As Facebook’s appetite and dependence on user data became increasingly clear during Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony this week, Mission District users interviewed on Thursday said they rarely use the website but remain reluctant to opt out completely.
Recent studies have shown that Facebook’s user base is becoming older, while younger users are abandoning the site for other platforms, such as Snapchat or Instagram.
“The only reason I have a Facebook is because it’s linked to my work account. But I don’t really use it personally; I only use it for work purposes,” said Lucia Leal, a 32-year-old elementary school teacher.
Leal said it didn’t surprise her that user data would be manipulated and used against Americans.
“I have been having this feeling about Facebook for a while. It’s not nothing new, I think it’s been happening for a lot of years. The reason it’s a big deal is because it’s public now,” said Leal who added that she had been censored by the social media site when she tried to post a video about anti-immigrant protests aimed at African migrants in Israel. In the video, children held racist signs. Every time she attempted to share the video, Facebook deleted it, she said.
Adrian Lopez, a 28-year-old barista and service-industry employee, said he has a Facebook page but doesn’t use it. So does 19-year-old Rosa Cruz, who only halfway filled out her page with basic information. She only made the profile, she said, to stay in touch with family.
That need also keeps 32-year-old Kristin Mayer and 26-year-old Olga Szpiro from disconnecting their Facebook accounts.
Both Szpiro and Mayer are wary of the site’s information-gathering and use it only when necessary.
Steven Hopkins, a 33-year-old software engineer, hasn’t deleted his own page — again, because of the ease of communicating with people across the world.
“If I actually wanted to have a private conversation, I wouldn’t do it on Facebook,” he said.
Only one of 13 people interviewed said he had deleted his page, and it cost him the connections he had become accustomed to.
“I missed pictures of family, I missed event invitations that I won’t get an email about,” said 30-year-old Harry Withuhn. “That’s a choice I made.”
The more we feed the beast, he said, the more the American public will depend on it.