10 Reasons Why Americans Are Unfriending Facebook

Pew research shows that more people are distancing themselves from the platform.

Posted Jan 15, 2019

Okay, so you need your LinkedIn account for work. And Twitter is where all the news happens. The voyeur in you likes Snapchat and Instagram. The craft nut likes Pinterest. But Facebook? Apparently, that’s what a lot of people are asking themselves.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 42 percent of American adults report that they have taken a siesta from the platform and not checked their feeds for several weeks. And 26 percent of Americans have deleted the app off their smartphones.

Here are 10 possible reasons underlying Facebook attrition.

  1. Fake news. You can’t trust everything you read online, and fake news is a big distractor. (Fake news is defined as news that’s not verifiable, transparent, and coherent.) Facebook is a colossal disseminator of fake news. In a January 2019 article published in Science Advances, Andrew Guess and colleagues found that Facebook users aged 65 years and older shared seven times as many fake news articles during the 2016 presidential election than did younger users. This finding was pronounced among conservative and very conservative Facebook users, which aligns with the fact that most fake news spread during the 2016 election had a pro-Trump angle. On a related note, some users may be getting tired of reading about politics altogether.

  2. Overload. Facebook sends out lots of notifications, texts, and emails. The collected weight of this solicitation may have finally taken its toll. After all, it can be disconcerting to get a friend suggestion for a person you actually hate. It can also be annoying to get a birthday notification for a person you met once. And random friend requests—who and where do they come from?

    Source: bizoon/123RF
  3. Feeling blue. Nobody wants to feel bad when they’re on social media. But according to a 2012 study done by Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge, it appears that people who spend more time on Facebook looking at pictures and videos posted by others tend to think that their own lives are less happy and joyful by comparison.

  4. Thin content. Lots of the content on Facebook is quite thin. How important is it for you to see your second-cousin’s kid standing in front of a limo before prom? Or another duck-face selfie?

  5. Creepy advertising. Have you ever wondered why Facebook showed you a specific advertisement at a specific time? Did it seem too personal, weird, or creepy? Well, there’s a contingent of users who thinks that Facebook spies on them. If you're interested in learning more, these users had their suspicions put to the test on a November 2, 2017, episode of Reply All

  6. Extra time. The less time for Facebook, the more time for real life activities, including studying, exercising, hobbies, and hanging out with friends in the flesh.

  7. Privacy. Cambridge Analytica grabbed headlines for gathering information on millions of Facebook users and then using this data to help sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump. In turn, Facebook claimed it had been duped in letting Cambridge Analytica advertise on its site. But the damage had been done. Some users lost trust in privacy on Facebook.

  8. Relationship killer. In a 2015 study, Ron Hammond and Hui-Tzu Grace Chou found that time spent on Facebook is negatively correlated with satisfaction in the quality of intimate relationships. In other words, people who used Facebook more were less happy with their love lives.

    Maksym Yemelyanov / 123RF
    Source: Maksym Yemelyanov / 123RF
  9. Losing appeal to millennials. Facebook is a social media platform for everyone. All users are welcome, including grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and teachers. If a young person shares something personal on Facebook, there’s a good chance that it will be seen by a parent, other relative, or authority figure. Instead, younger people turn to other social media apps like Snapchat or Instagram to share privately; these apps are less likely to be used by adults who they know.

  10. Living vicariously. Some users have complained that they spend way too much time on Facebook living vicariously through the posts of others. Instead of living other peoples’ lives, these users may have disengaged from Facebook to live their own.