Cambridge Analytica, the U.K. data firm which acquired 50 million user profiles in the U.S., and may or may not have used them to help the Trump campaign, is just the latest in a long line of Facebook-related mishaps surrounding security, privacy, ye olde fake news, and so many other issues. But it remains almost as popular as ever, or at least it has been up until now. The online campaigns encouraging us all the quit Facebook are ramping up. This latest infraction isn’t too dissimilar from Barack Obama’s 2012 data-heavy re-election campaign which gathered data on supporters via social channels. But the news surrounding it definitely is more striking.
So I wondered, what would it take for most of us to actually quit Facebook for good?
You probably fall into one of three (or four) camps:
- You don’t have a Facebook profile
- You have one and you’re ready to call it quits because of this or others issues
- You’re too into your Facebook community to give it up…
- And the fourth (in which I fall), you work in social media and need to keep yours for that reason.
If you have a profile, I want to know: are you planning to keep it in light of the Cambridge Analytica breach or are you riding it out? We know that our cumulative data is being used constantly by tons of sites, and giving our consent to these is far easier and more subtle than we’d ever think. It’s hard to tell what information is being used and how it’s even affecting us, especially in a political function.
There are articles in lifestyle and tech media encouraging us to quit Facebook to make our brains less cluttered with falsified idealized lives making us envious and competitive, but a lot of us contend that we find inspiration in what we see online. If it’s getting in the way of your happiness, then it makes sense to quit it. If not, it’s gets murkier.
Facebook is an interesting beast since it’s one of the networks that has a hardcore Xennial, Gen X, and Boomer base, who often only frequent that and no other social sites. So if your aim is to keep on seeing photos of your nephew, get information about your upcoming reunion, or find events that your older-than-Millennial friends are going to, Facebook is where it’s at. Other than my work requirements, that’s the only reason I stay on Facebook: I want to keep in touch with those older pals and the communities they’ve created exclusively there. Unless I want to… ugh… pick up the phone, that’s the way to reach them.
Millennials and Gen Zers are using Facebook far less than their older counterparts, so it’ll likely have to do some soul-searching to figure out how to keep them in the long run.
Facebook has made a concerted effort to start showing us more from our friends and family and less from brands and companies (much to the chagrin to those of us who run branded blogs like this one). This is an effort to show less ““passive content” that encourages us to mindlessly click (like viral videos) and more content from people you presumably know. Is that working to make you enjoy the platform more than before? Is it enough to get past all of the privacy issues? Or will Facebook’s attempts to remedy the problem make you feel safer staying in the Facebook game?
Ultimately, I doubt Facebook will be substantially affected by this latest breach in the immediate future, but it certainly does cast a light on the cumulative effects of how much Facebook is being used by foreign and political elements and how much that affects our own lives and political systems… And whether younger, savvier users will put up with it.
Are friends enough to keep you on the platform? Is this data breach forcing you to consider all of your social media haunts as well?