Facebook’s UK market share drops by a quarter over privacy concerns

While it is still the most-popular social media network in the UK, fake news and the Cambridge Analytica scandal have taken their toll

FILE - In this April 30, 2019, file photo attendees take a selfie in front of a Facebook sign at F8, the Facebook's developer conference in San Jose, Calif. Facebook reports financial results on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

Facebook’s market share in the UK fell 23 per cent since August last year, as the social media giant faces criticism over a string of privacy-related issues, a report found.

The US company's market share in the UK is now 37.3 per cent, a drastic drop from 60.5 per cent in August, according to data compiled by London financial publication Learn Bonds.

The company attributed the fall in market share to factors such as fake news and the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“Facebook experienced the largest market share in January 2017 when it controlled about 87.08 per cent of the market. Since then, Facebook’s web visit share in the UK embarked on a downward trajectory with notable fluctuations,” said the report.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal “questioned the social media platform’s ability to protect users’ private data”, Learn Bonds added.

The report did not divulge the number of users and the data does not include users of other Facebook products including WhatsApp and Instagram.

In July last year, US regulators approved a $5 billion (Dh18.3bn) privacy settlement with Facebook to resolve the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, following a long-running investigation into the tech company's handling of user data.

The investigation started in March 2018 after the consulting company, hired by US President Donald Trump’s campaign team, obtained user data from a researcher who created a personality quiz app on the social network.

Facebook’s UK market share dropped to 44.6 per cent in October – falling below 50 per cent for the first time.

However, despite losing a significant number of users, Facebook still holds the top spot in the UK market. The microblogging platform Twitter is closing in on Facebook with a share of 35.7 per cent.

"If Facebook continues to decline in market share, Twitter might emerge as the top social networking platform across the UK," said Learn Bonds.

The photo-sharing platform Instagram is the third-ranked UK social media platform at 14.3 per cent, while Pinterest, at 9.1 per cent, came in fourth position.

However, Facebook sees a growth in the number of users in other markets.

In the US and Canada, its user base rose to 190 million in the last three months of 2019, from 189 million a quarter earlier. In Europe overall, it increased to 294 million from 288 million in the prior quarter.

The company netted $21.08bn in revenue in the last quarter of 2019, a yearly increase of 24.7 per cent, Facebook said on Wednesday.