As anyone who has been slightly paying attention to the news over the past month knows, Facebook has been in a lot hot water over a data scandal. With so much pressure and negative attention, there are some who say that this could mean the end of Facebook as droves of people leave the site. This isn’t the first time marketers have heard this doom and gloom scenario for Facebook, but is this time different? The short answer is “no”, and a recent survey suggests the recent scandal will have a minimal effect on user retention.
Tellwut, an online survey firm, conduct an online survey of over 3000 members between April 4-8, 2018 to see how consumers felt about the recent Facebook controversy and how they would respond. The results show that a large majority of Facebook users aren’t as concerned about this issue as some would suggest.
In the study, Tellwut found that of the 83 percent of past and present Facebook account holders in the survey, nearly seven out of 10 (69 percent) had no interest in closing their Facebook account as a result of the recent privacy breach revelations surrounding Cambridge Analytica’s access to Facebook account holders data.
This doesn’t mean the other 30 percent had jumped ship. In fact, while 23 percent were “thinking about closing their Facebook account”, only 3 percent said that they had closed their account as a result of the recent allegations and 5 percent said they closed their account for other reasons. Facebook marketers who have been watching their Page Like counts will have noticed some drops in fan numbers, but nothing dramatic. And better still, even this small wave of Facebook departures has just about run its course.
The Tellwut survey also showed that demographics played a large role in determinging how people felt and planned to react in response to the data scandal. Tellwut’s demographic analysis found that 70 percent of Americans versus 67 percent of Canadians had no plans to close their account. Female survey respondents were far more likely to keep their account open at 71 percent versus males at 62 percent. In the 18-34 age group, just 1 in 20 (5 percent) had already closed their account because of recent privacy issues versus only 1 in 50 (2 percent) of the 50+ crowd.
The results of the Tellwut survey strongly suggest that the latest Facebook scandal will blow over and that most users (in North America) will continue to use and benefit from the service. On the issue of misinformation campaigns on social media, most users have faith in their own ability to separate truth from propaganda. When members in another survey were asked if they felt they may have been swayed to vote differently based on ads, blogs, etc. they saw on social media. Nearly three in four (73 percent) of Americans said no they weren’t affected, 12 percent thought yes and 15 percent were undecided.
However, they were a bit more dubious of the ability of others to do the same. When asked if they felt other people could have been swayed, nearly half (49 percent) of Americans said yes, 24 percent said no and 27 percent were undecided. When asked specifically if they believed fake news impacts voting results 64 percent of Americans said yes, 14 percent said no and 22 percent were undecided.
On the issue of data privacy, many Americans were somewhat ambivalent on the issue. Here are a few of the respondents given by survey respondents:
K_W says: I never have written anything on my Facebook account that I didn’t want anyone else to know. It’s creepy to me to know that security has been breached, but it’s not something that I’m afraid of or ashamed for anyone else to know.
tamster1764 says: I think it is a risk you take on any social media. Now if it was information like banking, yearly income, taxes, home address or phone number then I would be concerned. I never post anything on social media that I would be concerned may get in the wrong hands.
97B40 says: If any social media access is FREE then have you ever wondered how they make money? Well, they make money be selling your information, where you live, what your preferences are, what you think, who are your contacts, what you buy and where. So you are their product. They track everything you do online!
Long story short, marketers shouldn’t worry too much about losing their audiences on Facebook. The current scandal doesn’t look good for the company, but it’s clear that most Americans love/need Facebook enough to overlook its flaws.
For more recent news about social media marketing, read this article on how this current scandal is changing app rules for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.