Our ‘complicated’ relationship with Facebook continues

99 days of freedomAs the ‘Facebook is invading our lives’ saga continues, new backlash campaigns are springing up to react. A Dutch movement called ‘99 Days of Freedom’ is a counter experiment that looks at what the impact could be on our moods if we left the social network altogether.

Already in the last week, 26,015 people have joined in. The campaign encourages users to join the 99 days of freedom experiment, boasting that it only takes a few minutes to join, yet saves the average user 1,683 minutes – which totals up to well over 28 hours of freedom. The non-profit will contact users after 33, 66 and 99 days to monitor users’ moods.

It has been well-documented that younger users of Facebook are beginning to switch off anyway, so the 99 days experiment has the possibility of hitting a raw nerve with many. This backlash comes as Facebook faced criticism earlier in the month after conducting a psychology experiment on nearly 700,000 users without their knowledge. The test saw Facebook “manipulate” news feeds to control which emotional expressions users were exposed to. The research was done in collaboration with two US universities to gauge if “exposure to emotions led people to change their own posting behaviours”.

The challenge has been taken up by 26,015 users, which compared to Facebook’s 1.28 billion user base, it’s nothing too worrying for the social network. Yet the campaign raises an important point in consumer behaviour: it is changing.

Apart from those who took up the challenge to log off for 99 days, there is no reason to believe that anyone left Facebook permanently as a result of its mood experiment. Facebook is still king of social media in user numbers, as people are increasingly more open for data to be used for a better experience. This change in consumers’ behavioural patterns can be seen in everyday life, take supermarkets for example, with loyalty cards systems knowing enough about your daily shop to send you relevant vouchers regularly. Although the information gathered is highly useful to the supermarket, they share this benefit with the consumer to make the overall customer experience more enjoyable and personal.

There is a movement towards consumers and brands working together for a better experience. When looking at it from this perspective, Facebook’s mood experiment is not that shocking after all.

Ben Davies is chief executive and co-founder of Vypr