Could You Quit Facebook For 99 Days? - InformationWeek
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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
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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?

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Kristin Burnham currently serves as'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, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Strategist
7/11/2014 | 5:28:32 PM
The face of freedom in one week without FB or any social networking
Day 1 :| 

Day 2 :{ 

Day 3 :( 

Day 4 :[ 

Day 5 :S 

Day 5 :F 

Day 6 :B 

Day 7 :FB 
User Rank: Apprentice
7/11/2014 | 4:57:17 PM
Oh the self indulgence!
I struggle to understand why anyone cares about what I or anyone does on a daily basis? Here is an idea, take a walk, talk to your kids, run a non-profit for the neediest children in your community. Sure there are some good things you can do with facebook when it comes to charity events, class reunions, etc but posting about your daily life, really, why? I had a neighbor post that I was up on my roof cleaning the gutters and don't we have enough money for hired help, the street exploded with gosip on Facebook. When someone asked what I thought about her comments, I told her,  "I am not on Facebook and never have been besides, who is using their time more productively, she or I"? After that I went for a 6 mile run.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/11/2014 | 4:42:04 PM
99 Days?
Eh... I quit Facebook for good almost four years ago and have not had the slightest desire to go back. Good riddance to that time-wasting privacy violation.

Could I quit it for 99 days? I don't think I could stomach using it for 99 days...
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
7/11/2014 | 3:58:36 PM
Re: Tough Call
>It's not FB, per se; it's the people with whom I stay in touch primarily through FB, many of whom are not on Google+ or Twitter that I'd miss. 

That's exactly it. Because everyone uses Facebook, you have to use Facebook. If my friends and relatives were all tech-savvy coders, I doubt any would be on Facebook. But many take no interest in technology and just want an easy way to communciate. Facebook is the Internet for people who don't care about the Internet.
Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
7/11/2014 | 2:51:20 PM
Re: Wouldn't and prpbably couldn't
I agree, Gary. I also work remotely, which can be isolating at times. You need that water-cooler fix.
Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
7/11/2014 | 2:47:23 PM
Re: Happiness Boost?
Probably a lot more productive things you could be doing, too :-)

I'm guessing that the "happiness boost" is likely related to the drop in "my-life-is-so-great" posts that are prevalent on Facebook. If you stop seeing how (sometimes artificially) happy people are, you stop comparing yourself to them.
User Rank: Ninja
7/11/2014 | 2:45:46 PM
Wouldn't and prpbably couldn't
I work at home, and Facebook is my equivalent of the "water cooler." I'd be very unhappily isolated without it.
Shane M. O'Neill
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
7/11/2014 | 2:26:12 PM
Good idea
Pre-Instagram I would have had trouble dropping Facebook for 99 days. But so much of my social media interaction has moved over to Instagram that I could handle a FB hiatus. And yes I would probably be happier. I may try this.
User Rank: Author
7/11/2014 | 2:21:13 PM
Happiness Boost?
As to whether quitting Facebook makes people happier, I'd argue that if you're doing anything so much that you're isolated and then quit, it's probably going to make you feel better. Does this group want people to just quit FB or do they suggest folk stop using all social media (an impossibility for many of us who have to use it for work)? Unless you're cyberstalking, there are a lot more harmful things you can do with your time than 'like' FB statuses or post cat photos. 
User Rank: Author
7/11/2014 | 2:17:36 PM
Tough Call
I've cut down on Facebook a lot versus a few years ago, but don't want to stop visiting the site -- although I'm sure I could. (Twitter would be tougher to give up for three months!) It's not FB, per se; it's the people with whom I stay in touch primarily through FB, many of whom are not on Google+ or Twitter that I'd miss. If there was another platform that most of these people used, I'd have zero problems switching over since I don't have any product loyalty in this case. 
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