Despite mostly negative coverage, the Cambridge Analytica data scandal doesn’t appear to have had a material impact on Facebook’s usage. Advertisers haven’t curtailed their spending, and, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released yesterday, most users are staying put.
The poll was conducted at the end of April among a sample of just over 2,000 social media users. Included in the sample were more than 1,000 Twitter and Instagram users. The key question asked was, “Have you changed how frequently you use Facebook recently?”
About 74 percent said they use the site at least once a day, and a similar percentage said they either “use it more” (26 percent) or “haven’t changed how much I use it” (49 percent).
Roughly 23 percent report using Facebook less recently. That breaks down as: 18 percent (“I use it less”), 4 percent (“I stopped using it, but I still have an account”) and 1 percent (“I’ve deleted my account”). An additional 2 percent said they didn’t have a Facebook account.
During its recent earnings announcement, Facebook reported daily active users were up 13 percent year over year to 1.45 billion. Monthly active users totaled 2.2 billion, also up 13 percent. Those figures are global. In Canada and the US, however, growth was flat: The company reported 185 million daily users, essentially unchanged from last year.
Responding to the question, “Are you aware of your current privacy settings on Facebook?” Reuters/Ipsos respondents said:
Although it’s not entirely consistent with the previous question, roughly 78 percent said they knew how to change their Facebook privacy settings, while 22 percent said “no” or “don’t know.” And 44 percent said they had in fact recently changed their privacy settings. The remaining 56 percent said they hadn’t (53 percent) or didn’t know how to (3 percent).
Asked “How much control do you believe you have over who gets to see the information you store on Facebook,” survey respondents said:
Surveys generally reveal a bell curve when it comes to social media privacy. Some users are very concerned, some are not, and the rest are in the middle, expressing concern but not enough to substantially change their behavior or quit.
This survey shows something similar, with people trying to exercise some control over data privacy but resigned to the fact that they cannot entirely. It’s likely an implicit recognition that people are trading their data for free access to Facebook. Reportedly, Facebook is considering an ad-free subscription option.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal was first reported in March and generated the #deletefacebook movement, with only about 1 percent doing so, according to this survey.