lifestyle

Facebook users in Japan losing interest

56 Comments

With over a billion registered users worldwide, Facebook is the king of online social networking services. In Japan, however, there are signs that its dominance is starting to crumble.

Facebook launched a Japanese version of its website in 2008. Initially, the platform experienced sluggish user growth as it struggled to compete with already established Japanese SNS sites produced by the likes of mixi, Mobage, and GREE. However, after well-known companies in Japan began to use Facebook as a marketing tool, it caught on with the general public and by the end of 2012 had 17.12 million users.

A mere five months later, however, that number has dropped to 13.78 million, a 19.5% drop in less than half a year.

Users in Japan, a place famous for its somewhat fickle consumers, have started to post negative comments online indicating they feel the site is becoming obsolete, “Recently, timelines are just full of the same people boasting about their lives, I’ve got no interest in looking at that anymore," said one user.

Additionally, LINE, an instant messaging app for smartphones and PCs, is experiencing huge growth in Japan, surpassing 41.51 million users there, and 150 million worldwide since its launch June 23, 2011. “LINE is so easy to use, I’m tired of Facebook, it’s too much of a pain,” said one user.

Talking about Facebook’s future in Japan, one writer knowledgeable about what is happening on the Internet, said, “Facebook will rapidly depopulate this year in Japan. It is said that people grow tired of SNS sites in about three years; that means the large number of users who registered out of curiosity in 2011 will start to decline going forward. People have started to say things like, ‘Having to use your real name doesn’t go over well with the Japanese,’ and, ‘It’s just a place to kind of boast about your real life, which goes against the Japanese character.’ I think the site will see an exodus of users, and only those wanting to interact with foreigners or who have a connection or affinity with something or someone overseas will remain. Presently, Facebook appears to be beneficial in finding employment; however, companies will probably begin to reassess its value from now on.”

Data for Japan at the end of 2013 should tell us whether this is just a temporary decline, or a mass exodus from the clutches of the all-encompassing Facebook network.

Source: Jin115

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Mark Zuckerberg Makes Surprise Visit to Japan -- Video Sharing Site Niconico Wants YOU to Translate Their Videos -- Japanese Dating Site Busted for Using Fake Profiles

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56 Comments
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To begin with.. Facebook has been never popular in JP. Most of the people i know using FB are merely using it to keep in touch with friends abroad since mixi and others don't allow foreigners into their services (mixis changed their agreements so that only contract mob phone holder could sign in.. ) I still wonder why most people in Japan believe they would have to use their real name.. just set up one... no need for honesty on a social network if you don't want to..

5 ( +13 / -8 )

FB took off here after the earthquake / tsunami when people felt vulnerable & wanted to connect. I believe Mixi lost a lot of users at the same time. Even though it is great to keep in touch with my family & friends all over the world I've grown bored with it and usually check or post only a couple times a week at most since about 4 months ago.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Saturation of ideas and culture occurs on social networks. It's inevitable.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

To begin with.. Facebook has been never popular in JP.

Really? I have about 200 "friends" who use it for everything from keeping in touch with relatives to maintaining a business presence with their readers, certainly more "serious" users than I ever saw on Mixi, where everything is kept annoyingly anonymous.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

13.7 million is still a hell of a lot of users. I don't think FB is going to fade away here anytime soon.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

As long as a Japanese has a cell phone to squint at while he's cycling or crossing an intersection or boarding a train, he's happy. Their whole world has moved onto whatever can be condensed into one of those tiny screens.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Most Japanese people only use Facebook to share photos of pasta, cakes, or dogs in silly clothes!

16 ( +21 / -5 )

mixi and others don't allow foreigners into their services

Well, actually glad that we have FB then to avoid to face those Racial discrimination at mixi and alike.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Whatever happens with FB, I'll always be happy that they basically made MIXI obsolete. MIXI was a racist discriminatory company that would have been illegal in most other countries.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

mixi and others don't allow foreigners into their services

Again, really?? I'm a "foreigner" and had no trouble signing up for mixi.... way back in 2006. (Not offering an English or other language version of a service is not racist or discriminatory... a dumb business decision, perhaps.)

9 ( +10 / -1 )

I was on mixi too at about the same time. I had to be "introduced" twice, as I forgot my id once. I never really liked it, but I had no problems setting up an account. I don't even think they knew if I was a furrener or not... I doN't remember any language limits but if Stephen K says so.

Anyway, I couldn't say I felt discriminated against at all during my brief stay there. I was just totally uninterested in the whole social media thing so never used it much. I couldn't care less about all these friends of friends and groups of ppl with similar interests.

If I have real friends I would rather see them. If I have similar interests I would rather actually participate in the activity. If I have free time without the previous two things available to me, I would rather take a walk or read a book than look at a computer screen.

Hence I am not on FB neither.

(Hey! Wait! What am I doing on a Sunny Sun Morn on JT???!!!)

7 ( +8 / -1 )

mixi and others don't allow foreigners into their services

Obviously not true. No trouble signing up, no trouble posting in English.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Side effect of PRISM

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Mixi is great.

Done a lot of international "exchange" with local girls thanks to it.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Japan is unusual internationally in that people still feel the need to hide their identity behind a picture of a kitten, a manga character or a flower or something. If you need evidence, open a Mixi account. I have a few hundred Mixi "friends" -- and I have no idea of what 90% of them look like or even the most basic things about their life. When people post, there is no debate. It's all just people making supportive posts of whatever other people write. Or, if you ask a question in a community, you get 100 identical answers.

This model could never work outside of Japan. So why are people surprised when the exact opposite model -- one of ID openness, debate, sarcastic jabs at friends and so on -- doesn't work in Japan?

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Part of the problem, inherent with any social network, is the ability of the user to communicate in another language other than their own.

I know plenty of Japanese folks that use FB and would like to "communicate" or make "friends" with foreigners, (to them), on FB but are not confident of their English abilities and they feel limited to only communicating with other Japanese user's.

Many Japanese people that I know like reading other people's blogs rather than posting things about themselves, in that regard many are shy and introverted.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Another reason for the drop is that school teachers have been warming their students to get off of FB. I teach a junior high school boy who made a FB account only to have his home room teacher tell him he had to delete the account. The poor kid was really stressed and when he came for his lesson asked me to check and see if he had deleted it properly.. He said the teacher was regularly checking FB to see if the students were off.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Why keep them off fB? Anti bullying strategy?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Another reason for the drop is that school teachers have been warming their students to get off of FB. I teach a junior high school boy who made a FB account only to have his home room teacher tell him he had to delete the account.

I am curious by what right did the teacher have to tell her student to delete his account? That is a serious invasion of privacy there and I do believe the teacher going beyond their duty as a teacher.

If I were you MarkX I would tell the kid to keep his account, and screw what the teacher says, make an account without using his "real" name and have fun!

That school is very lucky that none of my children attend there because if it were my child that was being told to delete the account I would be telling the school and school board to delete that teacher! Intrusions like these in students lives by teachers, bugs me to no end.

My son's teachers tell them that they monitor their FB pages, and I don't have a problem with that as I monitor my underage son's page too, but then he knows it and understands the reasoning behind it. Yet we don't tell him not to participate either, it's his choice.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A survey done in 2010 revealed that Japanese FB users had the fewest friends (average 29), and I doubt that has changed in the last 3 years. For many of these disgruntled Japanese FB users, I'm led to believe FB has become just another source of their misery. So no surprise here that it's losing a percentage of users.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11501625

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A survey done in 2010 revealed that Japanese FB users had the fewest friends (average 29), and I doubt that has changed in the last 3 years. For many of these disgruntled Japanese FB users, I'm led to believe FB has become just another source of their misery.

Well, that really doesn't surprise me! After all the years I have been living here I have noticed that there are many Japanese that are not comfortable opening up with strangers, and in a manner of speaking FB is just that, a network or strangers sharing personal information. The reason that they have so "few" friends is just an extension of that.

Sure there are exceptions to every rule, however in general, while they are very friendly people on the outside, they are extremely private as well and FB challenges that privacy and it is hard for people to separate the two.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

correct me if I am wrong, FB is English based, most Japanese are not well verse in that language, hence the site could get boring after looking at all the cutsie dog/cat/pastries pics done locally.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I don't care for facebook either, really

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@oberst - I'm afraid you are wrong. Go to General Account Settings, you can choose any language you like, including upside down English, pirate English, Latin, Esperanto, eet-speak (a curiosity I've never heard of) and, of course, Japanese.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japanese are known for getting bored easily, foreign talento you see everyday on TV even on ice cream then get dumped you never hear about them anymore, who remember Bob Sapp? Beckham, local talento too, boy/girlfriend, websites.... Mixi shined for years, now it is dying, same fate awaits FB.

Actually we hear a lot about Line and Twitter...for now.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Really, who wants to post all there personal information, photos and contacts on Facebook .... the whole "social media" Phenomenon is a media beat up.

I think more and more people are starting to realise that willingly handing over all your personal information to companies like Facebook is perhaps hot the smartest thing in the world.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

in a manner of speaking FB is just that, a network or strangers sharing personal information

All of my FB friends are people I know personally and want to stay in touch with. Why would I want to be 'friends' with someone I don't know?

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Line will mop up the market - it does what the Japanese want - quick and instant communication, without needing to be a catalog of your past. It is taking market share fast from Facebook, and I think it will probably win here. However, Facebook has a huge resource behind it, so can't rule it out completely - it could morph into a Line competitor if it thought the market was worth it. Watch that space!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Well, I'm generalizing, but the Japanese are pretty fickle about trends to begin with. The CEO of Mixi was incredibly smart to sell out when he did because Mixi is pretty much dead these days; you need someone to recommend you, must have both a landline and cell phone number, and after all the mistrust no one uses their name or photos.

If there is any reason Facebook is losing appeal here it is simply because the people are itching for a new trend they can buck next week. It's probably Line.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Facebook is vacuous rubbish.

Maybe the Japanese are a little more sensitive to that.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

I'm pretty sure it is an anti-bullying idea, but I agree that it is an invasion so privacy. But this is not the only school doing it. Where I live, I've heard it is a directive going out throughout the city. Unfortunately most kids still listen to their teachers and they have deleted their accounts.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Obviously not true. No trouble signing up, no trouble posting in English.

well it's not like it's says noone allowed but through their changes ( someone said he signed up in 2006 so thats before the change). Last year a friend of mine tried to sign in when we actually noticed that they seem to have changed their agreements which doesnt allow usual prepaid costumers into their service... it#s a bit tricky on that end.

It's probably just my oppinion but i just don't think that comparing with other countries you could say FB is popular in any way.. just 10% of Japanese i know who are signed with FB use it on regular basis.. others are signed in just for the sake of it or check it once in a month or even less.. wouldn't claim that as use in the sense most do..

But as some said it's also because of privacy reasons... most japanese are very sensitive on that end since it can have an effect on your workplace. I heard of many company scouts who search on FB for their new applicants or also regular staffs... My boss also sent me a request which is hard to ignore since it can really affect you work...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Facebook or no facebook, many people are becoming digitized and losing their natural social and interaction skills. And it is also sad most people are empty. The only share disgusting things. Companies use all the available means to target people, spreading their gospel of consumerism. Unless people switched off their digital mode, and stay away from social media, nothing is gonna change. Human stupidity is spreading much faster than intelligence.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@mark

could be anti-enjo kosai too

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

yeah mixi is racist, rather be on fb where anyone is welcomed. sucks japanese are sensitive no wonder they get bullied easily, they need to learn how to speak their minds and punch some lights out. and employers needs to mind their own business too. read that Illinois employers want your fb password. the hell?!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yes but where use can you get the NSA and the CIA to actually listen in on you. As an American I feel that it is my duty to fill up all those spy computers, so occasionally I add an interesting word. Jihad. But the I suspect they also read all my letters here and to other countries as well. I just hope my messages don't bore them. [Grin]

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Facebook wants to know who you are, Twitter wants to know what you think, YouTube wants to see what you're doing and Yelp wants to know what pis*** you off.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

i met my ex-husband on MIXI.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

When I studied abroad in Nagasaki, tons of Japanese students at the college added me as a friend probably because I was a foreigner. Curiosity I suppose??

Most of them have never tagged themselves in photos, or their profile picture is a picture of their pet, or some cartoon.

If your idea of FACEbook is to be anonymous, I would estimate that these are the kind of people dropping their accounts now.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In my opinion FB is designed to find information, whether that is a business, an old classmate/colleague/sweetheart or as a way to promote your business or even yourself for that matter. You've probably heard about all of the divorces due to FB enabling dissatisfied spouses reconnecting with past loves.

Though I have never been on Mixi, it seems a place connect anonymously with others unless someone has given you their ID. How many Japanese do you know that are forthright about their personal and family life? So the central idea behind FB (telling everyone everything about yourself) is antithetical to the core value of most Japanese (complete privacy).

So it seems a social networking site that allows Japanese to hide in anonymity would certainly be more popular than something like FB.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What an odd article! In the past year my friends from Japan have tripled. I share pictures, and am an ocean advocate. Most of the people I know on Facebook today are not focused on connecting with friends and family but making new exciting connections worldwide which includes Japan. Social media is no longer about self but rather about finding your niche. But if you don't find a niche outside of the humdrum finding old friends world than you won't hang around no matter what country you are from.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

FB is great for me as a free marketing tool for my business. It's a marketer's wet dream.

Beyond that, I really don't care what my friends are eating for lunch. I wish they had a 「どうでもいいね」 button I could click for 90% of the posts I read.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

A survey done in 2010 revealed that Japanese FB users had the fewest friends (average 29), and I doubt that has changed in the last 3 years.

In 2010 FB was just gaining popularity in Japan so that doesn't really say much, although I doubt Japanese really care about running up their friend counts.

Personally I joined Facebook and Mixi (yes, foreigners can register too) but hardly use either one now. Mixi was good to meet people when I was single as you can chat anonymously and then provide more details later on. I have no use for it now that I am married though.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Next Social Media site is <www.bookerzmedia.com>. The more interactive network. I always knew Facebook was boring

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

umm... all the Japanese I meet lately ask me if I'm on FB and to please "friend" them so it doesn't feel that deserted to me just yet.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yatong, maybe the next big one will be SNAPCHAT, before that goes out of style, and then another and another...ad nauseum.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Ameba and Line these days....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Funny. There seem to be alot of uyoku trolls on Facebook. Sad that the good people are losing interest and only the bad ones are growing like a cancer.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Facebook is crap !!!!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Facebook users everywhere are losing interest. We didn't sign up for a rolling billboard.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most of the people I know use Facebook. Perhaps it will die out, but it hasn't yet.

As for Mixi, being racist, that's just incorrect. There are no question about ethnicity. You DO have to live in Japan and are required to give your cellphone information. Also, the site only uses Japanese, but that hardly qualifies for being racist. If so, there are MANY English sites that would be considered racist.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I love it when people are on their iphones, doing their facebooks, or whatever, while walking through crowded stations at rush hour; heads down, earphones in, oblivious to all.. Ten pin bowling! Here we go! Bash bash bash! Strike! Morons.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What an odd article! In the past year my friends from Japan have tripled. I share pictures, and am an ocean advocate. Most of the people I know on Facebook today are not focused on connecting with friends and family but making new exciting connections worldwide which includes Japan. Social media is no longer about self but rather about finding your niche. But if you don't find a niche outside of the humdrum finding old friends world than you won't hang around no matter what country you are from.

This is exactly right. FB is simply a means of communication, just like the telephone and email, or for those fickle Japanese techies, the fax machine. For those who haven't figured out how to use FB to its full potential by joining groups, and receiving news feeds from any variety of sources (including JT), then it's bound to be boring as hell, just keeping up with 29 friends, who are probably just as inactive as those dropping their accounts. That 19% drop seems reasonable to me, and that figure seems to coincide with a growing number of young folks in Japan who are completely disinterested in the outside world. Add to that the paranoia of protecting their privacy (which may or may not include actual skeletons in their closets), and the picture becomes clearer.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I guess they must be sick off all the pointless fights and drama that facebook seems to cause.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I personally started losing interest in facebook when friends started posting scintillating comments and photos about the "amazing" breakfast they had just prepared and consumed at home. On more than one occasion it was vegemite on toast.

Yes, Mark Zilberberg (or whatever your name is) the FB honeymoon has well and truly worn off for many.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Facebook users in Japan losing interest

Count me amongst them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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