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Facebook growth hits slowdown in Irish market

Social networking phenomenon Facebook saw a dramatic slowdown in the rate of new Irish users joining the site over the past month, while the number of users also appears to have declined here over the past six months, figures show.

As founder Mark Zuckerberg this week announced plans to make Facebook an online entertainment hub, the site's own figures revealed that in July and August an average of 1,840 Irish people a day were signing up, but the latest figures show a fall to just 1,165 new users a day signing up over the past four weeks.

These figures from Google Trends -- which tracks website unique visitor numbers -- also indicate an estimated 33 per cent decline in visitors to the site, which is valued at about $78bn (€58bn) and in which Bono's firm Elevation Partners has a 1.5 per cent stake worth over $1bn.

At the end of March there were about 1.2 million daily Irish visits, but that has since plummeted to about 800,000.

"Facebook is almost at saturation point in Ireland. A possible explanation for the fall in daily visitors could be that more people are accessing the site through smartphones," explained Damien Mulley, a social media expert.

"Data from our advertising tool, which provides broad estimates on the reach of Facebook ads, isn't designed to be a source for tracking the overall growth. More than half of our active users log on every day. We're very pleased with the growth and how they engage with the site," a Facebook spokesman said.

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