A study published on September 5th stated that roughly one in four US adults has removed Facebook from their mobile phone and a greater number have hit pause on Facebook completely.
The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center, revealed that Americans are changing their interaction with Facebook as more young people continue to delete the app from their phones. 54% of respondents adjusted their privacy setting this year, half of the respondents took a break for several weeks and 74% had either changed their privacy settings, deleted their account or taken a break.
The findings were released on the same day that Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg was appearing before the US Senate to discuss concerns on foreign interference during elections.
The data from the Pew Research became clearer when broken into age groups. 12% of users aged 65 and above, compared to 44% aged 18-29, had deleted the Facebook App. The percentage of younger adults changing their privacy settings is also bigger.
The Cambridge Analytica Scandal
The timeframe for the Pew Research was between May to June 2018. Around the same period when information leaked that Cambridge Analytica had mined data from millions of Facebook accounts to use without their knowledge. Of course, many users were angry and deleted their accounts in the wake of the news.
For many Facebook users who value privacy, the scandal was the last straw. A survey released in April found that one in 20 Brits had deleted their Facebook accounts after the scandal. 5% of British users surveyed in the research left Facebook, 6% had the intention to leave and 93% were aware of the scandal.
Cambridge Analytica is funded by billionaire Robert Mercer. They exploited data from over 50m Facebook profiles. Facebook was aware of the data harvesting for two years but didn’t warn affected users.
Even worse, they showed no remorse or contrition when the Observer broke the news. Top executives argued on Twitter that they had done nothing wrong. Vice President Andrew Bosworth stated that users shared data with third-party apps all the time. There was no password leaks, infiltration or information hacks.
A study was conducted by Syzygy and Attest that found that 54% of the 1,000 respondents had changed their privacy settings. 20% are undecided and 54% decided to stay.
Interestingly, consumers were not worried about how brands used their data but were concerned about data breaches where personal data was leaked. Another survey by the same companies found that British people don’t trust companies to protect them online or keep their data safe.
Why are teenagers and young people fleeing Facebook?
There was a time when Facebook was fun and trendy for teenagers and young adults alike. However, more people from these age groups are deleting their Facebook account or plain neglecting it. If you find yourself in the former group, you’re not alone. 44% of young Americans aged 18-29 have deleted the app.
Earlier this year, eMarketer had predicted that 2 million people under 25 would quit the app. They noted that Facebook had a teen problem, with fewer young social media users. It expects the number of Facebook users aged 18-24 to fall by 81.5% in 2021. The number of very young people aged 11 and below is expected to decline 9.3% this year.
Young people are looking for more than just utility. They long for exclusivity and novelty, two things that Facebook doesn’t offer. Most are expected to glide towards Snapchat for their social media needs.
It is seen as a logical consequence as Facebook continues to “age” and newer, shinier and more flamboyant social media networks emerge. Most teens prioritise Snapchat and Instagram over Facebook and this trend is expected to continue.
In anticipation of increased users, Snapchat introduced several interactive features for its teen audience that drove up the user numbers in that demographic. 43% of social media users use Snapchat, more than twice its penetration numbers from 2015.