May 4, 2013
One In Three Facebook Users Have Deactivated Their Accounts
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
One third of all Facebook users take breaks from the popular social network by deactivating their account, and 10 percent of them eventually quit using the website entirely, according to a team of Cornell University researchers.
As part of the study, which was presented Thursday at the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Paris, the researchers posted an online questionnaire that was completed by a total of 410 individuals.
Of those Facebook users, 46 reported they had deleted their account. More than 90 percent said they were satisfied with that decision, and the majority of them stayed away from the website, the researchers said. Others admitted, while they still occasionally took breaks from using Facebook, they were unable to completely stop using the popular social media website.
Over 25 percent of those who replied (110) said they had deactivated their account, making it so all of their Facebook activity was hidden but storing the data and allowing them to reactivate their profile at any time. One-third said they ultimately came back to Facebook, while the other two-thirds said they were happy with their decision.
Furthermore, according to lead author Eric P. S. Baumer, a postdoctoral associate in communication at the Ithaca, New York-based university, some Facebook members went to extraordinary lengths to curb their use of the website.
“Several participants asked their significant other or spouse to change their password, only allowing them to log in on a limited basis,” he explained. “One participant described redirecting all email from Facebook to an email address that he never checked. Others installed browser plugins that blocked them from visiting the site.”
As for the reasons people wanted to stop using the social network, Baumer explained the reasons were varied. Some were concerned about privacy issues and potential misuse of their data, while others were worried it would interfere with their productivity or they might become addicted to using the website.
Some expressed weariness at engaging in “shallow or banal social interactions,” while others said they reduced or halted their activity in order to keep from becoming online friends with a boss, student or former romantic partner, the Cornell university researcher explained. Still others felt pressure to stop using Facebook based on their institutional status, such as in the case of being a parolee or an officer in the military.
Baumer also said 75 people who answered the survey said they never had an account on the website.
“While some respondents reported simply not having a use for the site, others provided elaborate lists of reasons they would not join,” he said. “Some did not want to be on display or live 'life in a global aquarium.' We also observed a sense of rebelliousness and pride among those who resisted Facebook.”
“While previous work has compared users and non-users of social networking sites, this study is one of the first to give a sense for the prevalence of non-use,” the university explained. “It also provides some evidence that Facebook users who deactivate their account are more likely to know someone else who has also deactivated, and Baumer plans to further explore this potential network effect.”
Facebook use (or lack thereof) has been a hot topic as of late. Back in February, the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported 61 percent of US users of the social network said they had taken a break from the website at one point, and one-fifth said they had previously used Facebook, but had since kicked the habit.
Then in March, redOrbit.com´s own Michael Harper reported Mark Zuckerberg´s social network was losing ground amongst teenage users who were instead turning to more mobile-friendly services such as SnapChat or Instagram — which, somewhat ironically, is owned by Facebook.