Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ll have heard all about the drama surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, and the resulting fervor. A growing number of people are calling for a mass exodus of Facebook, using the hashtag #DeleteFacebook.
But should you really delete Facebook?
Facebook has grown into a behemoth of a social network that includes almost everyone you know. It’s how family, friends, and work colleagues stay in touch. It’s how families communicate and friendships flourish. Facebook is a core part of our society, and shows no sign of disappearing anytime soon.
So should you delete Facebook in protest? In this article, we’ll explore seven reasons not to delete Facebook. Because it turns out it’s insanely useful.
The Cambridge Analytica Scandal
The Cambridge Analytica scandal is a bit of a mess. A Cambridge University researcher created a personality quiz app for Facebook. Hundreds of thousands of people took the quiz, and because of the way Facebook worked at the time, millions of their friends also had their data collected.
The researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, then sold this data to Cambridge Analytica, a company specializing in data mining. Cambridge Analytica then sold that data, allowing political parties to target people during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Facebook has since tightened the rules on how apps collect data on users and their friends, but the damage has already been done. And people are outraged, leading to some deleting their Facebook accounts.
— Elaine Edwards (@ElaineEdwardsIT) March 24, 2018
The outcry isn’t just about the Cambridge Analytica situation. It’s a symptom of public angst surrounding nonstop news that our social networks are spying on us. Which led one of our writers to recommend you stop using Facebook.
Should you #DeleteFacebook? I don’t think so.
With the Cambridge Analytica scandal behind us, we all have access to a long list of Facebook settings that let you set your Facebook privacy to a high level.
The disadvantages of deleting your Facebook account are far more numerous than the advantages. So, let’s explore the reasons why you should ignore the calls to delete Facebook.
1. Facebook Helps You Stay in Touch
The reality is that Facebook is one of the main reasons families are more in touch now than ever before.
This is especially true for adults who grew up in a world without the internet and without social media. According to the Pew Research Institute, a quarter of all adults surveyed reported that they feel the internet and cellphones contribute to closer family relationships than they had when they were growing up.
Many families frequently use both Facebook and Messenger to stay in regular contact.
It wasn’t too long ago when an occasional phone call was the only way to keep in touch with distant family and friends. Today, thanks to Facebook, contact and updates are so frequent that it’s like we still live next door to one another.
These close family relationships would never be possible if it weren’t for you keeping and updating your Facebook profile. Your family and friends depend on it to feel like they’re still close to you, no matter how far away you may be.
It may be true that teenagers are mostly giving up Facebook and going to Instagram and Snapchat, but according to Statistica, 16-24 year olds are only 19.8 percent of internet users. A whopping 61 percent of internet users are over 35 and they love keeping in touch with family and friends through Facebook.
2. You Can Land a Job on Facebook
Losing a job is really difficult. Finding yourself tossed into the whole job-search game unexpectedly can feel overwhelming. It’s true that LinkedIn is helpful for finding jobs, but Facebook is an invaluable resource as well.
I recently lost an online job, and turned immediately to my trusted Facebook friends for tips and advice on any job leads. I also updated my LinkedIn profile.
The response on Facebook was immediate. I had three friends immediately reach out with job openings they had come across in the course of their work with specific clients.
This is much more likely to happen if you have a lot of friends on Facebook who work in the same industry or business that you do (which most people do).
But in a lot of ways, it’s also more likely to happen on Facebook because so many people there care a lot more about you than the people you’re loosely connected to on LinkedIn.
There are also lots of job listings on Facebook you can browse through.
3. Facebook (Can) Support Your Mental Health
You’ve probably read countless articles and blog posts claiming that Facebook is terrible for your mental health.
Would you be surprised to learn that several early studies actually showed Facebook reduces stress and improves self-esteem? It’s true.
One study conducted by MIT and the University of Milan recorded the physiology of 30 healthy student volunteers during exposure to three types of experiences:
- A relaxing slideshow of natural panoramas
- The volunteer’s Facebook account
- A set of stressful mathematical tasks
Researchers discovered that using Facebook resulted in “high positive valence and high arousal”.
In the summary of the report, the researchers concluded:
“These findings support the hypothesis that the successful spread of SNSs might be associated with a specific positive affective state experienced by users when they use their SNSs account.”
Not only does using Facebook help you reduce stress, but it also improves your self-esteem.
A Cornell University study placed 63 students in the University Social Medial Lab and provided them with different experiences. The computer they were seated at either:
- Displayed their Facebook profiles
- The computer was turned off
- A mirror was propped over the computer screen
The volunteers seated at a computer with their Facebook profile were allowed to explore their own profiles.
After a few minutes, all volunteers were given self-esteem questionnaire. Researchers found that overall the Facebook users reported more positive self-feedback. Those who had edited their profile had the highest self-esteem.
Many recent studies reported other positive effects of using Facebook:
- Researchers at Cornell and University of Wisconsin found that Facebook satisfies “users’ need for self-worth and self-integrity,” especially after experiencing a “blow to the ego,” like a failed relationship.
- Researchers at the Knowledge Media Research Center found that users generally have more positive emotions than negative ones when they browse Facebook.
- University of San Diego researchers found that people who use Facebook (moderately) live longer than those who don’t. Specific activities like posting pictures and accepting friend requests have the closest ties to lower mortality risk.
- University of Exeter researchers discovered that use of social media by the elderly improved their mental health and sense of well-being.
This isn’t to say that all use of Facebook has positive effects. Other studies have shown that just passively using Facebook and never interacting with people can contribute to a decline in mental health.
The bottom line is, if social media is used moderately and used to actively interact with other people you care about, the effects can be positive—and may even help you live longer.
4. Facebook Supports Your Love Life
One of the hardest parts about maintaining strong relationships these days is how busy everyone seems to be. This is especially true when you’re in a long-term relationship while trying to maintain a career, school, or other things that demand your time.
Facebook lets you keep the spark alive in your relationship. It lets you chat instantly during your lunch break, plan meals together before heading home, and keep in close contact whenever you’re on a business trip.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why a platform that helps you to communicate more with your significant other will boost that relationship.
Technology is a great way to improve your relationship, and Facebook is just another tool in that toolbox.
5. Be Informed More Quickly on Facebook
Ever since Facebook became so widely used, I’ve personally noticed how often I hear about breaking news on Facebook first.
Whether it’s a social crisis, a weather disaster, or a celebrity death, you’re far more likely to discover the news during your next Facebook check.
In 2017, the Pew Research Center reported that two-thirds of Americans get their news from social media sources, and Facebook is the leading source of them all.
This is a remarkable social shift, and yet another reason why keeping your Facebook account active is good. In a nutshell it’s a great way to keep up with breaking news and staying informed.
6. Facebook Helps You Feel Supported
Whenever you’re going through a tragedy or other difficult time in life, sharing your experience with others is a powerful form of therapy.
However, for some people, either the isolation of a disability or living in a remote location makes attending such support groups difficult, if not impossible.
A significant population of support groups has formed on Facebook over the years.
On Facebook, you can find large groups filled with people dealing with every stage of life and every issue that life might throw at you. There are groups for depression, grieving, divorce, attending college, getting married, and much more.
This goes back to Facebook being a positive influence on mental health, but only if used wisely. Actively interacting with other people, especially when you’re all dealing with common struggles or experiences, will help you feel supported.
7. Facebook Can Make You Feel Loved
I’ve seen even the most passive Facebook users come to life whenever their birthday rolls around.
If there’s any social network that does birthdays well, it’s Facebook. The social network automatically sends all of your friends a reminder on your birthday. This leads to a total onslaught of well wishes and congratulatory messages from everyone you know.
Sometimes your birthday is the only day of the year that you hear from friends you haven’t heard from all year.
It’s a tremendous experience to have so many people from your present and past recognize you in a single day. It makes you feel appreciated and loved.
It’s often a day when you find yourself clicking on those old friends’ profiles and browsing through their family photographs and daily posts. You have these friends in your life for a reason, and Facebook is often a reminder that they’re important to you.
It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
It’s true that some uses of Facebook—debating about sensitive subjects or passively using social media—are not good for you. But there are many more ways that Facebook adds enormous value to your daily life, and that’s why you should ignore the #deletefacebook movement, and just carry on using Facebook as often as you want.
With that said, it’s always important to make sure your Facebook privacy settings are set properly. So do that. Now. And then get back to enjoying Facebook for the reasons outlined above.