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Independent audit finds Facebook activity has fallen by 20% since Cambridge Analytica

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The "business analytics" firm Mixpanel has released its figures estimating the total usage of Facebook (liking, sharing and posting) since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke; they showed usage falling off 10% in the first month following from the news of the scandal, and continuing to fall, with overall usage down by 20% since April 2018. Mixpanel's figures roughly coincide with Emarketer's stats, which have daily usage-minutes falling from 41 minutes/day/user in 2017 to 38 now. Facebook's own figures are much rosier: the company claims increases in daily and monthly active users over the same period. Facebook's figures are not subject to independent scrutiny. Facebook previously engaged in widespread, systemic, long-term usage-statistics fraud. It's possible to reconcile the gap between Facebook's picture of increased usage and independent auditors' claims of a decline: it may be that people still feel like the must use Facebook to coordinate with other Facebook users (they are unable to overcome the collective action problem of convincing their friends to leave Facebook all at once and shift their discussions of their little league games, family reunions and rare diseases somewhere else), but they no longer use it to "share" with friends, only to perform the utility functions that they must use the service for. Sadly, it's likely that users who do leave Facebook will take their business to Instagram (a Facebook subsidiary); not least because Facebook has used the dirtiest of dirty tricks to crush rivals like Snapchat, depriving their users of an escape to a superior service. Read the rest

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