Facebook age data may not be reliable, says Facebook.
Facebook has always warned about the validity of its key metrics, such as:
- Daily active users (DAUs)
- Mobile DAUs
- Monthly active users (MAUs)
- Mobile MAUs
- Average revenue per user (ARPU)
These metrics are calculated using Facebook’s internal data. User behavior may skew the results. For example, people may maintain more than one account. This is a violation of Facebook’s policies, but it may happen. (Ed note: This is our shocked face.)
In its recent Form 10-K, Facebook included a new caveat regarding the data for its younger users. Is this bad? Facebook wants these users, but data points suggest that younger users are jumping ship.
Don’t fret, Facebook tells advertisers and investors. The data regarding declining use by younger users may not be reliable.
“For example, while user-provided data indicates a decline in usage among younger users, this age data is unreliable because a disproportionate number of our younger users register with an inaccurate age.”
So Facebook worked to make it more reliable. How is that working out?
“These models suggested that usage by U.S. teens overall was stable, but that DAUs among younger U.S. teens had declined. The data and models we are using are not precise and our understanding of usage by age group may not be complete.”
In one respect, Facebook is downplaying its declining usage by younger users. However, Facebook also recognizes the danger of losing the “Cool Factor” among younger users.
“We believe that some of our users, particularly our younger users, are aware of and actively engaging with other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook, and we believe that some of our users have reduced their engagement with Facebook in favor of increased engagement with these other products and services.”
Facebook recognizes that competition, particularly for the younger audience, in online and mobile applications is fierce. Facebook must keep fighting to keep these users. Calling the data “unreliable” does not change the perception or the risk of losing these users.