Earlier this week, Pew Research Center reported that Americans who use Facebook are changing how they’re using the platform and, in many ways, backing away from the platform in small ways.
I am among the American Facebook users who have engaged Facebook differently in the last year or so.
I have deleted all Facebook-related apps from my phone except “Pages,” which I need for work emergencies in case I need access on my phone.
I adjusted my Facebook privacy settings to their most strict options.
I post to Facebook far less than I ever have.
I didn’t think I was alone in these changes, but I definitely didn’t think that Americans were taking steps like this on such a large scale.
Let’s dig into the numbers and then see if we can interpret some implications of this data.
What Do the Numbers Say?
Here is a summary of the most notable statistics from the Pew report:
54% of American Facebook users 18 and older adjusted their privacy settings in the last year
42% have taken a break from checking the platform for several weeks or more
26% have deleted the Facebook app from their cellphone
In total, 74% of Americans have taken one of those actions in the last year.
Here’s a graph depicting that data;
One of the most interesting bits from this study is the age range breakdown of who took each of those actions to back away from Facebook a bit.
Look at this chart:
For each of the three actions Pew surveyed, 18-29 year olds were the most likely to take those actions. More 18-29 year olds adjusted their privacy settings, took a break for several weeks, and deleted the Facebook app from their phones than any other age group.
Man. If we could just get those kids off their social media platforms.
Likewise, the 65+ year olds were the least likely to take any of these actions except for when it came to taking a break from the platform (they basically tied with 30-64 year olds on this one).
At the end of the day, the data tells us that roughly half of Americans took some sort of action that would signify a desire to back off of Facebook in one way or another. Some adjusted their privacy settings to restrict the kind of data Facebook can access. Some took an extended break from the platform. Some deleted the app entirely.
So we have to ask:
What Do the Numbers Mean?
Honestly, because of my transient disdain of Facebook as a platform, I would love to be able to tell you these numbers are a sign that Facebook is about to die. But I can’t tell you that. Because I don’t think that the data tells us that.
Americans are definitely taking a break in their relationship with Facebook, but it doesn’t look like they’re breaking up with the platform altogether.
In the last quarter alone, Facebook added 22 million users PER DAY. It is astounding to me that there are still that many people in the world without a Facebook account. Get this: when that stat was announced, Facebook stock plunged because that was the slowest user growth ever recorded for the platform in a quarter.
So while Facebook user growth is slowing, and about half of Americans are taking some steps back from the platform, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
I highly recommend taking some of these steps with Facebook and other social media platforms. Treat every social media platform as a bucket with holes in it. Whatever information you dump into these platforms is going to leak out and potentially be used for anything from serving you an ad to denying you a job.
In terms of strategy, this data shouldn’t affect your strategy on Facebook. Keep sharing content that serves and encourages people. That will never go out of style.
I would encourage you to take a break from Facebook though. Definitely adjust your privacy settings (learn how to do that here). Maybe even delete the app from your phone. I have really enjoyed not having the ability to check it at a moment’s notice.
Chris Martin is the Co-Creator and Chief Content Officer at LifeWay Social as well as a Content Strategist at LifeWay. He and his wife Susie live outside Nashville, TN.