Twitter passes Facebook as teens' preferred site, survey says

For the first time, Twitter has surpassed Facebook as the favorite social media service for U.S. teenagers, at least according to one recent survey of more than 8,600 teens that comes as Twitter is preparing for its stock market debut.

With more than a billion active members, Facebook probably still has more teenage users around the world than Twitter, which reports over 200 million active users.  But the report on teen trends and shopping habits, released this month by the Piper Jaffray investment firm, underscores the competitive threat that Facebook faces from new social apps and messaging services.

The survey found 26 percent of teens named Twitter as their favorite social media site, compared with 23 percent who named Facebook and another 23 percent who named Instagram – which, of course, is owned by Facebook. The same survey last spring found 33 percent named Facebook first and 30 percent preferred Twitter.

While the numbers have been trending in that direction for a while, Piper Jaffray’s analysts wrote that they “expect Facebook to continue to be a part of teens’ lives, with more influence from other networks.”  That squares with what we’ve heard anecdotally from teens:  Even if  they like to use other services with friends, they still maintain a Facebook account to make sure they don’t miss anything on the social scene.

Interestingly, the survey was completed shortly before Facebook announced a controversial change in its rules regarding teen sharing, in a move that many viewed as an attempt to keep up with Twitter and other sites.  Facebook previously allowed users under 18 to share posts and likes only with friends and friends of friends, but now the social network will allow them to share posts with the general public – just like on Twitter.

(Photo of Twitter icon by Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

Brandon Bailey Brandon Bailey (350 Posts)

Brandon Bailey covers Google, Facebook and Yahoo for the San Jose Mercury News, reporting on the business and culture of the Internet.