Washington: A lowdown is visible in the number of facebook users since April as the monthly data shows a significant decline. The drop is prominent in some regions, mostly the USA and Canada, according to new data from Facebook monitoring site Inside Facebook.

According to a June 12 report by Inside Facebook, the social network is continuing to grow, reaching around 687 million monthly active users by the start of June. The majority of new users is late adopters and come from countries such as India, the Philippines and Indonesia, for example.

However in terms of users, the site has experienced lower than normal monthly growth over April and May. Whereas over the past 12 months Facebook grew at a rate of around 20 million new active users per month, in April that number was reduced to 13.9 million, and in May it fell to 11.8 million.

The reasons for this decline in growth can be, at least in part, attributed to a decline in actual user numbers throughout North America and parts of Europe.

The most significant decrease in users occurred in the United States, where numbers fell from 155.2 million to 149.4 million, and in Canada, where users fell by 1.52 million to 16.6 million. Losses of monthly active users of over 100,000 also occurred in the UK, Norway and Russia, according to Inside Facebook.

These figures mark the first time that Facebook user numbers in the United States have fallen over the past year.
The numbers are by no means a disaster for the social networking site, which experienced growth rates of over 10 percent throughout June in India, 7.6 percent in Mexico and 7.1 percent in Thailand.

However, users have recently criticized Facebook for the introduction of several features that some users feel infringe on their privacy. The latest of these features was the introduction of facial recognition software, which the company claimed was designed to make "tagging" people in a photo easier.  

Despite concerns over privacy and the growing presence of other social networking services such as Twitter, Inside Facebook notes that the decline in user numbers could be attributed to seasonal anomalies such as college graduations, bugs in the Facebook system or simply market saturation.

Inside Facebook also state that these figures do not yet reflect a trend in users moving away from Facebook, but rather that Facebook's growth could slow should it fail to break into countries such as China.

(Courtesy: Mid-Day)