The surge in growth Facebook saw at the start of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be slowing down. User growth in the United States in Canada — the company’s most lucrative ad market — has declined, Facebook reported as part of its third-quarter earnings.
The company now has 196 million users in North America, down slightly from 198 million last quarter. In a statement, the company said the decrease was expected, and could continue through the end of the year.
“As expected, in the third quarter of 2020, we saw Facebook DAUs and MAUs in the US & Canada decline slightly from the second quarter 2020 levels which were elevated due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Facebook wrote in a press release. “In the fourth quarter of 2020, we expect this trend to continue and that the number of DAUs and MAUs in the US & Canada will be flat or slightly down compared to the third quarter of 2020.”
Facebook lost users in the US this quarter + company expects it will lose more next as people get back to more "normal" use post-COVID pic.twitter.com/fWPn2b60zc
— Karissa Bell (@karissabe) October 29, 2020
The company had previously reported a large surge in growth at the start of the year due to widespread coronavirus lockdowns. Facebook isn’t seeing the same slowdown everywhere, though, and the social network is continuing to add new users in Asia and its “rest of world” markets. The company also continued to tout its “family of apps” metrics, which combines Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. That number rose to 2.54 billion “daily active people” in September, according to the company.
The slowdown also doesn’t seem to have affected Facebook’s revenue, which was up to $21.4 billion for the quarter, an increase of 22 percent from last year and better than analyst expectations for the company. Facebook reported more than $18 billion in ad revenue last quarter, despite a well-publicized advertiser boycott.
During a call with analysts, CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasized Facebook’s work to prepare for the upcoming election, and said he’s worried about the possibility of “civil unrest” after election day. The company has taken numerous steps over the last several weeks and months to prepare for the election, like banning political ads after election day and cracking down on QAnon.
“I'm worried that with our nation so divided and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalized, there is a risk of civil unrest across the country,” Zuckerberg said.