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Our midweek blog draws on data from our new GWI Social report (download a free summary here) to explore one of the questions we’re asked the most: why does Facebook keep announcing increases in active usage, where GWI’s data has shown consistent drops over the last few quarters.

As if often the case in the world of social networking, it’s all a question of definitions. Compare GWI’s data for Facebook visitors vs Facebook active users, and the results are pretty revealing. In fact, taking the last eight quarters as an example shows that visitation rates have been holding largely steady, whereas active usage has been trending downwards. Clearly, people aren’t necessarily leaving Facebook then, they’re just becoming less likely to interact with it in active ways – and hence, are less and less likely to think of themselves as active users, even if they’re still visiting the site.

That’s crucial in relation to Atlas – given that these visitors are logged in, they can still be served relevant ads accordingly, safeguarding Facebook’s major source of revenue. And if we bear in mind that more than 4 in 5 adult internet users outside of China currently have a Facebook account – and hence have handed over basic demographic information about themselves as well as a degree of behavioral data derived from their usage habits – the potential reach and accuracy of Atlas is impressive.

Want more of the latest social media trends and numbers? Download the full version of GWI Social here.

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