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Why Facebook’s engagement surged after Cambridge Analytica

Why Facebook’s engagement surged after Cambridge Analytica
[Photo: rawpixel]

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the #DeleteFacebook movement got a lot of press. But to date, there’s been scant evidence of users actually closing their accounts. In fact, a new study suggests user engagement on Facebook actually spiked after the scandal broke–but not for reasons Facebook will love; in fact, it was likely because tons of users realized they’d better check their security and privacy settings.

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[Image: courtesy of AppOptix]
According to the study, from AppOptix, Facebook’s daily user engagement rose to 61.4% within a week of the scandal, up from a five-day average of between 56% and 58% over the previous six weeks. That engagement growth was almost certainly not a reflection of normal use of the platform. It was “primarily driven by users’ concerns over the security of their personal data,” AppOptix says. “That is, users reviewing their personal data and/or checking on data security settings.”

It’s worth noting that in the days and weeks after Cambridge Analytica, Facebook made several changes to its platform to make it easier for users to check those settings, and also made it possible for users to see if their data had been accessed by Cambridge Analytica.

However, AppOptix also found that one key Facebook usage metric–average daily minutes of use–has remained constant. “The conclusion,” AppOptix writes, “is that users were not simply removing their data and deleting the app.”

More to the point, while many largely dormant users may have logged in to check their security settings, there wasn’t much short-term decline in usage of the Facebook app. “Consumers shrugged off” the Cambridge Analytica scandal, AppOptix says, “and have maintained their usage patterns.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Fast Company request for comment. We’ll update this post if and when the company comments.


Related: Facebook’s leadership sinks over 20 points in corporate reputation poll

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