Quit Facebook Day flops as only 1 in 15,000 pledge to quit

An attempt to stage a mass defection from Facebook today has fizzled. For every Facebook user who pledged to delete their account as part of today’s Quit Facebook Day campaign, there are more than 15,000 other Facebook members who didn’t, using Facebook’s recent estimate of 500 million active accounts.

If Facebook signups were to run at their usual pace today — probably not, based on today’s slow holiday traffic on the Internet — for every user who threatened to quit, there would be four or five new signups. Facebook averages 150,000 new members per day, the company has claimed. Quit Facebook Day signed up only 32,522 pledges, and it’s not likely that all of them actually quit.

Facebook certainly has a public relations problem over its constant tinkering with privacy-related settings for members’ personal content. But several attempts to jump-start a boycott seem to have conspicuously failed.

Who has actually quit? I searched Facebook for Internet fameballs who had recently claimed they would delete their accounts. One problem for these walkaway users is that if they’re Internet-famous enough to have a “public figure” page on Facebook, that page still turns up in a search. It’s probably not clear to average users that they’ve left Facebook.

  • Peter Rojas, gadget blogger: Gone. His account is no longer active. You won’t find it in a search of the site. “Users should have real control over what is shared, that’s all,” Rojas wrote on Twitter. “FB keeps taking that away.”
  • Leo Laporte, personal technology journalist: His account is, according to an assistant, an impostor.
  • Dan Gillmor, journalist who deleted his account over privacy issues in 2009: He never really left. Gillmor deleted his account, but he immediately started another one, being more careful about personal information the second time around.
  • Jason Calacanis, entrepreneur: Personal account gone. His public figure page at facebook.com/jasoncalacanis is still live, but has no updates since May 21 when Calacanis wrote, “I picked a good day to delete my Facebook page.”
  • Matt Cutts, Google anti-cheating expert: Personal account gone. His public figure page is still there, but has no updates since May 14, when Cutts wrote about the upcoming Google I/O technical conference.

TechCrunch claimed in April that Google engineers were leaving “in droves.” Given the high-level business competition between Google and Facebook, it seemed like a trivial protest compared to, say, Apple’s company-wide refusal to admit the existence of Adobe Flash. Besides, exactly how many Google engineers are there in a drove? The Googlers haven’t provided a list.

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