Almost 60 percent of social media users responding to a recent survey said it would not be hard to stop using Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and the other major social media sites, while only 14 percent of social media users were able to admit that they would find it “very hard” to abandon social media. But other answers in the same survey show the majority may not be telling the truth. Other research has shown that even in anonymous surveys human nature is such that respondents give answers that they believe will make the questioner think better of them. They answer according to what they think they should think, rather than give an accurate answer. (Full disclosure: I had a hard time admitting how much time I actually spend watching television when Nielsen sent me a survey this week, because I didn’t want to sound dumb.)
The same social media survey, conducted in January of this year, by the Pew Research Center, found that just over two-thirds of US adults (68 percent) are Facebook users and most are highly dedicated to the site. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of people with a Facebook profile say they visit the site daily and half say they do so on multiple occasions every day. It seems likely that none of those individuals would find it easy to let go of Facebook. After all, how else will they find out what their cousin in Alaska or that guy who sat next to them in freshman algebra is up to?
Facebook Still Rules
Facebook, with around two billion users and 65 million business pages, remains the place to be on social media. Whether those numbers will slip following the revelations about how Cambridge Analytica used personal data obtained from the site and Mark Zuckerberg’s prolonged grilling on Capitol Hill remains to be seen. Certainly some high profile individuals such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak have joined the “#deletefacebook” movement, but whether it has any real traction seems somewhat doubtful. People just like it too much.
Average User is on Three Platforms
And although virtually everyone uses Facebook, the typical social media user has a presence on at least two other major social media platforms, with YouTube, used by nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults and 94 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, being the second biggest player. Not surprisingly younger users, who were born into the digital age, show the most social media activity—four platforms for 18- to 29-year-olds and only one for those 65 and older, probably Facebook. Some 88 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds admit that they use some type form of social media. Usage falls to 78 percent among those ages 30 to 49, to 64 percent among those ages 50 to 64 and to 37 percent among Americans 65 and older.
Returning to my original premise that when people say they’d have no problem giving up social media that they are not being honest, consider that when Pew asked the same question four years earlier 28 percent said they would have a hard time giving up social media, including 11 percent who said it would be “very hard,” vs. 40 percent who admit they’d have a hard time letting go now.
Fake News Erodes Trust
And speaking of people not being honest in surveys, since the shenanigans surrounding the 2016 election you’d have to be totally offline to not know about “fake news.” Just three percent of social media users indicate that they trust what they read on these sites. That’s considerably lower than the level of trust accorded to local and national and local media outlets—17 percent and 18 percent, respectively. I’m just not sure if I believe what the survey says.