More and more Americans are making the move away from Facebook, with some simply taking a break from checking their notifications, while others are going a step further and deleting the app altogether.
Pew Research Center surveyed over 3,400 U.S. adults from May 29 to June 11 and reported that 42 percent claim to have consciously ignored the social networking site this past year, with another 26 percent admitting to removing the app from their phones.
44 percent of those surveyed in the 18-29 age group said they deleted the app, nearly four times the amount of users age 65 and older (12 percent) who did the same.
So, the question here is, why are so many people abandoning Facebook? After all, a previous Pew study found Facebook to be the second most popular social media landscape for U.S. adults to use on their mobile devices, with YouTube coming in just slightly ahead.
Well, perhaps the answer has to do with one simple word — privacy.
Earlier this year, Facebook came under serious fire for a massive privacy scandal after it was revealed the former consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had collected data from tens of millions of Facebook users, all without their knowledge.
The same Pew study also asked people if they adjusted their Facebook privacy settings in the last 12 months, and 54 percent claimed they had. Clearly, data security is a major concern for many Facebook users, especially since this study was conducted right after the events of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
This isn’t the only case of the popular platform misusing data. There have been other instances, particularly involving influencing political campaigns (namely, the 2016 presidential election). However, Pew clarified the study’s findings are not in any way political and noted that “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.”
Following the massive Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, Facebook updated its privacy settings and gave users the ability to download the website’s collected data about them. Pew’s reported that only 9 percent of users took advantage of this new feature. While that number certainly seems low, it’s worth noting that 47 percent of those who did download their data deleted the Facebook app from their phones, and 79 percent adjusted their privacy settings for higher levels of security.
With so many concerns regarding privacy, it’s no surprise users are deleting their Facebook apps, but considering how large the platform is, it’s hard to tell how many will truly ditch it for good. For many, it’s the only way to keep in touch with loved ones.