Yesterday we reported on a story that had originally appeared in the Guardian, claiming that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) had lost 10 million users in the twelve months ending March 2013. After a Nielsen source confirmed our suspicions, it is clear that the way in which The Guardian presented the facts of the article lacked context, and was
We had already been burned by the Guardian earlier in the week, after the paper reported that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) had lost 4 percent of its US users in March. The analyst who supplied the figures told The Next Web that the way in which the paper used the statistics was entirely wrong, and the conclusions were fallacious.
According to Nielsen, Facebook.com had 142.1 million unique visitors during March 2013 on the web in the US. In March 2012 Facebook.com had 152.8 million Americans visiting their website using a browser. The company saw a drop of ten million unique visitors visiting the site from desktop and laptop computers.
There are two major problems with the Guardian piece. The first is that the company conflates the term “unique visitor” with the term “user.” When talking about Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) “user” means something very specific. The second is the idea that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) relies on desktop users, and that the drop in those numbers matters.
Nielsen says that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) had 99 million mobile app users in March 2013, compared to 62 million in March 2012. This number is expected to continue to rise as consumers increasingly move to social networks on mobile rather than desktop.
We were skeptical in the original piece because of the way that the Guardian had used Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) data before. The confirmation from Nielsen demonstrates the way in which statistics can be conflated to make the expected a disaster.
Nielsen does not have data on how many users Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has. Mobile users are at least as important to Facebook as desktop users. The Guardian got it wrong.
The Guardian is running with the idea that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is losing users. After the company posted the article with the data from SocialBakers, it asked its users why they were leaving Facebook, and what their problems with the social network are. Users responded in the comments and the best of those were reprinted in the article.
As of right now, the Guardian has no evidence suggesting that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is losing users in the United States.