Prompted by the current brouhaha in relation to Facebook and user privacy, we decided earlier this week to find out what 859 South African Facebook users have to say. Here are some snippets:

Only 27% feel neutral towards, or not at all worried about the fact that Facebook stores users’ personal information and tracks their movements including their online activities. This means that 73% do feel worried about their privacy.

  • Given that 85% of economically active South Africans use Facebook, it’s feels odd that 73% of them worry about the invasion of their privacy, yet continue to use the platform. But, it’s worth pointing out that 35% of them claim to be using Facebook less often now that they did in the past and only 13% claim to be using it more often. (This is a similar trend to claimed readership of printed magazines over the past 5 years.)
  • The #deletefacebook campaign has not worked. 64% have either never heard of it or know hardly anything about it.
  • Undoubtedly Facebook is experiencing difficulties right now. But as long as Facebook is a free service it seems that users will continue with it even if their privacy is being compromised.

The fact that 35% claim to be using Facebook less often is very worrying for Facebook. Are users getting bored with it or is it that the brand is becoming toxic? Either way, changes need to be made to make sure that Facebook doesn’t lose its seat on the social media throne.

The current flurry of anxiety around Facebook security and the allegations of censorship by Facebook most likely have little or nothing to do with the decline in usage of the platform, but they are not helping the cause of a brand under duress.

Next week we will publish a full report about Facebook in South Africa. If you are interested in this report (Cost: R1950 excluding VAT), contact Megan (