Is 140 characters about to become a thing of the past?

A survey suggests people are getting bored of social media. U2 frontman and Facebook stakeholder Bono: take note...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 16 Aug 2011
Could the age of the Twittering classes be about to draw to an abrupt close? A survey by IT research company Gartner has found that almost a quarter of social meeja-ites use their favourite site less now than they did when they first signed up. Apparently, those most likely to be tired of Twitter and fed-up with Facebook are young, up-and-coming, brand conscious types – ie. hipsters. And, as we all know, where the nation’s hipsters lead, the rest of us are bound to follow – albeit two or three years down the line. Better start phrasing that final 140 character message now…

The survey, conducted among 6,295 respondents, found that one of the main reasons cited by those who said they were using social media sites less is online privacy, with a third saying they were worried about it (interestingly, that drops to just 22% among teenagers).

There wasn’t just a cultural discrepancy, though: there’s geographical difference in enthusiasm for social media (‘Twittiness’?), too. So while 40% of those in the US and the UK use social networking sites roughly as frequently as they did before, 50% of people in South Korea and Italy reckon they actually use them more. The coolest cats in the social networking sphere, though, are those in Brazil and Russia (ie. two of the world’s most important emerging economies) – 30-40% of whom say they use social networking sites less often than when they first signed up.

All this should be a call to action for professional sunglasses wearer Bono. The U2 frontman’s cheesily-named investment firm, Elevation Partners, owns a stake in Facebook which is now worth $975m, after another of Facebook’s investors, Interpublic, sold off part of its 0.4% share of the company. That values Facebook at $133m (£81m), almost quadrupling the value of Elevation’s share.

Just think: this is Bono’s chance to nip in there and divest himself of his stake, making a lot of money, getting out before the mass exodus, and being labelled as a cool-and-trendy ‘early-exiter’ in the process. Although, on the other hand, any deal where almost $1bn changes hands does risk confirming his status among music aficionados as, well, a bit of a banker, really…

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