Aldo Agostinelli

In America the honeymoon period between Zuckerberg’s social network and its users seems to be over. At least judging from the data collected by several surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, according to which the platform users have been distancing themselves from it, also showing a certain level of mistrust. Of course, nobody knows whether this is going to be a temporary trend. However, one of the abovementioned surveys, involving  4,594 people, revealed that over 50% of the over 18 have changed their privacy settings in the last 12 months, 42% have taken a few-week “pause for breath” and, more drastically, 26% have cancelled the Facebook app from their smartphones. Most interviewees (74%) have actually performed one of such three actions over the last year (Americans are changing their relationship with Facebook)

Age makes the difference

Is this due to the Cabridge Analytica scandal? Partially so. Since political suspicions have also given a little extra push to such complex situation for Menlo Park now. Basically, republican users are convinced they are being censored by the social platform. Figures, anyway, show that such haemorrhage of users is due to age rather than to an ideological clash. Actually, users who have removed the app from their smartphones belong to both the democratic and the republican parties. Age, on the other hand, seems to affect the platform trends quite heavily. 44% of those who have uninstalled the app are aged between 18 and 29, against 12% of the over 65, and 64% of young users have changed their privacy settings, against only 30% of adults.

Viceversa, they all seemed to agree on the fact of taking a temporary pause from the social network.

With regard to privacy, after Facebook had updated its settings, 9% of the interviewees have removed their personal data, thus limiting their accessibility, while  79% have decided to modify their own privacy settings and the remaining have cancelled the app from their phones.

Mistrust effect

If about two third of adult Americans keep searching for news by using some kind of social media (68%), and more specifically Facebook (43%) which, in this case is still top of the chart, 57% are skeptical about the accuracy of such news.
It is actually young people who are the stronger believer in the positive action of social media with reference to information. 48% of people aged 18-29, indeed, believe news found on social media can help them keeping updated and better informed. Whereas the older they audience the lower the trust: 37% for people aged 30-49,  28% for those aged 50-64 and  27% for over +65  (News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2018).

Concerning Facebook, the greatest problem is that most interviewees  (53%) cannot understand how the news feed service works and only 14% believe they can actually control the news they read. And, also in this case, age is a relevant factor: 46% of users aged under 50 have taken action to control their news feed, against 28% of those aged between 50 and 64 and 19% of over 65 (Many Facebook users don’t understand how the site’s news feed works)

As I have already explained, one of the reasons behind Facebook decline is the fact the youngest users have been massively leaving (Facebook launches Home Service but young users keep escaping). But a certain inability to communicate their inner mechanism has contributed, generating  mistrust among users. And the platform will have to provide a solution for such issue, too.

Have you taken a space for breath from Facebook, have you removed the app from your phone or are you among those who have never used it? Tell me the reason of your choice tweeting @agostinellialdo  

To find out more about the digital world, you may read my latest book: “People Are Media” 

If you liked this post, you may also like “Apple: its news feed is appealing but little profitable


Aldo Agostinelli