The shocking revelations of a massive breach at Facebook, which allegedly allowed a firm called Cambridge Analytica to use the data of 50 million users without their consent, have led to #deletefacebook, initiated by livid users of Facebook to encourage everyone to give up the world’s largest and most successful social media network. This, among other issues that have hounded Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has caused the company’s market value to lose $50 billion, according to Recode.
That’s why more and more people are deleting Facebook. People are mainly concerned about what they perceive is Facebook’s cavalier and irresponsible handling of users’ data, which were allegedly acquired by a psychology professor through mundane Facebook quizzes that once dominated news feeds a few years ago. The goal, for many of the users boycotting the social media site, is to fight for and uphold their right to privacy on the internet.
But regaining online privacy (or perhaps just some semblance of it) could be just one of the positive results of getting off Facebook. A study by Eric Vanman and company published in The Journal of Social Psychology confirmed that ditching Facebook — at least temporarily — resulted to lower stress levels for regular Facebook users.
In their study, 138 participants, active Facebook users, were assigned to either of the two conditions: one, in which they would abstain from using Facebook for a five days, and another in which the participants would use Facebook as they regularly do. The psychologists found that those who took a break from Facebook had lower perceived stress levels, as well as lower levels of cortisol, also known as “stress hormones.”
However, abstaining from Facebook also led to a lowered level of subjective life satisfaction — possibly brought about by the feeling of being disconnected to your social groups.
“Our results suggest that the typical Facebook user may occasionally find the large amount of social information available taxing, and Facebook vacations could ameliorate this stress—at least in the short-term,” wrote the researchers.
So, those looking to permanently delete Facebook in light of recent scandals involving misused data are in for unintended psychological effects. Readying oneself for a Facebook-less life could be more complicated than just deleting your account, it appears.