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Update: Facebook reports its first ever loss in users

A previous issue of this article was published before Meta's latest earnings report came out Wednesday night. This story was based on a forecast that was conducted prior to Meta’s earnings reports. See our updated story on Meta's earnings report here.

Updated story: Facebook reported a decline in users in 2021, the first such loss reported in the social network’s history, per an earnings report from Meta. The platform lost half a million users in the last quarter, declining to 1.93 billion daily active users.

We previously projected Facebook would add 96 million users worldwide in 2021, making last year the first time the social network failed to add over 100 million users. Instead, Facebook actually lost users, indicating a harder hit than we projected.

In its figures, which have always been above our estimates, Facebook reported its most drastic slowdown ever, confirming that its rapid growth days could be a thing of the past.

Our previous forecast: Facebook was projected to pass 2 billion users worldwide in 2021 and hit 2.10 billion by the end of this year. But despite boasting a massive user base, growth on the platform declined dramatically in 2021 and will slow to a trickle in years to come.

Dive deeper:

  • We projected Facebook would add about 96 million users worldwide in 2021, making last year the first time the social network failed to add over 100 million users.
  • In 2021, we projected growth would be the fastest in the Middle East and Africa (8.0%) and in the Asia Pacific regions (7.1%) as an increase in internet users led to an increase in Facebook users. Facebook's growth was projected to be slowest in North America (0.7%) and Europe (1.4%).
  • 2022 will mark the highest level of Facebook internet user penetration worldwide before internet user growth starts to outpace Facebook growth.

Looking ahead: Facebook's days of viral growth are long gone. The app will see a trickle of new users in the tens of thousands range through 2025. Despite this, parent company Meta is continuing to reimagine what its platform can look like, moving away from growing out Facebook and toward building the metaverse.