Lurking in Facebook’s stellar quarterly earnings report Thursday were some troubling numbers: The company added fewer daily active users than analysts expected, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that as a result of the company’s moves, the time people spent on the platform dropped by 50 million hours daily. More worrying, in Facebook’s most lucrative market, the US and Canada, the number of people who log on to Facebook every day fell for the first time ever, dropping by 700, 000 to about 184 million. User growth, for users who log on daily and monthly, has been slowing for several years, but the company had not recorded an actual decline.
Moreover, the drop came before the company’s announcement of its latest News Feed changes, which are expected to reduce engagement on the platform, perhaps causing a further drop in users. Over the past year, Facebook has been the center of controversy over fake news, Russian ads aimed to disrupt the 2016 US elections, and its overall policies on what content people can post on the platform.