55% Drop in Facebook’s College-Enrolled Registrations in Past 12 Months

An article on ReadWriteWeb discusses Facebook’s changing demographics, conveyed in the image below. The article focuses on the changing demographics, as the 55+ user base is exploding while the 18-24 range is growing least quickly. It questions how this change will affect Facebook’s market opportunities and whether its college-aged users – once the exclusive user base – is migrating somewhere new.

I think the site has already seen its explosion into the 18-24 base and is now enjoying a similar explosion in the 55+ area. If it had started out as a 55+ exclusive user base we’d witness the same trend in reverse, with 55+ growing slowly and 13-24 blossoming. This is because there is a finite number of people in each age range and the growth cannot continue to multiply at the same rate forever.

It would be interesting to see another study exploring the seeming exodus of college students. The site is growing in college-enrolled users at half the rate it did last year. Graduation should not be a factor because just as many incoming students can be expected to replace the grads. Are the students removing their college affiliation from their page? Or are college students deactivating their accounts on a massive scale?

I have a GreaseMonkey script installed which tracks my Facebook friends and alerts me when one is no longer my friend. Sometimes this means they deleted me as a friend and sometimes it means they’ve deactivated their account. They each seem to be happening at a rate of about 12 friends per month, out of 723 total friends. This trend implies that 20% of my friends are deactivating their accounts each year, though my GreaseMonkey script does not tell me how many of them reactivate their accounts. That is a surprisingly high number, but it doesn’t do much to explain the overall 55% drop in college-enrolled users.