Documents turned over to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by former Facebook employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen reveal that Facebook usage is on the decline amongst young people, particularly teenagers. Haugen alleges, among other things, that the company was not honest with advertisers and investors about its problem securing young users.

Seventeen news organizations reported on thousands of redacted versions of these internal documents now dubbed The Facebook Papers.

According to Bloomberg, Haugen’s complaint filed with the SEC centers on Facebook’s misrepresentation of “core metrics to investors and advertisers.” The company, Haugen alleges, failed to show details about slowdowns in use among teens and other young people, instead highlighting the overall growth in the company.

While Instagram is still popular with teens, the age range of Facebook users is steadily going up, and young adult users of Facebook in the U.S. have declined 2% since 2019 and are expected to continue falling by an additional 4% over the next two years.

As noted by the outlet, the documents show that despite detailed research by Facebook, employees don’t fully understand why these trends among key demographics are happening or why product changes have failed to reverse them.

Facebook has had this problem for years, at least since 2012, according to the Verge, but the problem is getting worse for the social media company and could stunt its future growth if nothing changes. One of the main concerns is that since Facebook, like many social media platforms, relies a lot on ads for consistent revenue, the drop in usage from young people could suggest less revenue.

The news comes as it has been suggested recently that Facebook is debating a company-wide rebranding and is looking to roll out new features and content across its platforms.

Critics have attacked a report that Facebook plans to rebrand itself Critics have attacked a report that Facebook plans to rebrand itself Photo: AFP / OLIVIER DOULIERY