What would make you quit Facebook? Here's what you said ...

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy, Social networks

Quit FacebookLast week we asked our readers to take a poll about Facebook's controversial social experiment on thousands of unknowing users.

Lots of you responded - more than 1,000 - and we received a lot of great comments on our post and on our Facebook page.

The results of our poll are by no means definitive, and it's important to approach these results with appropriate skepticism - unlike a real scientific study, our poll sample is not randomized or controlled.

Still, there's some interesting things we can glean from the results.

Mainly, it seems like our readers feel like Facebook has gone too far, but maybe not far enough to get them to stop using it.

Here's what you said in answer to the question "Has Facebook's privacy stance given you enough reason to quit?" (Figures rounded to the nearest whole percent.)

  • 32% Maybe. I've tried to quit before. I can't quit you Facebook!
  • 26% No. It's a service I signed up for knowingly. And it's Facebook's right to use my personal information how they see fit.
  • 26% Are you kidding? I don't use Facebook.
  • 17% Yes. I've had enough! I'm deleting my account and don't plan to reactivate it.

The top response - "maybe" - indicates that some Facebook users feel somewhat trapped, without a better option for the service Facebook provides (connecting with friends, keeping up with news, sharing interesting things), but dissatisfied with the way Facebook handles privacy.

Only 17% said they are ready to up and quit Facebook.

We heard from many of you who thought our poll was a little bit biased - even though the "yes," "no," and "maybe" options were all represented, the way we described possible answers didn't exactly fit your way thinking.

As reader "Cathy" commented (and 55 more agreed with):

facebook-comment-500

I think you are missing an option for your poll - No. But if it gets worse I will quit.

Admittedly, our poll should have included at least one more answer - "other."

This is the dilemma for Facebook users too - not enough choices - because once you "opt in" to using Facebook, you have agreed to giving up control of your own privacy and the only way to really take it back is to quit.

Here are some of the other comments you made about what it would take to make you quit:

  • "It'd take everyone I know jumping ship to something else ..."
  • "As soon as my son graduates ..."
  • "If I had my family close to me ..."
  • "One more baby picture will pretty much do it ..."

Despite the occasional media reports about people who are "unplugging" or "going off the grid," most of us want to stay connected to our circles online - and the other options look even worse.

How about WhatsApp, the messenger service Facebook bought for $19 billion? Or Snapchat, or Viber? All of them have stumbled badly when it comes to securing user data.

If you don't trust Facebook but you just can't quit, then your best choice is to take as much control of your privacy as you possibly can.

Keep your timeline visible to friends only. Use caution with location and photo tagging.

And don't give out more information about yourself - your religion, your sexual orientation, your "likes" - than you're comfortable with Facebook and its advertisers knowing.

In this day and age, your privacy is yours to lose - so take care, and follow our Facebook privacy tips to stay as safe as possible.


Image of quit key courtesy of Shutterstock.

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22 Responses to What would make you quit Facebook? Here's what you said ...

  1. David · 105 days ago

    I have to help manage my employer's Facebook page so I can't just quit. I just refrain from posting things I wouldn't want to see on a billboard on the side of the road. Nothing is really private on Facebook, or any any other free online service.

    • You could consider setting up a work account like "David Employername", or encouraging your employer to fork out for a "social media dashboard" (I won't mention names here).

  2. LindaB · 105 days ago

    I wonder how many didn't respond to the 'poll' as they are not users of Facebook at all?
    I also wonder how manu who are users actually understood that they were giving away the right to control their pour privacy and security by signing up to Facebook? Does everyone read the Ts&Cs? So many don't even RTFM for their hardware or software let alone the 'services' such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.
    As for me, I'm not a user of any so called 'social media' because of the serious risks they pose. I did read the terms and rejected them for me and my sister has decided likewise. Her daughter doesn't lioke the terms either.

  3. Bob · 105 days ago

    Some people will never, ever give up Facebook no matter what - it's part of their DNA and they couldn't last a day without having their ego constantly stroked by a multitude of 'friends'.
    Don't lets pretend it's a (connecting with friends, keeping up with news, sharing interesting things) site, it's just a look at me, see what I'm doing, look what I have platform for narcissists to inflict their symptoms on each other 7/24. Bragbook I think it's been called.
    These types won't give a rats ar*e as what personal info is creamed off them by Mark and his pals as long as their ego is out there surfing the net collecting adulation and friends along the way.
    You think I'm an aging cynic? Dead right!

    • chcurtis · 105 days ago

      I would say that fewer than a tenth of my contacts on FB use it as you describe. Yes, some do. Just as some science fiction convention-goers are misogynistic jerks. And some people who post in forums are trolls.

      • Bob · 104 days ago

        Don't know why you felt you had to play the 'troll' card - a cheap and easy, no danger way to attempt some sort of higher moral ground and put someone down because they have a different opinion to yourself. This conversation is about Facebook, not trolls. I presume when you refer to trolls you are excluding yourself (of course).

        • Alex · 104 days ago

          Thou doth protest too much. I think you probably are one of the narcissists that you critique and maybe that's why you perceive facebook the way you do. Besides of which, how can you not expect to be a suspected troll when everything in your post is aggressive as if to incline a defensive response? I'm not saying "couldn't you have put it nicer" but rather that your argument is more baseless statements and sensationalism than any sort of persuasive argument.

    • Cam · 105 days ago

      Yes, that is exactly true! For the most part as you say, social media platforms are over run by self serving individuals who are completely narcissistic by nature, and in the end, they don't give a shit about anything but themselves!

      • Ivor Massey-Vaas · 101 days ago

        Actually, a very large number of people use FB to join various clubs and connect with like-minded people on a large variety of subjects. I use FB, but I don't post pictures of my dinner every day and have to have my ego massaged.

  4. A problem that I have brought up with legislators here in Arizona. Namely that many large 'giveaways' or prize type drawings require you to enter the information via Facebook. Although they claim that you are not giving your data to Facebook, only them, you still have to register and submit to Facebook TOS and Privacy rules. I also have a limited family that is the only way to contact them.

    Plus if you quit (have you ever?) You information is apparently written in stone. If you log in after deleting your account, even years later, it knows who you are and welcomes you back to Facebook. I found this out by accident.

    These places need to legislated to delete or us to make it clear that when we want out, they have no right to the data (at least name, DOB) that is personally connected with you.

    Not to mention, YOU for confirmation...

    I'm hoping that this will come to be.

    Jack

    • "Namely that many large 'giveaways' or prize type drawings require you to enter the information via Facebook."... duh... the "Prize" is just bait to get your info, it's akin to phishing.

  5. clyde cameron · 105 days ago

    loss of privacy? You mean people are HONEST in answering those FB questions? lol lol smh

  6. Nick · 105 days ago

    Perhaps another good poll question would have been 'As soon as something better comes along that my social network moves to' .. as was stated in the article people (myself included) stay with Facebook purely for social networking. Privacy settings can go so far as to protect your data from other people, but as another poster has also pointed out, you face a daunting challenge to remove yourself from facebook once you decide to quit.

  7. The title of the article is: "What would make you quite Facebook?".

    The question in the poll is: "Has Facebook's privacy stance given you enough reason to quit?"

    They aren't the same thing. At all. Annoying as I only came here to see responses to the title question.

  8. Shanks Long · 105 days ago

    Anything you post on the internet is both public and usable. to think otherwise is naive. even this reply will be assessed by marketing people and to be able to post it SOPHOS requires my name and Email address, if I clicked on the facebook icon below SOPHOS would probably have my contact list. If you understand how big business and corporations (even SOPHOS) capture, use and manipulate our data then you are using facebook with your eyes open.

    • Just to be absolutely clear:

      You don't have to provide an email address when you comment, if you do provide an email address it doesn't have to be a real one and if you do provide a real one we won't be doing *anything at all* with it.

      If we're planning to do something with the information you're handing over we'll tell you what, clearly, in advance.

  9. Mike · 105 days ago

    Just don't go there in the first place. The more there is out there about you the more problems you are likely to encounter.

  10. I love Facebook and spend much of my free time there. I don't think I have given up control of my privacy. I control it by not posting private stuff in the public news feed. Facebook has enabled me to reconnect with family and friends from whom I was otherwise isolated. It has also connected me with people from around the world who share my interests and passions, and I have made some close friendships with people who I would have never met any other way.

  11. I hate the way facebook no longer lets you put things in time/date order insteading using what facebook thinks is most important. They get it wrong and as a result I missed something I wanted to go to.

  12. Sizzle Bizzle · 104 days ago

    Privacy is only given up when you give it up.
    Everyone has the choice of what they put on there. So, if you've put it up, it's your issue and don't complain.... same as airing your dirty laundry on the Jeremy Kyle show.
    I gave up Facebook because I was actually fearful of losing my grip on what being "social" actually meant! I don't care about privacy concerns as I've never given them what I deem as my private information.

  13. Paul Williams · 101 days ago

    The second option failed. You conflated two things. That one was a member knowingly; and that Facebook had a right.

  14. These are not the demographics you want. · 97 days ago

    I used to be a member, but "deleted" my account several years ago because of Zuckerberg's stated intent to remake society such that privacy isn't anything people value (paraphrased).

    Since then, ads that point to more info on FB, etc., have caused me to create a new account, with every single datum humorously fabricated (e.g., I graduated a non-existent trade school majoring in "Screwdrivers and pointy things"). I refuse to "friend" anybody to voind building a social graph. Even so, I use it very rarely, so, although my usage itself provides transaction data, I fall into a statistically meaningless demographic.

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About the author

John Zorabedian is a blogger, copywriter and editor at Sophos. He has a background in journalism, writing about technology, business, politics and culture. He lives and works in the Boston area.