Facebook figures

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
October 15, 2010, 10:43 PM GMT+0

To celebrate the premiere of new film release The Social Network, which tells the story of the creation of the wildly popular social networking phenomenon Facebook, we asked members of the British public who have used Facebook what they think about the site which recently reached 500 million users worldwide and has made billionaires of its founders.

Our results indicate that despite the criticisms sometimes levelled at Facebook, the vast majority of the public uses the site while still enjoying real-life social interaction, and largely do not feel that Facebook has adversely affected their quality of life.

  • 89% of those who have used Facebookstill currently have their own Facebook page.
  • The majority of Facebook users (54%) check their account at least once a day.
  • 97% of users access their account on a home computer or laptop with 17% admitting to checking their page on a work computer.

Finding friends

  • The most popular motive for current Facebook users to check the site is to keep in contact with friends, with 79% citing that reason. Other reasons to log on include those trying to find out what old friends are up to (57%), and to talk to old friends they had previously lost contact with (49%).
  • However only 27% agree that would not be able to keep in contact with their friends without Facebook, compared to 56% who disagree.
  • And it seems we haven’t yet dispensed with real-life conversation: 72% profess to prefer face-to-face interaction compared to just 9% of users who prefer speaking to their friends on Facebook than in the flesh.

Functional Facebook

However, a desire to increase your friend count is not the only motive behind people’s logging on habits.

  • 42% use Facebook as a forum for sharing photos, 21% use it to find out about events or concerts and 13% say they go on to chat with different people who share their interests.
  • And 2% utilise Facebook as a means to ‘hook up’ and arrange dates.

Lifechanging logins

  • A substantial one in five (20%) users say that Facebook has ‘changed their life’
  • And 30% feel that 'Facebook has changed the way people like me live our lives’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this figure is much higher among 18 to 24 year-olds (52%) compared to the over 60s, of whom just 14% feel the same.

Private time?

    Too much time online
  • Logging on to Facebook is often criticised for being a time-wasting activity, but while 63% of users say they find it easy to waste time on the site, only 31% actually thought they spent too much time browsing.
  • Just 11% of the 7% who have deleted their accounts said they did so because they worried they were spending too much time on the site.
  • And while 27% of those who still use their Facebook account profess to be worried about the changes in the site’s privacy settings, 46% aren’t bothered.
  • However, of the 7% who have deleted their Facebook page, the main reasoning behind this move was a worry about privacy (46%).

  • Boredom with the site was the second most popular reason for people to delete their accounts (31%).

The Social Network, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake, comes out in cinemas today.

Survey details and full results here