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A Foolish Take: Could Americans Quit Using Social Media?

By Leo Sun – Apr 9, 2018 at 3:00PM

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Most Americans think "it would not be hard to give up social media."

Facebook's (META 5.37%) recent revelation that 87 million of its users' data was accessed by data firm Cambridge Analytica stunned the public, caused advertisers to pull their ads, and sparked a Federal Trade Commission probe.

In the aftermath, #DeleteFacebook gained traction on Twitter as a trending hashtag. But is it really possible to quit Facebook and other social media platforms? According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 59% of U.S. social media users surveyed between Jan. 3 to 10 (before the Cambridge Analytica scandal) stated that "it would not be hard" to quit social media.

Chart showing percentages of U.S. social media users by age and whether they think its hard to give up social media

Data source: Pew Research Center. Chart by author.

Pew's survey indicates that younger users are more attached to social networks, and that older users could more easily abandon them. But the gap isn't as wide as conventional wisdom suggests.

Meanwhile, Facebook's troubles might merely push its users toward other social platforms like Instagram, which Facebook also owns; Snap's Snapchat; Twitter; or YouTube. So some users will probably leave Facebook, but it's doubtful that they'll completely abandon all social networks.

Leo Sun has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook and TWTR. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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