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London - Facebook users are quitting the social network in droves due to privacy concerns and fear of internet addiction, according to new research.
Increasing numbers are taking part in what’s been dubbed “virtual identity suicide” and deleting their accounts.
Analysis of more than 600 people, by researchers from the University of Vienna, found that data protection issues and social pressure to add friends were also among the reasons for leaving.
Others quoted shallow conversations, general dissatisfaction and loss of interest in the site.
Earlier this year, reports suggested that Facebook lost 9 million active monthly users in the US and 2 million in Britain.
These figures originated from research carried out by analytics firm SocialBakers in April.
Monthly active users are the number of people who log into their account over a 30-day period.
SocialBakers saw a drop in this figure prior to the report in April.
However, only because a person doesn’t log on for 30 days does not mean they have left the site entirely.
Psychologist Stefan Stieger from the university recorded each of the 600 participants’ responses to assessment measures based on their level of concern over various issues.
Those who stopped using social media were more concerned about privacy, had higher addiction scores and tended to be more conscientious.
Professor Stieger said: “It could be possible that personality traits influence the likelihood of quitting one’s Facebook account indirectly via privacy concerns and internet addiction.
“In this case, the concern about one’s privacy and internet addiction propensity would not be directly in charge for quitting one’s Facebook account, but would function as mediators of the underlying personality traits.”
Compared to the sample of those who continued to use Facebook, the quitters were older, on average, and more likely to be male.
Reasons for quitting Facebook were mainly privacy concerns, followed by a general dissatisfaction, negative aspects of online friends and the feeling of getting addicted.
Brenda Wiederhold, editor of the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, which published the findings, said: “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.
“With photo tags, profiling, and internet dependency issues, research such as Professor Stieger’s is very timely.” – Daily Mail
REASONS FOR QUITTING
Privacy concerns: 48.3 percent
General dissatisfaction: 13.5 percent
Shallow conversations: 12.6 percent
Fear of becoming addicted: 6 percent
Source: Statcounters/Eircom B&A Survey