Facebook Dislike

A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that 42% of surveyed Facebook users have taken an extended break from Facebook within the last year.  When we say extended, we mean “several weeks or more”. Their reason has a lot to do with Facebook’s issues related to data mismanagement.  I would argue that there are likely other reasons why people are taking a break from Facebook.  Personally, I can find that social media can be overwhelming from a mental health perspective.  In fact, I’ve taken an Instagram reprieve as of last night.  Yes – it’s only been about 8 hours, but so far so good.  How I will hold up later remains to be seen.

My point, however, is that social media isn’t great for some people.  It can trigger a lot of issues related to mental health, so being able to take a break from it every now and then is a good idea.  It doesn’t have to be long – a few days, or even a week.  So long as it gives you the ability to shut out whatever it is that is causing you distress.

But in this case, the reason for the break isn’t related to mental health, it’s based on the fact that Facebook isn’t really upfront with users about what they do with their data.  The Pew survey included users in the United States who were over the age of 18. The survey was conducted from May 29th through June 11th, which as you may recall, was just over a month after Zuckerberg testified in Congress as Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica relationship was exposed. Of those respondents to the survey, 4 in 10 said they’ve taken a break from Facebook for “several weeks or more,” while a quarter said they have completely deleted the Facebook application from their phone.

There is also a generational trend with this.  44% of users between the ages of 18 and 29 said that they had deleted the Facebook application.  Whereas only 20% of users between the ages of 50 and 64 said they deleted it.  This is in stark contrast with users over the age of 65, where they saw only 12% deleting the app.  I would also argue that there is a generational trend related to the frequency of use or the reason they’re using the app in the first place. So those kinds of things may have figured into their reason for deleting or not deleting the app.

Over half of the survey respondents said that they had “adjusted their privacy settings” on Facebook.  What is extremely interesting is that despite concerns that Facebook and other social media companies sensor conservatives, Pew found that Republicans are no more likely to leave or take a break from Facebook as Democrats are:

“The poll found that nearly identical shares of Democrats and Republicans (including political independents who lean toward either party) use Facebook. Republicans are no more likely than Democrats to have taken a break from Facebook or deleted the app from their phone in the past year.”

This is further evidence that Facebook needs to get their act together when it comes to user data.  If you’ve taken any kind of action to remove yourself from Facebook, we want to know.  And we really want to know the reason.  Was it for a mental health break or because of their misuse of your data?

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