Quitting Facebook—what’s behind the new trend to leave social networks?
If you are ready to commit “virtual identity suicide,” delete your Facebook account, and say good-bye to social networking sites, you are not alone. A social networking counter movement is emerging, and Facebook quitters, who remove their accounts, differ from Facebook users in several key ways, as described in an article in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
Stefan Stieger, PhD and coauthors, University of Vienna, Austria, compared more than 300 Facebook quitters to about an equal number of Facebook users. They recorded their responses to assessment measures focused on their level of concern over privacy, their tendency toward Internet addiction, and personality traits such as extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.
The authors report several significant differences that distinguish those who have decided to delete their Facebook accounts. The results are presented in the article, “Who Commits Virtual Identity Suicide? Differences in Privacy Concerns, Internet Addiction, and Personality Between Facebook Users and Quitters.” This article is part of a special issue of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking entitled “Social Media as a Research Environment,” led by Guest Editors Michael Walton Macy, PhD and Scott Golder, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
“Given high profile stories such as WikiLeaks and the recent NSA surveillance reports, individual citizens are becoming increasingly more wary of cyber-related privacy concerns,” says Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, from the Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, CA. “With photo tags, profiling, and internet dependency issues, research such as Professor Stieger’s is very timely.”
The New York Times has a great long piece today on the growing number of young people who are leaving or never joining Facebook to begin with. Several reasons noted for staying away from the behemoth social network include the oft-discussed privacy concerns that Facebook presents, in addition to people reporting that the site can actually make you feel less, rather than more, connected to actual human beings. As Facebook continues to grow with over 800 million users, and as it approaches its IPO, it should be reassuring to note that not everyone is simply along for the ride.