Rumor: Facebook lost 6 million accounts in the US [Update]

Has Facebook reached its peak of popularity, at least here in the US? While the massive social networking site is still growing and approaching the 700 million mark, its overall worldwide growth has actually slowed, according to data from the Inside Facebook web site. The site claims that Facebook had 687 million users by the start of June. The site gained 11.8 million more users in May, following 13.9 million users last April. However the site claims that typically Facebook gained 20 million users per month over the past 12 months.

Part of the reason for the possible slower growth is that Facebook actually lost users here in the US. Inside Facebook claims that US users fell from 155.2 million to 149.4 million in May, a decrease of about 6 million users. The site says that this is the first time in the past year that the US actually lost Facebook users. Our neighbors to the north in Canada also abandoned Facebook last month; it went down by 1.52 million users to 16.6 million. Other countries like the UK, Norway and Russia also lost Facebook customers.

In a follow up story, however, Inside Facebook states that "a person close to the company tells us that the site is 'still growing in the US.'" In addition, the web site also used third party sites like Compete, comScore, Google Ad Planner and Quantcast to see if Facebook's growth is slowing. The results were inconclusive with some sites recording growth and others showing declines.

Update - In a story on the BBC web site, a Facebook spokesperson denied that Facebook was losing users, saying, "Some of these reports use data extracted from our advertising tool, which provides broad estimates on the reach of Facebook ads and isn't designed to be a source for tracking the overall growth of Facebook." However it did not provide specific numbers that showed growth for the site.

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