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Free of Facebook: Research shows what kind of people are fleeing the social network

File photo The Facebook logo is displayed on their website an image of a photo taken in Bordeaux, France, Feb. 1, 2017. (REUTERS/Regis Duvignau)

You are likely to flee Facebook? New research shows what kind of people are deactivating their Facebook accounts.

The study comes at a time when Facebook is dealing with the consequences of the Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal and the spread of fake news on the platform.

The research by Eric P. S. Baumer, assistant professor in Lehigh University’s department of computer science and engineering, examines the demographic and socio-economic factors behind Facebook use and non-use.

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“Deactivate, either actual or contemplated, is more common in respondents who are younger, looking for work, or not married,” said the Lehigh University, in a statement.

The study analyzed data collected by Cornell’s Survey Research Institute in 2015 for the Cornell National Social Survey. The research is based on responses from 1,000 AMERICAN households, after a telephone survey of adults (18 years or older.

“The current Facebook use is more common in respondents who: middle-aged (40-60), female, not looking for employment, of Asian descent, or currently married,” the university said in its statement.

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Baumer found eight most important predictors of Facebook use or non-use: age, gender, marital status, whether the respondent was looking for work in the past four weeks, household, income, race, and social ideology and, intriguingly, weight.

“Heavier respondents were less likely to be deemed to deactivate their account and have never had an account,” the university said in its statement. “A lower weight respondents are more inclined only to consider deactivate, while a higher weight of the respondents have more chance to actually be off.”

The research was presented at the 2018 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) conference in Montreal on 25 April 2018. The study was also published in the ACM Digital Library.

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“The analysis helps to explain the ways in which Facebook, and probably all social media, are not representative of the wider population,” said Baumer, in the statement. “Facebook users are more likely to be older, female, higher income, married and ideologically liberal.”

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