More Facebook users are taking a breather and reshaping the way they use the platform, as the social media company faces intense scrutiny over privacy and other issues. Could this spell trouble for businesses who want to build a reputable brand?
According to new data from Pew Research Center, about four-in-10 (42 percent) of U.S. Facebook users 18 and older said they have taken a break from the site for at least several weeks in the past 12 months, while 26 percent said they have completely deleted the app from their cellphones and 54 percent have adjusted their privacy settings.
"Given all of the negative publicity surrounding Cambridge Analytica and other Facebook privacy scandals, it is not surprising that people are taking a break from Facebook and even removing the app from their mobile phones. Some people will never trust Facebook after this. However, even with the attrition, Facebook commands a huge user base and those users spend a lot of time online,” said Dan Goldstein, president of Page 1 Solutions, a full-service digital marketing agency.
Facebook also faced scrutiny from lawmakers over alleged conservative censorship.
Despite the findings, some believe it may not have a big impact on Facebook’s bottom line.
“Facebook remains an extremely effective vehicle for businesses to build their brands and attract new customers,” Goldstein said. “Still, Facebook is only one of several digital marketing channels that any business should be using to market to its target audience. The ideal marketing strategy involves multiple channels depending on the specific audience you want to target.”
Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook announced changes to its data and privacy settings, saying that it would no longer allow third-party data for targeting ads and made it easier for users to find privacy tools.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testified on Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee on efforts to identify and prevent efforts by foreign governments to spread false information on the platform.
Facebook is expected to rake in $21 billion in U.S. digital ad revenues in 2019, up 16.9 percent from last year, according to eMarketer. However, its share of the U.S. digital ad market will shrink to 19.6 percent from 19.9 percent in 2017.