Facebook Still 'Useful' to Teens, Says COO Sheryl Sandberg


Is Facebook losing its teens? Depends who you ask at the 1.19-billion-user social network. Surely, a not-so-insignificant chunk of the service's 728 million daily active users falls between 13 and 19, right?


According to Facebook CFO David Ebersman, speaking in the company's third-quarter earnings call in late October, teen activity seems to be a bit down on the social network.


'Our best analysis on youth engagement in the US reveals that usage of Facebook among US teens overall was stable from Q2 to Q3, but we did see a decrease in daily users, specifically among younger teens,' Ebersman said.


While the statement appeared to confirm thoughts that little ones are turning elsewhere for their social fixes – including services like Snapchat, formerly Instagram (which Facebook now owns), and Tumblr, as well as a variety of other messaging services like WeChat and WhatsApp — that's not quite the end of the tale as far as Facebook's teen activity goes.


Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has now jumped into the fray, and she's telling a bit of a different story. Speaking to AllThingsD's Mike Isaac, Sandberg recently commented that reaction to Ebersman's statements 'has been blown out of proportion.'


'As we said on the earnings call, overall U.S. teen usage of Facebook remains stable. The vast majority of U.S. teens are on Facebook. And the majority of U.S. teens use Facebook almost every day,' Sandberg commented.


She went on to address one of the general problems she perceives with Facebook, in that the service — close to celebrating its tenth birthday in February of next year — is starting to feel a bit aged in today's web culture.


'That means that we're not the newest. And often, particularly in our space, newer things are shinier and cooler. And what Mark [Zuckerberg] has said and what we all believe is that we're not trying to be the coolest. And we're not trying to be the newest. We're trying to be the most useful,' Sandberg said.


'I think if you look at the way teenagers continue to use Facebook, we are useful to them,' she added.


She sees Facebook at the forefront of the 'sharing' space – which is to say, Facebook and all the other social services competing for users' attentions are benefitting from the growing mass of users that are sharing more parts of their lives online.


'There's a lot of competition out there, but it's amid a growing market. That means there's room for us to grow and others to grow as well,' Sandberg said.


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