Quit Facebook Day flops

Breaking the habit ain't easy

Monday's Quit Facebook Day turned out to be something of a damp squib.

Just 34,100 of Facebook's more than 450 million members pledged to quit over privacy concerns. The low number is probably more a reflection of how hard it is to break the Facebook habit, rather than signifying acceptance of the simplified privacy controls introduced by the social network last week after much criticism, as QuitFacebookDay explains.

"Quitting Facebook isn't easy," the group said. "Facebook is engaging, enjoyable and quite frankly, addictive. Quitting something like Facebook is like quitting smoking. It's hard to stay on the wagon long enough to actually change your habits."

Of course many of those who've recently decided to quit Facebook have done so without making a pledge so the true figure of disaffected former members is difficult to gauge.

Facebook has weathered a series of privacy controversies in its short lifespan of just six years, including disquiet over its Newsfeed feature and Beacon advertising system, the latter of which the site was eventually forced to scrap.

The latest controversy kicked off in December with a privacy roll-back that meant users' profiles become public by default, whatever the previous settings. Plans announced by Facebook in March to share data with "pre-approved" third-party websites threw extra heat onto a simmering row, mainly since it coincided with negative reports by EU privacy officials and campaigns by privacy activists against the earlier changes.

Last week Facebook got rid of the 50 privacy settings and 150 options built into its system last year without really answering the fundamental question of why it wanted users to share material they posted online with the internet at large. The social networking site's seemingly compulsive tinkering with privacy settings also went unexplained.

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerburg claimed during a press conference announcing the simplified privacy settings that what Facebook users shared had no bearing on advertising revenues. He also said recommendations from people asking friends and contacts to join Facebook, something the social metric uses as a key metric in assessing likely growth, remained strong despite recent protests.

In other Facebook news, last weekend became the third successive week to witness a run of hacker attacks. Following earlier attacks themed around "Distracting Beach Babes" and "Sexiest Video Ever" the latest attack falsely promised the "Most Hilarious Video ever". Users who fell for the latest ruse were redirected to a fake login page in an attempt to trick them into handing over their login credentials, AVG reports.

Attempts were also made to target US users and con them into downloading scareware disguised as a video codec needed to view a non-existent clip, Websense adds. ®

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