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Facebook’s UK user figures don’t add up

I’ve been working on some UK specific Facebook usage figures. By collating the information provided by Facebook and the figures from the ONS, I get a pretty confusing picture. The trends are as we would expect to see from everyone’s anecdotes (2% of users are 65+ etc) but the specifics are a bit muddy.

Specifically, when we look at the relationship between Facebook users and total UK population. Is it really possible for 117% of women between 19 and 24 to have an account?

Clearly not, so why the dodgy figures? Here are my top guesses:

  • UK population figures are impossible to get right
  • People are lying about their age (younger people saying they’re over 13 to get an account and older people pretending they’re younger)
  • Foreign students skew the figures
  • People have more than one account
  • Of course, Facebook could be inflating their reach figures when reporting to their advertisers but that wouldn’t be cricket would it!

I’m sure its a mixture of all of these guesses but the last one is worrying if we’re basing online advertising decisions on the figures Facebook are publishing.

You can get all the figures in a handy pdf from my UK web usage statistics page.

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