Do You Plan on Leaving Facebook After Data Was Used to Control an Election?

We’ve all seen the news that a political data firm working with Donald Trump was given user data from Facebook to help them out during the election. This has some people so mad they want to leave the social network.

We asked some of our writers, “Do you plan on leaving Facebook after data was used to control an election?

Alex reports he is “incredibly done” with Facebook, explaining “I have maintained a dormant Facebook account on the off-chance I would require it professionally or the service would improve.” He feels like it has only steadily gotten worse, though. When he logged into his news feed to deactivate his account, he just found trash posts that he didn’t care about. He’s pleased to “wash [his] hands of the platform” and is “pleased to see the back of garbage-pile service and garbage-tier behavior.”

Miguel says he only uses it now for private communication with his mother and friends and notes whenever he discusses something political, he uses other platforms that offer more privacy. But he didn’t withdraw because of the data collection; he withdrew because of accounts being suspended because of “mainstream opinions” they held. All of the posts were in Romanian and dealt with Romanian politics, and he chalks this up to “Facebook’s complicity with the European Union’s objectives.” He plans to work on convincing his family members in the U.S. to communicate through other platforms.

He also notes that data was collected in previous elections in the same way and feels it’s the media who’s “ringing alarm bells” for the more recent election, which he finds interesting, since the data collection was less invasive than in previous elections.

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Simon reports that his social circles have a “use Facebook or bust” attitude, meaning he’s tied to using it and can’t quit “unless something backbreaking happens to the service, and people move off it in droves.” He’ll be sure to not install third-party apps, though, or use Facebook sign-in options until it’s rectified.

Ada ditched what she calls “Fakebook” six or seven years ago, despite her friends still using it. Unlike Simon, for her it’s “If you want to hear from me, this won’t happen on Facebook. Use email, the phone, or anything else instead.” She hasn’t heard from some of those friends in years, but it won’t force her to get back on Facebook, as she doesn’t like the tendency to be overly open.

But because of that, she was never posting a lot to Facebook, she doesn’t feel comfortable disclosing information and does not trust any privacy settings she doesn’t have control over. She even warned her friends who believe she is being paranoid. Additionally, she notes how much time it takes to follow your friends and she has too many things to do.

The news of the data collection during the election doesn’t change my mind about Facebook. I will still continue to use it. I admit to being on it more often than I should be. I check it periodically throughout the day. But it fits with my personality. l like to share, and I like to provide commentary on several things. It works for me. And i have different groups of friends on there that I know I wouldn’t be able to keep up with without it.

I noted that the WhatsApp cofounder has joined the “Delete Facebook” movement and wondered if that’s because he feels what Facebook did was wrong or if he feels it will better his own platform.

Miguel figures it’s probably a combination of both. Six of his friends have deleted their accounts entirely “because they were no longer able to make any statement without getting a thirty-day suspension.” He believes the movement is spreading rather quickly, especially in Europe, so figures other platforms will want to take advantage of it.

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He’s even considering using WhatsApp to communicate with his family, but not all of them use that, and even less use Telegram, which he suggests using “because of its self-destruct timer that allows for conversations that are at least somewhat protected.”

He still sees Facebook as “the most useful platform for sharing things publicly with the greatest amount of personal connections, but he also believes there are competitors on the horizon.

Simon thinks WhatsApp has a stake against Facebook since Facebook Messenger is a close competitor with WhatsApp. He thinks “they’ll look for any chance they can to strike at the kneecaps of their top competitor” if it means they can come out on top.

It’s interesting, too, with regards to age groups. I’m older, so my friends are on Facebook, but younger people all seem to be on Snapchat. I wonder if there ends up being a mass exodus off Facebook if they’ll go to WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc., or just stay off social media altogether.

What are your thoughts on this? Are you thinking of joining the “Delete Facebook” movement? Or would it be too hard for you to leave your friends? Where will you go instead of Facebook? Do you plan on leaving social media after data was used to control an election? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

9 comments

  1. Are we so naive to think that FB and Cambridge Analytics are the only ones harvesting data and trying to influence voters? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies providing the same service as Cambridge Analytics. There are also thousands of companies harvesting all the data they can about us. And as long our data is worth $Billons, data harvesting by all and sundry will continue.

    This “scandal” is not about FB. It is not about Cambridge Analystics. It is not even about data harvesting. It is about finding any reason to impeach Trump. In 2012 the Obama campaign used FB and Cambridge Analytics in exactly the same way to get him elected. Afterwards nobody complained about the voters being “illegally influenced”. Why? I supposed because the “right” candidate won. All this doodoo about data harvesting, illegal voter influencing, Russian meddling has hit the fan now because Trump was not supposed to win the election. Looks like the company Hillary’s campaign was using was not as good as Trump’s at influencing the voters.

    • Amen, brother, amen! Obama did it and all was well in the world, but evil orange Hitler does it and suddenly everyone is worried about their FB privacy. It is to laugh.

  2. Laura, you unfortunate victim of outcome based public education, NO ONE and NOTHING “controlled” the election. (I assume you wrote the headline.)

    Both Clinton and Trump benefited greatly from social media in their campaigns and the singling out the influence of Facebook is unfair.

    (FYI: Almost 8,000,000 voters didn’t vote for either of the two. Crunching the numbers, 52% of the electorate did not vote for teh Billary.)

    The DNC developed a Facebook app for Obama which millions used and happily allowed full access to their accounts and friends. The campaign “vacuumed” (their words) data and the media lauded it as GENIUS.

    But the same for Trump… TREASON!!

    Too many use Facebook for their window to the world. They should not be allowed to vote.

    I did the “delete facebook” thing a decade ago.

    Love maketecheasier via RSS; keep up the good work.

    • You certainly presume a lot. What makes you assume I had a public education? I have never stated anything about my education. And as far as the title, this is not an article of my opinions only. This is an article of several different writers’ opinions. So the title is not reflective of my feelings. And to take it further, the title was not written to express my opinion; the title was written to create interest in the article and to get people to read it and react. In that case, I think I hit my mark.

  3. When Obama’s team exploited facebook to help his election campaign (twice) it was seen as a master stroke of a “connected” politician. Now that the lazy media has this in a Trump context, it’s some kind of disastrous breech (and really just one more way to get ‘at’ Trump. Most don’t mention (they don’t want to?) that this is nothing really “new”. Ironically, all of the data so “exploited” was freely offered up by (many) clueless users of facebook who neither understand security nor privacy as they clicked through to various quizzes, contests and offers and, often, fake news articles. Sadly, your ISP, and Google, knows even MORE about you but we’re fretting over NSA and meta-data analysis trying to make connections to make us more secure? No, I’m not leaving facebook over this – the echo chamber nature of discussion there, perhaps, but not over this.

  4. Why is everybody so concerned? The Obama campaign HEAVILY used Facebook (and every other “social media”) and there was never a quibble, because most of the big tech firms are explicitly left-wing anyway. It’s only become a problem with conservatives have tried it.

  5. You are all missing the point of this ‘scandal’…what Trump and Cambridge Analytics did is certainly of major consideration, but it’s not the point. The ‘scandal’ is just what kind of “bad things” the data harvested by Facebook can be used for, and hundreds of millions of fence-sitting or disbelieving people, particularly Americans, have suddenly been smacked hard in the face with that knowledge. Up until now, the fact that the harvested data could be used for “bad things” has just been theoretical…the worst visible thing the data has been used for is displaying relevant ads (which actually was a failure, since ads are never relevant), and ad-blockers take care of that problem. Now, however, everyone has been made aware that the data can be used for things like getting Trump elected – with worse things likely to come – and they’re pissed right off. The backlash against Facebook’s data harvesting is likely going to continue to grow, and the high, public visibility of what Trump and Cambridge Analytics did is likely going to be used in an (hopefully successful) attempt to bring Facebook under control…or get rid of it.

    • While what you say may be true as far as FB goes. However, all this crap about “voter influencing” and “Russian meddling” is nothing more than a political witch hunt by the Liberals, PO’ed because Hillary did not get crowned as she was supposed to.

      Data gathering and voter profiling based on that data goes back decades before Mark Zuckerberg was even a gleam in his fathers eye. Internet just facilitates data harvesting. These data harvesters used to be, and still are, called ‘pollsters’. Ever hear of the Gallup, Roper or Siena Polls? They and many others do the job of influencing the American electorate’s opinions, i.e.”voter influencing”.

      “Voter influencing” was not invented by Trump and Cambridge Scientific. It goes back thousands of years to Athens and the beginning of democracy. Ever since, every candidate’s backers have tried to influence voters by claiming that the other candidates are nothing but crooks, shysters and perverts. Look at US history to see how candidates were portrayed by their opponents. Lincoln was portrayed in political cartoons as an orangutan. Grant as a drunk. FDR as an aristocrat trying to become a President for life. Wendell Willkie, FDR’s opponent was portrayed as a third rate incompetent. etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam.

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