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Facebook losing altitude to Twitter and Instagram

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As Facebook turns 10, social media sites that lose their "cool factor" are endangered.

In the wake of Facebook confirming last fall that the number of young teens who use the site has declined, a newly-released survey shows that overall use of the world's most popular social media may also be declining.

The survey, conducted by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future and Bovitz, Inc., found that almost one-third of all Facebook users will use the service less within five years.

In addition, the survey also found that current use of Twitter and Instagram is growing rapidly.

"The growth of Twitter and Instagram show that users are eager to get their voices out there in a quick and engaging way," said Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future, a research institute with USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. 

"Social media users – teens and Millennials especially – are craving to be heard," Cole said. "Microblogs like Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr are becoming the most powerful way to deliver their messages.  It's all about having a highly visible personal presence online that can be communicated quickly – if anyone is listening."

"The growth of Twitter and Instagram show that users are eager to get their voices out there in a quick and engaging way."

The new findings reinforce two predictions by Cole about the erosion in the use of mass-market social media sites by young audiences:  In 2005, Cole predicted that the young user base at MySpace would decline – "MySpace lost its 'cool factor' when young users saw that their older siblings and parents had begun using it," said Cole.

In 2010, Cole said that Facebook would continue to grow overall for at least five years, while at the same time, lose some of its appeal to young audiences.   

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"Facebook won't collapse as a social platform as MySpace did; it now has more than one billion users, and should reach at least 1.5 billion users – a phenomenal number – with especially strong growth in developing countries," Cole said.

"Facebook paid $1 billion for Instagram and unsuccessfully offered $3 billion for Snapchat," said Cole.  "If Facebook wants to maintain its dominance among teenagers, it will have to continue to open its checkbook and write multi-billion dollar checks."

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