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Daily Facebook Usage Declines in US: Report

Features like Stories, influencer content and video are all contributing to more engagement and a slow but steady uptick in time spent on Instagram

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FILE - The Facebook logo is seen on a shop window in Malaga, Spain, June 4, 2018. (VOA)

Average daily time spent on Facebook by American men declined by three minutes in 2018 and is set to fall by another minute next year to reach 37 minutes, said a new report.

Facebook’s move last year to discourage passive consumption of content, especially videos, has impacted engagement, said the report by research firm eMarketer.

This year, US adult Facebook users will spend an average of 38 minutes per day on the platform (on all devices), said the report.

“Facebook’s continued loss of younger adult users, along with its focus on downranking clickbait posts and videos in favour of those that create ‘time well spent,’ resulted in less daily time spent on the platform in 2018 than we had previously expected,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said in a statement.

“Less time spent on Facebook translates into fewer chances for marketers to reach the network’s users,” Williamson said.

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FILE – The Facebook app icon is shown on an iPhone in New York. VOA

Engagement on Snapchat, meanwhile, has essentially plateaued. Instead of growing, time spent among users fell slightly last year because of lingering fallout from the app’s failed redesign and competition from Instagram.

“We now expect time spent among Snapchat’s adult users to remain at 26 minutes per day through 2021. Our previous forecast projected 28 minutes per day in 2019,” eMarketer said.

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The picture is somewhat brighter at Instagram, where user time spent is still growing. Average daily time on the Facebook-owned platform will reach 27 minutes this year among US adult users, according to the forecast that added the time spent would increase by one minute every year through 2021.

“Features like Stories, influencer content and video are all contributing to more engagement and a slow but steady uptick in time spent on Instagram,” Williamson said. (IANS)

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US Sanctions on Cuba Deterring American Firms from Exploring Its Telecommunications Sector

It remains unclear how open it would be to U.S. investment in the strategic telecoms sector

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US, Cuba, American Firms
FILE - Cubans check their phones at an internet hotspot in Havana, Cuba, Aug. 10, 2018. VOA

U.S. sanctions on Cuba are deterring American firms from exploring its telecommunications sector even as Washington seeks to expand internet access on the Communist-run island, according to the final report of a U.S. government task force released on Tuesday.

Chinese companies dominate Cuba’s telecoms sector, a status quo “worth challenging given concerns that the Cuban government potentially obtains its censorship equipment from Chinese Internet infrastructure providers,” the report said.

Cuba’s government protested the U.S. State Department’s creation of a Cuba Internet Task Force last year as “foreign interference.” It remains unclear how open it would be to U.S. investment in the strategic telecoms sector.

“U.S. companies informed the subcommittees they are often deterred from entering the market due to uncertainty caused by frequent changes to U.S. regulations concerning Cuba,” according to the task force, convened last year by the State Department.

US, Cuba, American Firms
U.S. sanctions on Cuba are deterring American firms from exploring its telecommunications sector. Pixabay

U.S. presidents have successively tightened and loosened the decades-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba imposed in the years after its 1959 revolution.

Former President Barack Obama created a loophole for U.S. telecommunications companies to provide certain services to Cuba. His successor, Donald Trump, maintained the loophole but tightened the broader sanctions, worsening the overall business climate.

Banks are increasingly reluctant to process payments originating in Cuba. Some telecoms firms surveyed by the task force said that was putting them off offering key services and products in the country.

The task force advised the U.S. government to clear up the regulatory uncertainty and seek feedback on how to improve telecoms firms’ ability to invest.

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Until 2013, the internet was largely available to the public in Cuba only at tourist hotels amid the U.S. embargo, lack of cash and concerns over the free flow of information.

The government has increased web access in recent years, installing a fiber-optic cable to Venezuela and introducing cyber cafes, Wi-Fi hot spots and mobile internet.

Cuban telecoms monopoly ETECSA signed a deal earlier this year with Alphabet’s Google on increasing connectivity, but the two have not publicly agreed on any significant investments. (VOA)