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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?

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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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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: Strategist
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.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
7/14/2014 | 4:26:55 PM
Re: Oh, for goodness sakes...
@Joe, cyclical indeed. I joined Facebook in 2004 and since then have only had a handful of friends deactivate their accounts. Most recently, one of them posted a message announcing he was leaving Facebook for good following its latest mod experiment. As much as people complain when it makes changes, etc, a very, very small percentage actually leave. This example of a planned "exodus" isn't the first, and it won't be the last.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
7/14/2014 | 4:19:17 PM
Re: Group love
Just curious -- what personalized online experiences do you prefer to Facebook?
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
7/14/2014 | 4:18:28 PM
Re: Already Did. Not Missing it one bit. More free time to do what I want to do.
That said, I'm probably an atypical user in that all the people on my FB are people I have first ineracted with in real life in some way. 

^^With all the concern about privacy, I hope (and imagine) that most people only friend people they know. I do wonder, though, why people friend people they don't know. What benefits does that have?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
7/14/2014 | 2:49:14 PM
Re: Already Did. Not Missing it one bit. More free time to do what I want to do.
@Angelfuego: I didn't become a "superuser" of FB until 1. they improved the smartphone app and 2. I moved across the country, leaving behind many friends and family. FB became my way of keeping in touch with the people I care about across time zones and miles, and because the mobile app is now workable, I can connect anytime from anywhere.

That said, I'm probably an atypical user in that all the people on my FB are people I have first ineracted with in real life in some way.

If you look at the stats, FB is losing younger users even as it gains traction with folks my age. Hrm...
hho927
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hho927,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/14/2014 | 2:37:20 PM
99 days? I haven't used FB for the last 6 months
LOL

Didn't like FB back then, still don't like it now.
Joe Stanganelli
IW Pick
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/14/2014 | 12:27:06 AM
Re: social networking
It's just all anti-Facebook hullaballoo.  Same ol' same ol'.  This happens every now and then, news-cycle-wise, whenever some privacy issue comes up with Facebook.

Companies like Google, meanwhile, pull far more egregious privacy-infiltrating stunts on their users, but they get away with it as media darlings.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
7/14/2014 | 12:25:09 AM
FB impact on "Happiness"
FWIW, I've found Facebook far less depressing and irritating once I discovered the "unfollow/unsubscribe" feature.  It's fantastic!  No more overinundation with stupid political posts or daily photoshoots of helicopter parents' kids!

Plus, I use "Most Recent" instead of the "Top Stories" filter, so it is unlikely that FB's study impacted me much.

I find Twitter and LinkedIn far more depressing and annoying than FB, actually.  FB is much more manageable in terms of what I see and what I don't have to see (as well as who can and can't see me).
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
7/13/2014 | 6:57:04 PM
Re: I haven't used Facebook for nearly a decade
jastro, 

I don't know what you are taking about. :/ Maybe you have confused me with the person to whom I replied below? He is the one who hasn't used Facebook for a decade. 

-Susan
Page 1 / 5   >   >>
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