The hashtag #DeleteFacebook felt like a small but genuinely significant victory for some of the social network’s critics, angry about the firm’s part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, the movement’s impact on the company it was focused on may, in reality, have been negligible.
Raj Samani, McAfee’s Chief Scientist, believes it’s a little too early for us all to start patting ourselves on the back.
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“It’s not possible for me to say how many people actually did delete their Facebook account, but [#DeleteFacebook] got 62,000 mentions at its peak,” he told Trusted Reviews. “That sounds like a lot, but actually it wasn’t a huge amount. If each account is worth $6, which is what the average revenue per user is, that’s a loss of $360,000. That’s not a lot.”
In the US, the average revenue per user is just under $27 per account, which would add up to less than $1.7 million. “Either way, it’s not a lot.”
We’ve asked Facebook how many users deleted their accounts in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and will update this article if the company responds to our request. If Samani’s estimate is accurate though, anyone that wants to see Facebook burn to the ground might feel a little disheartened.
However, most of us would argue that #DeleteFacebook wasn’t just about trying to hit the company in the wallet, it was about sending out a message. That we’ve started taking privacy more seriously, and have grown wise to Facebook’s − and other big firms’ − data collection practices, and we won’t stand for it anymore.
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Does Samani think this could be a turning point?
“I don’t think so,” he says. “I don’t want people to turn around and say I want to switch off Facebook. It’s not a binary thing, it’s not about switching it on or off. It’s about beginning to question the types of information they have about you, beginning to question the transparency of the data that you share across all platforms, not just Facebook.”
Samani thought it was rich of some companies to attempt to get in on the #DeleteFacebook action by removing their Pages or ads from the site.
“I think what’s happened is that Facebook has taken the ire of the majority of society but the reality is it’s only one of many digital companies that are leveraging and exploiting and monetising personal data. Many other companies do this, but Facebook is the one in Congress over it,” he says.
“Be under no illusion, everyone’s at it. They’re all doing the same thing.”
Do you think #DeleteFacebook was the start of something big? Share your thoughts @TrustedReviews.