Kiwi: Facebook loses its cool

THE BOSS: Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook.
THE BOSS: Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook.

Facebook is losing its shine among Kiwi teenagers, probably because their parents are flocking to it.

Auckland digital strategist Justin Flitter said the number of younger users opting to delete their Facebook accounts was "staggering" and he questioned whether it was a snowball effect or simply a natural transition. "If you look at it, 13 to 15-year-olds are leaving. Is that because Facebook is just not cool any more? But in saying that, among a lot of the older people, it's growing."

Almost half the country's population are Facebook users, with around 2.3 million New Zealanders signed up, said Social Baker, a website which measures social media patterns and trends.

However, in the past three months, 8380 people between the ages of 13 and 17 - who make up 13 per cent of the country's users - have left the site.

In contrast, 13,500 people over the age of 55 joined the site in the same time period. Over 55s also account for 13 per cent of the country's users - a trend that will continue to grow as Facebook has become "a part of everyday life", making it socially acceptable.

Flitter said the way the market works online would have to change if advertisers want to keep in touch with the younger generation who are moving toward sites like Twitter, Tumblr and mobile-specific applications where they can chat to their friends.

Those sites also allowed users a "very specific degree of anonymity" whereas Facebook was specifically linked to someone's identity.

"I guess there's a lot of discussion about privacy online and not wanting your employer, your mum or dad to see what you're posting about," he said.

Hamilton man Christian Rika, 20, deleted his account because of the "noise" his friends made online and the distraction Facebook represented.

Privacy and online anonymity were also reasons.

"It became a dumping ground for irrelevant information that I wasn't interested in," he said. "Another part of it was study, and I spent way too much time online procrastinating."

Rika, who believes the "most important thing" about social media is the conversations he has with his friends, has a big presence on Twitter and uses applications like Google chat and basic text messaging.

"I've been on some friends' [Facebook] accounts and had a look at their newsfeeds and photos from parties and I didn't feel that I was missing out," he said.

Sunday Star Times