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The Cambridge Analytica scandal hasn’t really hurt Facebook at all

Published May 7th, 2018 8:45AM EDT
Cabridge Analytica
Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

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Despite all of the outrage directed at Facebook on account of the Cambridge Analytica saga, a new poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos reveals that the social networking giant hasn’t seen a significant drop-off in usage over the past few weeks. So even though Facebook is still being lambasted by the tech media, and even though a handful of tech observers are still encouraging the masses to delete their Facebook accounts, the cold hard data suggests that Facebook users aren’t fleeing the site in any meaningful way.

The poll specifically found that about 43% of surveyed Facebook users hadn’t changed their usage habits in the weeks following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. What’s more, 22% of respondents indicated that they actually use Facebook more. Meanwhile, 16% of respondents indicated that they use Facebook less with 3% indicating that they’ve deleted their account altogether.

Reuters adds:

That means that the people using Facebook less were roughly balanced by those using it more, with no clear net loss or gain in use.

Among all adults, 64 percent said they use Facebook at least once a day, down slightly from 68 percent who said so in a similar poll in late March, shortly after news organizations reported Cambridge Analytica’s activity.

The poll results shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given that a good deal of the anti-Facebook sentiment that tends to make waves comes from folks who either a) don’t have a Facebook account or b) don’t tend to use the site often. Indeed, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during his testimony before Congress last month that there hasn’t been a significant drop in overall usage rates.

Below is a brief excerpt of a pertinent exchange between Mark Zuckerberg and Senator Ron Johnson:

Johnson: With all this publicity, have you documented any kind of backlash from Facebook users? I mean, has there been a dramatic falloff of the number of people that utilize Facebook because of these concerns?

Zuckerberg: Senator, there has not.

Johnson: You haven’t even witnessed any?

Zuckerberg: Senator, there was a movement where some people were encouraging their friends to delete their accounts. I think that got shared a bunch?

Johnson: So it’s kind of safe to say that Facebook users don’t seem to be overly concerned about all these revelations, although obviously Congress apparently is?

Zuckerberg: Well Senator, I think people are concerned about it and I think these are incredibly important issues that people want us to address. And I think people have told us that very clearly.

Johnson: It seems like Facebook users still want to use the platform, because they enjoy sharing photos. They share their connectivity with their family members. That type of thing. And that overrides their concerns about privacy.

The full poll data from Reuters/Ipsos can be viewed over here.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.