Despite a strong showing in the fourth quarter Facebook Inc.'s (FB) user base growth may slow in 2017 if a new study from Bridge Ratings proves true. The research firm found people in all age groups are using Facebook less than in years past.

While Facebook is still the dominant force in social media, between 2012 and 2017, the number of people who say they are using it has declined with the largest dropoff coming from people between the ages of 35 and 44. According to Bridge Ratings in 2012 a quarter of people between the ages of 35 and 44 said they don’t go on Facebook, and that jumped to 41% in January. Millennials are still using the social media network, but at a slower rate, with Bridge Ratings finding 31% of Millennials didn’t use Facebook as much in 2012, and that stands at 35% in 2017.

A Second Opinion

While Bridge Ratings is forecasting fewer users turning to Facebook in 2017, market research firm eMarketer is painting a different picture. It is forecasting close to nine in 10 social network users will log on to Facebook monthly during 2017. eMarketer predicts Facebook will increasingly become a platform for consumers to access video content and will thus maintain its popularity. Between 2017 and 2021, eMarketer predicts there will be 12.9 million new users on Facebook in the U.S. with the social media company seeing a growth rate of between 2.7% and 1.3% during the forecast period. Strikingly, close to half of all of the new users will be adults 65 and older.

The mixed messages in terms of the growth of Facebook users comes at a time the company appears to be firing on all cylinders, at least based on its recent earnings report. Despite rising competition from Snapchat, Facebook’s fourth-quarter daily active users (DAUs) rose 16% year over year to 1.23 billion, topping forecasts of 1.21 billion. Monthly active users (MAUs) also topped forecasts, reaching 1.86 billion, above the 1.84 billion expected. Just as impressive was the 21% jump in mobile MAUs, which reached 1.74 billion. (See also: Snap Inc. Moves Closer to IPO.)

"Our mission to connect the world is more important now than ever," said CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the time. "Our business did well in 2016, but we have a lot of work ahead to help bring people together."

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