People Say They’re Deleting Facebook, But Are They Really?



Facebook users, especially young people, say they’re deleting the Facebook app from their phone. But the numbers tell a different story.


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A recent poll shows that a good number of people, especially young people, are joining the #DeleteFacebook app from their phone. But here’s why no one, from Facebook to marketers to grandmothers who just figured out how Facebook works, should be worried.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 26 percent of polled adults said they’d deleted the Facebook app from their phone in the past year. Additionally, 42 percent said they’d taken a weeks-long break from the social media giant.

Young people in particular—18-29-year-olds—were much more likely to have deleted the app, which sounds like a problem for future growth.

And yet Facebook’s daily active user base has been steady at around 185 million for the last four quarters.

This is a good time to remind you that a poll, even one conducted by a prestigious organization like Pew Research, doesn’t always accurately reflect reality.

For one thing, the poll doesn’t check to see if users actually deleted Facebook’s app from their phone. We’re simply taking people’s word for it; Facebook, meanwhile, has hard numbers to back up their data. Pew also might not be able to take into account people they polled who deleted the app, then downloaded it again.

It’s also possible that people are continuing to join Facebook at around the same rate that users might be leaving it.

Finally, keep in mind that people who delete the app from their phone are by no means necessarily not using Facebook. They can still access the site from a desktop, or visit Facebook directly from the browsers on their phone. The site may not run as smoothly on an iPhone or Android device’s browser, but the mobile version is perfectly usable.

Facebook’s slowing user base growth is an issue for the platform, and Mark Zuckerberg’s company has had to make major changes after scandals relating to privacy and Russian influence in the 2016 election shook the public’s faith. But a supposed quarter of users “deleting” the app from their phone is not an outsized problem.

For marketers, the biggest dilemma isn’t that they don’t have enough potential users on Facebook to view their content—it’s getting their content seen above the rest in the wake of the recent algorithm shakeup.

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