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Report Reveals Social Media’s Aging Audience

BY Travis Daub and Justin Myers  June 16, 2011 at 10:33 AM EDT

Facebook dominates the social media landscape, but its growth may be slowing.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Myspace may consider themselves to be young companies, but their users are rapidly reaching middle-age.

That user trend was revealed Thursday in a study published by the Pew Research Center based on a survey of 2,255 U.S. adults.

The study concluded that 52 percent of adults active on social media websites are 35 or older — up from 33 percent in 2008. This study comes on the heels of a market-research report that Facebook lost 6 million users last month. That figure has been disputed by Facebook.

The Pew study plots demographic breakdowns of each of the four biggest social networking services by percentage. The data reveal that LinkedIn has the oldest audience, while Myspace is overwhelmingly for youngsters. Twitter and Myspace are slightly more racially diverse than Facebook or LinkedIn.

But the story is different when these percentages are replaced with actual audience figures. Because of Facebook’s enormous audience size, it serves more users than any other site in nearly every demographic category.

To visualize the size of each site’s demographic groups, the PBS NewsHour applied Pew’s percentages to ComScore’s total user figures for Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and Linkedin from May. The resulting interactive charts are below: