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7/11/2014
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Could You Quit Facebook For 99 Days?

The "99 Days of Freedom" campaign suggests that a Facebook hiatus could make you happier. Will you accept the challenge?

Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings To Check
Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings To Check
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Love it or hate it, Facebook has become part of our everyday lives: More than 802 million people log on daily and spend 17 minutes onsite. But if a three-month hiatus from your all your friends, photos, and posts meant you'd be happier, could you do it?

One Dutch nonprofit has challenged Facebook users to do just that: Log off of Facebook for 99 days and participate in "happiness surveys" to determine whether their mood improves.

The 99 Days of Freedom initiative stemmed from Facebook's controversial experiment in which it tinkered with users' news feeds to determine whether it could change their emotional state.

[Learn how to protect your Facebook data. Read 4 Facebook Privacy Intrusion Fixes.]

Researchers found that when Facebook showed users more positive posts, they were more likely to share positive status messages. When Facebook showed users more negative posts, they were more likely to share negative status messages. Almost 700,000 Facebook users unknowingly enrolled in the experiment, upsetting many people and prompting an FTC complaint.

"Like a lot of Facebook users, many of us were bothered by reports of secret mood experiments," said Merijn Straathof, art director of Just, the creative agency behind the challenge. "As we discussed it internally, we noted an interesting tendency: Everyone had at least a 'complicated' relationship with Facebook. Then someone joked, 'I guess that the real question is, 'How do you feel when you don't use Facebook?' There was group laughter, followed by, 'Wait a second. That's a really good question.'"

The 99 Days of Freedom initiative doesn't suggest that you quit Facebook forever, only that you pledge to take a three-month hiatus. In those three months, you could bank more than 28 hours of free time that you otherwise would have spent on Facebook, it said.

If you join the challenge, the 99 Days of Freedom website encourages you to change your profile picture to a "time-off" image and publish one last status update -- a link to a countdown displaying how much time remains until you log back on.

If you pledge to participate, the initiative will check in with you at the 33-, 66-, and 99-day mark and ask you to participate in "happiness surveys" to gauge your mood. Results will be posted on their website, which will also feature a message board where you can share accounts of how your Facebook hiatus is impacting your life, it said.

This isn't the first time Facebook users have pledged to quit the social network en masse. In 2010, a group of Facebook users teamed up to organize a "Quit Facebook Day" following a round of controversial changes to its privacy policy.

The Quit Facebook Day website, which still accepts commitments to quit, has racked up fewer than 41,000 pledges to quit since it launched in 2010. So far, only 7,000 people have pledged to participate in 99 Days of Freedom, according to a counter on the initiative's website.

Straathof said that this experiment isn't intended to be anti-Facebook, though some people may join to protest it. "Facebook is an incredible platform -- we're all fiercely loyal users and we believe that there's a lot to love about the service," he said. "But we also feel that there are obvious emotional benefits to moderation. Our prediction is that the experiment will yield a lot of positive personal experiences and, 99 days from now, we'll know whether that theory has legs."

Could you quit Facebook -- either temporarily or permanently? What would you -- and wouldn't you -- miss the most?

Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards, and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators. Read our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue today.

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
8/1/2014 | 8:59:14 AM
Re: social networking
@Joe I agree entirely, but you'd be surprised how many emails I get from readers and how many friends ask me to help them with their settings. It's easy for me since I cover Facebook, but I understand why it's confusing to others. Maybe I should start charging. :-)
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 11:25:20 PM
Re: Group love
@PaulS681: Well before the days of separate, individual profiles, my Netflix recommendations got all screwed up when I let my girlfriend use my account to watch her chick flicks and Victorian dramas.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/31/2014 | 11:21:33 PM
Re: social networking
> "left Facebook a couple years ago when she was looking for a new job because figuring out her privacy settings wasn't worth it to her"

It's really not that hard these days; it's all hype.  Figuring out your privacy settings on Facebook is the new "programming the VCR" in terms of technical aptitude/intelligence.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
7/30/2014 | 5:08:53 PM
Re: Group love
This make me rememeber the days of Tivo where it would pick shows it think you liked based on what you watched/recorded.There was  apretty funny King of Queen episode on that.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
7/30/2014 | 3:39:08 PM
Re: social networking
One of my good friends left Facebook a couple years ago when she was looking for a new job because figuring out her privacy settings wasn't worth it to her. Now, though, she uses both Instagram and Twitter. Why?  Either your profile is public or private. Something to be said for simplicity.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 10:37:12 PM
Re: Group love
@Kristin: The only personalized online experience I have ever particularly enjoyed (that I can recall, anyway) was old-school Netflix, with its once-excellent recommendation algorithm.

Gone are those days, however.  Now instead the site just insists on pushing a bunch of shows and movies I have no interest in on me.  It's pretty disgusting...and if there was better game in town for online TV show-watching, I'd switch at the drop of a hat.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 10:34:12 PM
Re: Already Did. Not Missing it one bit. More free time to do what I want to do.
@Angelfuego: There have indeed been numerous reports of teens abandoning Facebook -- seeing it as the more boring mainstream social site that their parents use -- for several other social networks.  Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and social question sites have become much more popular among that demographic.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 10:29:09 PM
Re: Oh, for goodness sakes...
I myself have witnessed several Facebook friends announce they were deleting their Facebook accounts once and for all...only to see them crawling back a month or two later.

The day I decide to quit Facebook for good, there will be no big announcement from me.  I'll just be gone.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
7/17/2014 | 6:00:03 PM
Re: Already Did. Not Missing it one bit. More free time to do what I want to do.
@Susan, That is interesting. I wonder if the younger users are switching to another form of social media instead of Facebbok, if they are just withdrawing from social media all together, or if the younger generations are steering away from being first time Facebook users.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
7/16/2014 | 5:03:37 PM
Re: 99 days? I haven't used FB for the last 6 months
I went on a vacation and not connecting to Facebook felt great.  I'm not a compulsive Facebook user.  In some cases, many people use Facebook obsessively, they post their mundane activities on it.  Personally, if one is to keep up with family and friends who live far away its great other wise. Moderation has always been my rule.
Page 1 / 5   >   >>
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