- Report suggests Facebook recently lost active users in the U.S and UK
- The majority of people quitting the site blamed concerns over privacy
- Other reasons included fear of addiction, and shallow conversations
Facebook users are quitting the social network in droves due to privacy concerns and fear of internet addiction, according to new research.
Increasing numbers are taking part in what's been dubbed 'virtual identity suicide' and deleting their accounts.
Analysis of more than 600 people, by researchers from the University of Vienna, found that data protection issues and social pressure to add friends were also among the reasons for leaving.
Others quoted shallow conversations, general dissatisfaction and loss of interest in the site.
Facebook users are quitting the social network in droves due to privacy concerns and fear of internet addiction, according to research from Vienna University. Analysis of more than 600 people found that data protection issues and social pressure to add friends were also among the reasons for leaving
REASONS FOR QUITTING FACEBOOK
Privacy concerns: 48.3 per cent
General dissatisfaction: 13.5 per cent
Shallow conversations: 12.6 per cent
Fear of becoming addicted: 6 per cent
More than half of residents in Canada, UK, Ireland, U.S, Australia and New Zealand use Facebook.
Ireland has the most with 63 per cent, followed by Australia on 61 per cent.
New Zealand has 58 per cent of people on the social network site, while the UK has 55 per cent and the U.S has 47 per cent.
Facebook in Ireland has 2.25 million monthly users. A third of Irish Facebook users want less photos and more status updates and get annoyed by images of their friends' children.
Two in five Irish adults admitted to lying on Facebook.
Source: Statcounters/Eircom B&A Survey 2013
Earlier this year, reports suggested that Facebook lost nine million active monthly users in the U.S and two million in Britain.
These figures originated from research carried out by SocialBakers in April.
The figures come straight from Facebook's API, but is not the same as Facebook losing user numbers, for example.
Monthly active users are the number of people who log into their account over a 30-day period.
SocialBakers saw a drop in this figure prior to the report in April.
However, only because a person doesn't log on for 30 days does not mean they have left the site entirely - which is where the distinction lies.
That said, psychologist Stefan Stieger from the university recorded each of the 600 participants' responses to assessment measures based on their level of concern over various issues.
Those who stopped using social media were more concerned about privacy, had higher addiction scores and tended to be more conscientious.
Professor Stieger said: 'It could be possible that personality traits influence the likelihood of quitting one's Facebook account indirectly via privacy concerns and Internet addiction.
'In this case, the concern about one's privacy and Internet addiction propensity would not be directly in charge for quitting one's Facebook account, but would function as mediators of the underlying personality traits.
Quitters were older, on average, and more likely to be male. Reasons for quitting Facebook were mainly privacy concerns at 48.3 per cent, general dissatisfaction at 13.5 per cent, negative aspects of online friends, 12.6 per cent, and fear of getting addicted at 6 per cent
Compared to the sample of those who continued to use Facebook, the quitters were older, on average, and more likely to be male.
Reasons for quitting Facebook were mainly privacy concerns (48.3 per cent), followed by a general dissatisfaction (13.5 per cent), negative aspects of online friends (12.6 per cent) and the feeling of getting addicted (6.0 per cent).
Brenda Wiederhold, editor of the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking which published the findings, said: 'Given high profile stories such as WikiLeaks and the recent NSA surveillance reports, individual citizens are becoming increasingly more wary of cyber-related privacy concerns.
'With photo tags, profiling, and internet dependency issues, research such as Professor Stieger's is very timely.'
'BREAKING UP WITH A WEBSITE SHOULD BE EASIER THAN BREAKING UP WITH A HUMAN BEING - BUT FACEBOOK PUTS UP AN IMPRESSIVE FIGHT'
According to journalist Sarah Kessler from FastCompany, leaving Facebook can be a long-winded and difficult process.
After struggling to find the Delete Account option, which she eventually found by searching Google, she was met with photos of a selection of her Facebook friends with an automated message about how much they'd miss her if she left.
She was then asked to tell Facebook the reasons why she was leaving, which she said was due to privacy concerns, before Facebook tried to persuade her to stay by explaining more about how the site handles private data.
Facebook warned her that by deleting her account she'd lose all of her photos and posts, before trying to convince her to stay by telling her she could deactivate her account for as long as she liked, and then just login to reactivate.
By deactivating, everything on her profile would stay where it is but would become hidden in case she wanted to return to the site.
'Facebook's hard sell did not stop me from deactivating my account. But three days later, when I wanted to get in touch with an old friend, I reactivated my account like an ex-girlfriend who can't quite commit to a breakup--just as Facebook had designed,' said Kessler.
Kessler claims that Facebook uses four persuasion techniques to make people stay and these include making it complicated, giving people the option to take a break rather than delete it completely, tapping in to personal friendships and connections and trying to solve any problems the user has.