After accusations flew in all directions about photo sharing app Instagram losing users over copyright issues, Facebook is in the eye of the storm as The Guardian reports that the social networking giant has lost 600,00 users in the UK, a 2.88 percent drop.

Monitoring firm SocialBakers released data which showed this drastic drop in the United Kingdom that constitutes the sixth most active Facebook user base. According to the firm, UK had 33 million unique Facebook users in December, though the firm claims that the figures could have been duplicated for those who access their profiles through multiple devices.

Analysts have started to pin the blame of this drastic drop on several factors. The confusion over the site’s privacy policies could be an important reason why people are opting out of using Facebook, the Instagram fiasco being an important example of how that could happen.

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Losing its sheen?

The most obvious reason is the natural drop that occurs in the usage of social networking websites post the festival of Christmas in December. ‘Facebook Fatigue', the condition where you have too many friends, has also been blamed for this.

But has Facebook actually lost these followers in such large numbers? The social networking giant debunks this report. Announcing that the company is pleased with its growth and with the way people are engaged with Facebook, a spokesperson for the social networking website said that more than half of the site's active users log on to it each day.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook said SocialBakers is primarily a marketing partner that sells its data to brands that use Facebook for marketing themselves. This data, says Facebook, has been gathered using the site’s advertising tool that does not usually give a complete picture.

Founder and CEO of SocialBakers Jan Rezab explained that there are users who do not always get counted using the ad tool, especially users who access Facebook through their mobile phones or at work. The ad tool again divides users by region and counting users who move between states becomes ambiguous. Even when Facebook announced that it had hit the one billion user milestone, the user counts based on the ad tool only registered 940 million.

In a blog post by SocialBakers, Rezab notes that UK is inflecting in terms of numbers at near full penetration on Facebook. “Over 50% of UK's entire population is on Facebook – which is amazing! About 15% of people in UK are under 13 years old therefore “not allowed” on Facebook. 16.5% of people in UK are older than 65 and typically not on Facebook (only 4% of 65+ year olds out of the 33M are on Facebook in UK)” he notes. In this context, even if the figure of 600,000 is true, the drop in users is not too huge a one and Rezab says that he expects more data reshuffle soon.

Meanwhile Facebook is all set to make an important announcement today in a hush-hush press event. Rumours have it that Facebook might unveil a Facebook Phone – as a hardware or a whole different OS based on Android. Even if Facebook is losing users, it might only be a matter of time before it regains ground thanks to the route of innovation it's taking.

(With inputs from ANI)

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