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Facebook Just Changed Its Definition of 'Active User'

Facebook now only counts people who actually visit Facebook.

Kurt Wagner

Facebook just redefined what makes you a “monthly active user.”

For the past decade-plus, you didn’t actually need to visit Facebook to be counted as a Facebook user. Instead, the company considered people who shared things to Facebook from third-party apps or websites as “active users.” So sharing your Candy Crush high score to Facebook through the Candy Crush app, for example, added you to the heap.

That’s no longer the case, according to the company’s third-quarter earnings filing. Now, Facebook only counts users who actually visit Facebook on Web or mobile, or log in with their Facebook profile to use Messenger. So, people who actually use Facebook, not just share to Facebook.

How does that impact Facebook’s MAU total, you ask? Well, not much, apparently. “MAUs from third-party websites or apps integrated with Facebook were a really small part of previous quarters’ MAU numbers,” a company spokesperson told Re/code in a statement.

That actually looks to be true! The 1.55 billion users the company reported Wednesday fall under the new definition, according to a spokesperson. That means the company added 60 million new users last quarter while simultaneously eliminating the third-party sharers from the count. Twitter, for comparison, added just four million new users last quarter.

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