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why people quit facebook




Quitting Facebook: Why Do People Leave Social Networks?

New Rochelle, NY, September 16, 2013—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, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

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 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."

Study Highlights and Results

According to the researchers, 310 Facebook "quitters" were questioned about their reasons for leaving Facebook. In addition, both the quitters and 321 current users of Facebook completed questionnaires to measure privacy concerns, Internet addiction, and Big Five personality traits.

The most significant difference between quitters and users centered on privacy concerns, which were the most cited reason given for quitting Facebook. Quitters also showed higher Internet addiction scores, but there was no difference found in Big Five personality traits except for a slightly elevated effect for conscientiousness.

"Although conscientious individuals have been reported to use the Internet less frequently," the researchers wrote, "Facebook quitters showed the opposite pattern. This might suggest that the wish to reduce the amount of time spent on Facebook could have been a main reason for quitting Facebook." However, when this possibility was examined more closely, the researchers concluded that there was not a consistent configuration of scores between Internet addiction and conscientiousness that was common to all quitters. In all, about 7 percent of quitters cited spending too much time on Facebook as their main reason for disabling their profile.

Overall, five broad categories emerged as the main reasons users chose to quit Facebook. These had to do with the security of personal data; a personal sense of feeling addicted; negative impressions of interactions with friends; general dissatisfaction with the Facebook platform; and other miscellaneous motivations such as the inconvenience of unsolicited emails.

While the study was limited by its small sample size, the researchers note that connecting with those who have quit Facebook is necessarily more difficult than connecting with those who haven't.


Who Commits Virtual Identity Suicide? Differences in Privacy Concerns, Internet Addiction, and Personality Between Facebook Users and Quitters,” Stefan Stieger, Christoph Burger, Manuel Bohn, and Martin Voracek. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, September 2013, 16(9): 629-634. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0323.


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Press materials provided by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News.  Content may be edited for length, study highlights not included in original release.

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