50 million users' data. In April of this year, a hacker posted purported personal information for over 500 million Facebook users on an online forum.
Karin von Abrams, a principal analyst at the market research company eMarketer - which is now an Insider company called Insider Intelligence - told the Independent in 2018 that young users were fleeing the platform because they wanted "something beyond utility" and fresher "features and functions" that newer platforms like Instagram and Snapchat offer.
Teens say they're not sure what Facebook could do to attract them
The teens interviewed by Insider said they had no idea what Facebook could add to its platform to beat other social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok and make them want to join the website.
"I have no idea what Facebook would have to do to make me use it," Baron told Insider over Twitter. "It just seems like such a boomer social network."
"Honestly I don't think anything," the 19-year-old Blevins said of what Facebook could do to coax him into signing up. "I know they've introduced stories and stuff, the typical way most social media platforms rip off their competitors, but there's nothing on Facebook that really appeals to me that the other apps don't already have."
"There are too many better alternatives for me to use FB," Jayden said.
Alexis put it simply: "As long as older people are on there, I am not using Facebook."
Read the original article on Insider