I’ve written about this before: every year when it’s time for New Year’s resolutions, there’s a spike in google searches for ‘quit smoking’, but an even bigger spike in searches for ‘delete facebook’.
Over the year 2020, search volume for ‘delete facebook’ rose a number of times. It seems likely that this has something to do with controversies over how Facebook handled the spread of misinformation about corona and about the American election, and tweets posted by Trump.
The largest rise in search volume for ‘delete facebook’ was in 2018, when the Cambridge Analytica story broke.
Do ‘delete facebook’ searches have an impact on the number of Facebook users? The chart below shows how fast the number of ‘monthly users’ of Facebook grows.
Growth has slowed down a bit since the second half of 2017, but picked up again in 2020 as a result of the lockdowns. It appears that ‘delete facebook’ searches don’t have much impact on the total number of Facebook users. Rather, they should be seen as a symptom of controversies. These controversies in turn may have an impact on Facebook (and other tech firms), if they result in stricter regulation.
I’ve updated the Google trends data on 10 January.