Facebook's days may be numbered as United Kingdom youth abandon the platform

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The social network is expected to shed 18-to-24-year-old users this year for the first time, according to a new report from eMarketer, which predicts a 5.6 decline for the age group on Facebook.

The reality: The number of U.S. Facebook users in the 12- to 17-year-old demographic declined by 9.9 percent in 2017, eMarketer found, or about 1.4 million total users.

The report says that while Facebook has so far been successful in keeping hold of younger users shifting to services such as Instagram, which it bought in 2012 for $1bn, defectors are now increasingly heading to upstart Snapchat.

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More than 500,000 new over-55s are expected to sign up to Facebook in 2018, which will leave 6.4mln 55 to 65-year-olds on the platform - the second biggest demographic after 16 to 34-year-olds. For the first time in Facebook history, this year, less than half of all United States internet users that fall in that age category are predicted to use Facebook at least once a month.

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg described past year as a "hard one" - but although the company remains the world's most popular social network, with more than two billion users worldwide, it may need to reinvent itself to appeal to a new generation of digital natives.

eMarketer predicts Instagram will add 1.6 million users ages 24 and younger.

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The company is trying to boost Snapchat's appeal in older age-groups by redesigning the platform and making it easier to use. Snapchat, meanwhile, will see its user base increase by 9.3 per cent to 86.5 million, eMarketer said. Younger people are essentially a metric for what is popular at any given moment in time, and for Facebook, the numbers indicate that it's losing that edge. It's also believed that Facebook-owned app Instagram will grow by 13 percent to 105 million users in 2018.

A previous survey by RBC Capital on social media in December had shown how Snapchat is favourite among teenagers in the U.S., a space that everyone would like to occupy.

Facebook will still be the dominant social network of the two in 2018, however, with 169.5 million U.S. users compared to Snapchat's 86.5 million USA users.

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Facebook's uncool status has been made fun of on Twitter for years. "Facebook isn't just Facebook, they've got Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp". But there were controversies, too: allegations of Russians meddling in the election, fake news, metrics errors, and a growing body of research showing how using social media can harm mental health. "That's the predicament Facebook is in", the report noted.