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LA STAMPA

Why Italians Still “Like” Facebook Even As Enthusiasm Cools Worldwide

Interest in Mark Zuckerberg’s once red-hot Facebook is starting to cool off. In the United States, Canada and the UK, millions actually closed their accounts last year. For some reason, though, Italians are still wild about the website.

Italian comedian and director Roberto Begnini has 1.6 million Facebook fans
Italian comedian and director Roberto Begnini has 1.6 million Facebook fans
Gianluca Nicoletti

Last week, Bill Gates let it slip in an interview with the Daily Mail that the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, may be engaged to long-term girlfriend Priscilla Chan. The comment was enough to excite a new round of gossip about the world's youngest billionaire. But while chit chat about Zuckerberg's life, his girlfriend and even his dog, Beast, are at an all time high, the young entrepreneur's popular creation, Facebook, seems to be slowing down.

Over the past year, Facebook has lost about 6 million users in the United States. The social network's U.S. users still number approximately 150 million, but 1.6 million people in Canada and 100,000 people in the UK, in Norway and in Russia closed their accounts. Still, the site increased in overall number of global users 1.7%, thanks to growth in developing countries – and to Italy.

According to Corrado Calabrò, president of the Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM), Italy – along with Brazil – has the world's highest number of new Facebook users. In the past two years, the number of Italian Facebook users increased from 11 million to 20 million. The time an average Italian user spends on Facebook is also the highest in the world.

In more digitally evolved countries, social network fever appears to be cooling off. Some long-time Facebook users complain that the site is becoming less engaging. But it Italy, users still seem to be getting a charge out of the social network, which can offer gratifying virtual relations or an escape from boring office work.

An information technology research firm called Gartner Inc. uses the concept of a "hype cycle" to explain the recent levelling off of Facebook's once meteoric surge in popularity. The cycle is a graphic representation of the maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies.

The first phase is the "Technology Trigger," or breakthrough. Next is the "Peak of Inflated Expectations' phase, which is followed by a period of growing criticism. Technologies enter a third phase, the "trough of disillusionment," because they fail to meet inflated expectations.

In the most digitally evolved countries, Facebook is going through this third phase, according to Gartner. The users who discovered it early on no longer have the motivation and emotional drive to use the social network.

If Facebook is to continue following the hype cycle, it will move next into its mature phase – the "plateau of productivity" – where interest in a technology stabilizes as people who rely on it for specific services remain loyal.

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Geopolitics

The Paradox Of Putin's War: Europe Is Going To Get Bigger, And Move Eastward

The European Union accelerated Ukraine's bid to join the Union. But there are growing signs, it won't stop there.

European Parliament in Strasbourg

Valon Murtezaj

-Analysis-

PARIS — Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has upended the European order as we know it, and that was even before the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline was cut off earlier this month. While the bloc gets down to grappling with the unfolding energy crisis, the question of consolidating its flanks by speeding up the enlargement process has also come back into focus.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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In a critical meeting on June 23-24, the European Сouncil granted candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova and recognized the “European perspective” of Georgia – a nod acknowledging the country’s future belonged within the European Union.

Less than a month later, Brussels brought to an end the respectively 8- and 17-year-long waits for Albania and North Macedonia by allowing them into the foray of accession negotiations.

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