Large-Scale Study: What Happens If You Don’t Log In To Facebook For A Few Weeks

Disconnecting from social media, even for a short time, reduces users’ willingness to believe fake news and political participation, according to the largest study ever conducted on the subject.

Before the 2020 US presidential election, more than 35,000 randomly selected Facebook and Instagram users agreed to participate in an experiment. Of those, 27% were paid to deactivate their accounts for six weeks, while the rest left for just one week, it noted. El Pies.

The paper published in PNAS is the result of an effort by more than 30 American university professors and meta-researchers, and is part of a macro-study published last summer that, among other things, shows that conservative users consume more fake news on Facebook.

Two main conclusions can be drawn from the current study, says Stanford University professor Matthew Jentzko, one of the paper’s authors.

“First, discontinuing Facebook and Instagram use in the late stages of an election had little or no effect on political views, negative views of opposing parties, or beliefs about claims of election fraud. Second, discontinuing Facebook use affects people’s knowledge and beliefs.

Those who quit Facebook performed worse on news tests, but were less likely to believe widespread misinformation, suggesting that it is an important conduit for real and fake news,” explains Zentskov.

“Previous research has shown that most people’s exposure to misinformation is very low, so I was very surprised to see this effect, which was large enough to be partially detectable,” he adds.

Although it was conducted on a sample ten times larger than previous trials, the study has the same flaw.

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“This can only be tested on people in a society that normally uses Facebook and Instagram. When we talk about the Facebook effect, we’re thinking about what society would be like without Facebook, comparing it to how it is with Facebook, not how people who don’t use the network are compared to people who do,” he said. explains David Garcia, professor at the University of Konstanz, Germany.

However, the experiment clarified the difference between Facebook and Instagram in terms of the effects of disconnection, which was less so in the case of the influencer-focused network.

“Apart from reduced online participation, we found no significant impact of disabling Instagram on any primary outcome. This is also true among younger users, and despite Instagram’s rapid growth, Facebook remains the platform with the largest impact on political outcomes,” the article states.

The time away from Facebook has made people aware of misinformation

Another finding was that users who quit Facebook for six weeks were more wary of the political information they saw on Facebook, which was also the case on Instagram.

“One possible explanation is that time spent away from a platform made users more aware of the low quality or amount of misinformation they were exposed to,” the authors explain.

Although political participation (especially online) decreased in the group disconnected from Facebook, the intention to vote remained the same and did not manifest itself in fewer voters at the polls.

Deactivating Instagram and Facebook accounts had no effect on polarization, electoral legitimacy, or candidate preference, and found no conclusive data suggesting the site helped former US President Donald Trump.

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Facebook invited 10.6 million users to participate in the study, and 637,388 clicked on the invitation. Of those, only 19,857 completed the trial, which included follow-up studies. Participants who deactivated their account for six weeks received $150. On Instagram, Meta invited 2.6 million users and received 15,585 participants.


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