Facebook stock drops after report of usership decline

Two months after its momentous - and massive - initial public offering, Facebook’s fortunes appear to be on a steady downturn. The social network is ranking low on customer satisfaction surveys, reportedly shedding members, and seeing its shares slip far below their initial $38 (£24) pricing.

Despite having nearly a billion users, Facebook is the least-liked social media site, according to an American Customer Satisfaction Index ranking. Its score of 61 out of a possible 100 points marks an eight per cent drop from its last rating, and puts it two points below MySpace’s last score in 2010. Even Google+, which has been slammed by social media diehards and pundits, rated considerably better than Facebook, racking up 78 points.

"Google+'s strengths may be Facebook's weaknesses, as users complain about ads and privacy concerns. However, the most frequent complaints about Facebook are changes to its user interface, most recently the introduction of the Timeline feature,” the group said, also noting that Google+ is considered by customers to be a better mobile product.

Facebook’s failure to keep customers satisfied could explain why its membership is dropping. Both European and US membership decreased over the past six months, according to Capstone Investments analyst Rory Maher, who tracked user numbers in more than 200 countries.

In the US, Maher measured a 1.1 per cent decrease in usership, Bloomberg reports. During that same six-month period, Facebook also lost users in 14 of the 23 countries in which it boasts a market penetration of more than 50 per cent. In the remaining nine countries, there was little to no growth, though Maher reported an upturn in Asian and Latin American users.

Amidst that sobering news, Facebook’s shares have dropped significantly, with its stock falling 8.1 per cent on 16 July and 0.6 per cent the next day. Shares of Zynga, the game developer behind FarmVille whose revenues come mostly from Facebook gaming, fell 5.2 per cent.

Facebook has lost a third of its value since its record $104 billion (£66 billion) valuation in May, and its IPO, which sparked fears of yet another bubble, has since resulted in a shareholder lawsuits and a Nasdaq investigation.

Given this recent string of less-than-ideal news, a recent bold prediction that the social network could be extinct by 2020 seems a little more likely.