Significant shares of Facebook users have taken steps in the past year to reframe their relationship with the social media platform.
Just over half of Facebook users ages 18 and older (54%) say they have adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Around four-in-ten (42%) say they have taken a break from checking the platform for a period of several weeks or more, while around a quarter (26%) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their cellphone. All told, some 74% of Facebook users say they have taken at least one of these three actions in the past year.
The findings come from a survey of U.S. adults conducted May 29-June 11, following revelations that the former consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had collected data on tens of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge.
Related: Many Facebook users don’t understand how the site’s news feed works
Facebook has separately faced scrutiny from conservative lawmakers and pundits over allegations that it suppresses conservative voices. The Center found that the vast majority of Republicans think that social platforms in general censor political speech they find objectionable. Despite these concerns, the poll found that nearly identical shares of Democrats and Republicans (including political independents who lean toward either party) use Facebook. Republicans are no more likely than Democrats to have taken a break from Facebook or deleted the app from their phone in the past year.
There are, however, age differences in the share of Facebook users who have recently taken some of these actions. Most notably, 44% of younger users (those ages 18 to 29) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their phone in the past year, nearly four times the share of users ages 65 and older (12%) who have done so. Similarly, older users are much less likely to say they have adjusted their Facebook privacy settings in the past 12 months: Only a third of Facebook users 65 and older have done this, compared with 64% of younger users. In earlier research, Pew Research Center has found that a larger share of younger than older adults use Facebook. Still, similar shares of older and younger users have taken a break from Facebook for a period of several weeks or more.
In the wake of the revelations about Cambridge Analytica, Facebook updated its privacy settings to make it easier for users to download the data the site had collected about them. The new survey finds that around one-in-ten Facebook users (9%) have downloaded the personal data about them available on Facebook. But despite their relatively small size as a share of the Facebook population, these users are highly privacy-conscious. Roughly half of the users who have downloaded their personal data from Facebook (47%) have deleted the app from their cellphone, while 79% have elected to adjust their privacy settings.
Note: See full topline results and methodology here (PDF).
ReligionPolitics & PolicyInternational AffairsImmigration & MigrationRace & EthnicityAge & GenerationsGender & LGBTQFamily & RelationshipsEconomy & WorkScienceInternet & TechnologyNews Habits & MediaMethodological ResearchOther TopicsPolitical IssuesU.S. Elections & VotersElection 2020Election 2018Election 2016Election 2014Election 2012Election 2010Election 2008Elections Before 2008Voters & VotingVoter DemographicsVoter ParticipationElection System & Voting ProcessElection NewsWorld ElectionsPolitical Parties & PolarizationPolitical TypologyPolitical DiscoursePolitical & Civic EngagementPolitics & MediaPolitical Ideals & SystemsDemocracyAuthoritarianismCapitalismSocialismCommunismPopulismNationalismPresidential ApprovalDonald TrumpAngela MerkelNarendra ModiVladimir PutinMore LeadersBill ClintonGeorge W. BushBarack ObamaGovernmentTrust in GovernmentSupreme CourtCongressFederal GovernmentMilitary & VeteransNon-U.S. GovernmentsState & Local GovernmentReligion & GovernmentProtests & UprisingsParty IdentificationPolitical AnimosityLeadersDemographics & PoliticsGenerations, Age & PoliticsGender & PoliticsEducation & PoliticsIssue PrioritiesAbortionDeath PenaltyDefense & National SecurityTerrorismWar & International ConflictNuclear WeaponsMilitary & VeteransDiscrimination & PrejudiceDrug PolicyFree Speech & PressGun PolicyHealth PolicyHealth CareMigration IssuesLGBTQ AcceptanceNational ConditionsPrivacy RightsCriminal JusticeDisasters & AccidentsReligion & GovernmentSocial Security & MedicareWorld LeadersWorld ElectionsGlobal Image of CountriesU.S. Global ImageChina Global ImageOrganizations, Alliances & TreatiesEuropean UnionBilateral RelationsInternational IssuesEnvironment & ClimateGlobal Economy & TradeInternational TerrorismNuclear WeaponsInternational TechnologyImmigration AttitudesImmigration IssuesIntegration & IdentityImmigration & Language AdoptionCitizenshipFamily ReunificationLegal ImmigrationRefugees & Asylum SeekersImmigration & EconomyHigh-Skilled ImmigrationVisas & EmploymentRemittancesRacial Bias & DiscriminationSegregationRace RelationsRacial & Ethnic IdentityRacial & Ethnic ShiftsRacial IntermarriageRace, Ethnicity & PoliticsRacial & Ethnic GroupsBlack AmericansAsian AmericansHispanics/LatinosHispanic/Latino DemographicsHispanics/Latinos & LanguageHispanics/Latinos & EducationHispanics/Latinos & IncomeHispanic/Latino IdentityHispanic/Latino VotersWhitesMore Racial & Ethnic GroupsReligious Identity & AffiliationBeliefs & PracticesInterreligious RelationsReligion & Social ValuesReligion & AbortionBiotechReligion & Death PenaltyReligion & LGBTQ AcceptanceReligious Freedom & RestrictionsNon-Religion & SecularismReligious Leaders & InstitutionsReligion & GovernmentReligion & PoliticsInternational Religious Freedom & RestrictionsReligious DemographicsGlobal Religious DemographicsReligion & ScienceKnowledge & EducationReligionsChristianityCatholicismOrthodox ChristianityProtestantismEvangelicalismPentecostalismMainline ProtestantismHistorically Black ProtestantismMormonismJudaismIslamMuslim AmericansMuslims Around the WorldBuddhismHinduismOther ReligionsReligiously UnaffiliatedComparison of ReligionsGenerationsGeneration ZMillennialsGeneration XBaby BoomersSilent GenerationGreatest GenerationComparison of GenerationsAgeTeens & YouthOlder Adults & AgingComparison of Age GroupsGender & PoliticsEconomics, Work & GenderGender Pay GapGender & LeadershipEducation & GenderGender RolesMotherhood & FatherhoodGender Equality & DiscriminationSexual Misconduct & HarassmentLGBTQ Attitudes & ExperiencesGender IdentitySame-Sex MarriageHousehold Structure & Family RolesFamily CaregivingMarriage & DivorceDivorceIntermarriageSame-Sex MarriageUnmarried AdultsParenthoodFertilityRomance & DatingFriendshipsEconomic ConditionsIncome, Wealth & PovertyBusiness & WorkplaceEconomic PolicyEconomic SystemsPersonal FinancesIncome & WagesEconomic InequalityPovertyWealthHomeownership & RentingMiddle ClassFuture of WorkEmployee BenefitsUnemploymentGender & WorkGig & Sharing EconomiesGovernment Spending & the DeficitGlobal TradeRemittancesStudent LoansRetirementBirth Rate & FertilityGenderTrust in ScienceScience News & InformationSTEM Education & WorkforceReligion & ScienceScience Funding & PolicyScience IssuesScience KnowledgeGene EditingClimate, Energy & EnvironmentFood ScienceHuman EnhancementMedicine & HealthSpaceVaccinesEnergyTechnology AdoptionDigital DivideTechnology Policy IssuesPolitics OnlineDigital News LandscapeLifestyle & Relationships OnlineEducation & Learning OnlineHealthcare OnlineOnline Privacy & SecurityNet NeutralityOnline Harassment & BullyingMisinformation OnlineTech CompaniesOnline ActivismCivic Activities OnlineOnline DatingSocial Relations & TechStresses & Distraction OnlineUser DemographicsTeens & TechChildren & TechOlder Adults & TechRacial & Ethnic Groups OnlineRural Residents & TechGender & TechEmerging TechnologyFuture of the Internet (Project)Artificial IntelligenceAlgorithmsAutomationBotsGig & Sharing EconomiesInternet of ThingsPlatforms & ServicesInternet ConnectivitySocial MediaMobileEntertainmentMore Platforms & ServicesFacebookTwitter (X)SmartphonesAppsTextingVideoGamingMusicOnline SearchE-CommerceEmailBlogsE-ReadingMedia & SocietyNews Media TrendsPolitics & MediaMedia AttitudesMisinformationFreedom of the PressNews KnowledgeMedia IndustryNews Platforms & SourcesDigital News LandscapeLocal NewsNews CoverageNews Content AnalysisMedia PolarizationElection NewsPresidents & PressTrust, Facts & DemocracyTrust in MediaFacts & Fact CheckingBots & MisinformationAmerican News Pathways 2020 ProjectState of the News Media (Project)TelevisionNewspapersAudio, Radio & PodcastsNews Audience DemographicsSocial Media & the NewsData ScienceDemographic ResearchAmerican Trends PanelInternational Survey MethodsSurvey MethodsTelephone SurveysNonprobability SurveysVoter FilesEducationLibrariesPersonal LifePublic KnowledgeOccupational GroupsMilitary & VeteransPoliceJournalistsHappiness & Life SatisfactionTime UseLifestyleDeath & DyingK-12Higher EducationStudent LoansElection 2004Election 2006Election 2002Unauthorized ImmigrationImmigration TrendsCOVID-19 & PoliticsAtheism & AgnosticismJoe BidenImmigrant PopulationsBorder Security & EnforcementTechnology & ImmigrationGender & ReligionYounger AdultsTaxesAge, Generations & TechBroadbandMedia Layoffs & EmploymentReligious Knowledge & EducationEducational AttainmentInternational Political ValuesOnline Random Sample SurveysScientists' ViewsJournalistsPoliceWar & International ConflictGlobal Tech & CybersecurityRace, Ethnicity & PoliticsReligious ExtremismU.S. Religious DemographicsCOVID-19 & ScienceReligious TypologyReligious CommitmentPope FrancisPope Benedict XVIPope John Paul IIGlobal HealthRecessions & RecoveriesGovernment Spending & the DeficitUnemploymentReligion & BioethicsYouTubeHuman RightsGlobal Balance of PowerReligion & PoliticsCoronavirus (COVID-19)CyberattacksOnline SurveysU.S. CensusEducation & Learning OnlineLeisureCOVID-19 & the EconomyCOVID-19 in the NewsSurvey BasicsResearch ExplainersEvolutionSize & Demographic Characteristics of Religious GroupsReligious Characteristics of Demographic GroupsNATOUnited Nations
Andrew Perrin is a former research analyst focusing on internet and technology at Pew Research Center.