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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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PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
7/13/2014 | 6:40:03 PM
social networking

This is an interesting article. I can see some would benefit from this however I think you would need to say social networking sites in general. If someone took this pledge but then spent their time on twitter aren't they defeating the purpose of the study?

Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
7/13/2014 | 6:17:27 PM
Re: Already Did. Not Missing it one bit. More free time to do what I want to do.
@Faceoffthebooks, I agree. I think some people use Facebook to try to boost their self-esteem and get validation from their "friends." I wonder if Facebook will eventually lose it's popularity. You would figure by now, the novelty would have worn away by now.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
7/13/2014 | 6:07:31 PM
Re: I haven't used Facebook for nearly a decade
@Sara, Three of my former colleagues gave up Facebook for Lent. 2 of them returned to Facebook after Lent and the other one did not. At first, it was hard for her to fast from Facebook, but after awhile she didn't miss it.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
7/13/2014 | 6:04:58 PM
Re: Already Did. Not Missing it one bit. More free time to do what I want to do.
@Cody, I think some people have taken Facebook as a platform to be self-indulgent and contributes to the "It's all about me generation." I think some people use it as a forum to brag, post selfies, to live vicariously through others, and to be nosey. On the other hand, some people use it to keep in contact with people from afar instead of calling them, emailing them, or seeing them in person. Other people use it for advertisement, employment, and charitable purposes. I personally don't have any use or desire for Facebook and never had. I guess using Facebook makes some people happy. If that is what makes them happy, then who am I to complain? Whatever floats your boat.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
7/13/2014 | 3:57:03 PM
Re: I haven't used Facebook for nearly a decade
I've never had a Facebook page, nor do I ever intend on getting one.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
7/13/2014 | 3:29:30 PM
Re: I haven't used Facebook for nearly a decade
I always think Facebook is AOL 2.0, or Prodigy 3.0 -- it's all been done before, in one way or another. FB made it work on the WWW, so it worked better
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
7/13/2014 | 3:28:17 PM
Re: I haven't used Facebook for nearly a decade
@susan -- you are a hero!
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/13/2014 | 8:27:24 AM
Oh, for goodness sakes...
This whole thing is cyclical.  Every so often, Facebook does something that makes everybody mad privacy-wise, and then there's all this talk of people quitting.

But they don't.  They won't.

Especially when no one is really innovating anything truly new and value-adding in the social media realm.

I wrote about this here about three years ago.  Not much has changed since then.  (And Tumblr has been so wildly mismanaged at this point perhaps the poor dear should be put out of its misery.)

(Give the link a minute to load; it's an archive.)
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
7/13/2014 | 5:25:53 AM
Re: I haven't used Facebook for nearly a decade
charunnera, 

I found your story fascinating, and interesting the fact that you closed your account the minute Facebook started to ask for personal information.

Weren't you able to use the service at the time unless you provided your date of birth? I am just thinking that at that point maybe what they were trying to do was no avoid underaged signing up for a Facebook account as a way to protect themselves.

What is your main reason today for not having the desire to use FB? 

-Susan  
charunnera
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charunnera,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/13/2014 | 2:40:21 AM
I haven't used Facebook for nearly a decade
I joined Facebook back in 2004 when its use was restricted to a handful of Universities.  I've never considered it to be anything spectacular, but merely an example of a large, distributed relational database.  I signed up only because most students at my University had signed up which made it very easy to see WHO was in your lectures, labs, etc. for the purposes of coordinating group projects, exam preparation, etc.


Eventually, Facebook opened itself to anyone with a *.edu e-mail (all students) and to the general public as it is today.


At one point (I think it was around 2005) they started insisting that all users provide their date of birth to use the service... I wasn't going to provide that personal information so I kept ignoring their nag screens.  Eventually it got to the point where I was being nagged everytime I clicked on a link, menu, etc.  At that point, I closed my account and never looked back.  Since most of the people on FB I knew in real life, it was no great loss -- they simply continued to interact with me via e-mail, text messaging, my website, etc.

Today, I have no desire to use FB.  I hear about it in the news from time to time, but it is generally always with regards to privacy violations, government spying, or unethical practices on the part of FB.
<<   <   Page 3 / 5   >   >>
Social is a Business Imperative
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