"Quit Facebook Day" came and went Monday, and you may notice this morning that "your friends list will still largely be intact," says Dan Fletcher in Time. The "Quit Facebook Day" protest website claimed that 31,000 people had pledged to drop out in a show of anger over Facebook's privacy problems, an infinitesimal sum compared to the site's more than 400 million users. One survey by interactive research firm Vision Critical projected that no more than 2 percent of American account holders had any intention of quitting. (Watch a Reuters report about "Quit Facebook Day" hype.) Here, three theories why the protest flopped:
1. Facebook's new privacy rules sapped the protesters' strength
Although "Quit Facebook Day" agitators made the case that Facebook's privacy settings were abusively complex, a few days before the protesters' planned exodus, says Ian Paul in PC World, Facebook responded by "making it simpler for users to control their privacy." The three big changes — consolidating privacy controls on one page, letting people block others from seeing their profile, giving users the ability to opt out of the platform delivering games and other activities — probably helped soothe many angry Facebook users.
2. Facebook has become a necessity people are reluctant to do without
People depend on services like Facebook to keep in touch with their networks, says Jennifer Leggio in ZDNet, so they're not "willing to vote with their feet" and go elsewhere. There was never much chance this "online tantrum" would turn into a mass exodus. Many of the people complaining about Facebook's privacy policies turn around and happily chat on public Twitter feeds. If they wanted privacy, they would be more private. And if they were "serious about a boycott," they would just do it, "and then try to bring others to follow them."
3. People are taking privacy into their own hands
The majority of Facebook users are aware of the site's problems, says Benny Evangelista at the San Francisco Chronicle, so, after a certain amount of venting, they're taking charge of their profiles and sticking around on their own terms. In the same Vision Critical poll, 81 percent said they had started using Facebook more carefully, and 76 percent said they had stopped sharing as much personal information as before.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- How my boyfriend and I learned to live on one income
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- Affirmative action is doomed. Here's what progressives should do about it.
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Obama's next steps on immigration
- How to make perfect fried rice in 6 easy steps
- What Pope John Paul II could have learned from Sinead O'Connor
Subscribe to the Week