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Most Facebook users 'take a break'

Too much drama, boredom and irrelevant information are just some of the reasons Facebook users give for taking a break from the world's biggest social networking site for weeks at a time, according to a new study.

A report from the Pew Research Centre's Internet and American Life Project found that some 61% of Facebook users had taken a hiatus of at least several weeks for myriad reasons, whether they were weary from an onslaught of gossip, or for the more pious, the arrival of Lent.

Yet the use of Facebook, whether constant or not, is pervasive in America. Of the American adults who use the internet, 67% are on Facebook, Pew found. That compares with 20% who use LinkedIn and 16% who are on Twitter.

But users do come and go, some temporarily and some for good. Seven percent of internet users said they used Facebook at one point but no longer do. By its own count, Facebook has 1.06 billion users worldwide who check in at least once a month. This includes millions of duplicate and fake accounts. More than 150 million users are in the US.

The largest slice of users, 20%, said that they were simply too busy with their own lives to follow the constant stream of status updates, quotes and baby photos.

Privacy and security concerns, which have received plenty of media coverage, were low on the list. Only 4% of people gave these reasons, combined with concerns about ads and spam, as their "Facebook vacation" motivation.

Lee Rainie, director of the Internet and American Life Project, said "people are making interesting calibrations and recalibrations" about how they spend their time and about the worth of constantly staying connected to friends, family and others online.

Responding to the report, Facebook said that its growth and user engagement remains strong.

"As we announced last week, Facebook has grown daily active users across all regions, ending the year with more than one billion monthly active users, 618 million daily active users and 680 million people accessing Facebook from mobile devices," a company statement said.

"Our announcement came on the heels of independent analyst reports which concluded that Facebook is the most downloaded mobile app in the US, and that time spent on Facebook accounts for over 20% of all time spent on mobile apps in the US."

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