Facebook has forever changed the way Internet users interact with one another. Though only 10 years old, the infamous social network has revolutionized the way friends and family stay in touch, while also introducing an innovative way for brands to bond with their customer base. But, as the site continues to draw scrutiny about its questionable practices, long-term loyalty may be waning.Earlier this month, Facebook users learned that the company was purposely manipulating news feed content in order to study mood changes and emotion. (Personally, I'd like to think this experiment never happened. Instead, researchers published their "findings" to stir the public so they could gauge reactions to such an invasion of privacy. Therein lie the true results and the ultimate focus. But that's just my theory.) Ever since, users have been up in arms, with many threatening to quit the social network over violations in data usage and privacy.
For one Dutch creative agency, however, these manipulative mind games inspired its employees to launch an international campaign that encourages other users to willingly forgo Facebook for 99 days. Located in the Netherlands, Just created the "99 Days of Freedom" initiative after hypothesizing what life might be like without the social network. Thus, the idea to quit cold turkey was born.
To join the campaign, Facebook users need only change their profile picture (using the image above) and create their own personalized countdown clock via the official site. Once they've alerted their friends of this decision, participants must then rid themselves of the temptation to visit Facebook entirely--delete mobile applications, log out, and enjoy life (as Just's site insists). Of course, the team doesn't expect users to go it alone, as they've created message boards and forums for participants who wish to voice their frustrations or share their experiences. Just also plans to conduct happiness surveys at 33, 66, and 99 days in order to gauge each participants experience throughout the experiment.
Ultimately, the team expects to see primarily positive results, particularly because this commitment will free up hours of time for each participant. Typically, the average Facebook user spends 17 minutes each day perusing the site, thereby adding up to more than 28 hours in 99 days. (That's right, 28 HOURS!) The Just team acknowledges the overall benefits of Facebook's platform, but this experiment will likely confirm the importance of moderation.
But what does this mean for the future of Facebook? While it's unlikely that the social networking site will fade into oblivion anytime soon, this isn't the first group to propose cutting back, and users seem increasingly eager to follow suit. (Upon posting, nearly 20,000 people have already made the "99 Days of Freedom" pledge.) Yet, while users are reducing their daily Facebook intake, marketers are flocking to this popular platform and other similar networks to bring their social strategy to fruition. Might these companies be too late to the party, or will consumers still welcome brand engagement with open arms?
Could you personally, dear reader, commit to this pledge? If so, what would you do with all that extra time? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!