Facebook has been hit with just about every imaginable scandal and controversy over the past years.
These range from accusations that the social media behemoth allowed political interference in the US elections, to improper handling of user data, security-wise – all the way to many people waking up to the dangers of the company’s privacy-undermining business model of data collection and monetization.
Some of these issues are more relevant than others, depending on the part of the world Facebook users come from. A new Belgian study states that the number of active users in this European country went down by 7.3 percent from February to August this year, across all demographic groups, and now stands at 6.8 million.
The Brussels Times writes about this citing consultant Xavier Degraux’s findings, based on advertising data.
According to this, Facebook had the highest number of users in Belgium in early 2018 with 7.5 million active accounts.
The report makes a connection between the declining figures and the revealing of one of those Facebook scandals: the Cambridge Analytica case, which revolves around the collection of personal data from millions of Facebook users, that the website said had the purpose of sending “targeted publications on Brexit and on Donald Trump.”
Whether political reasons such as Brexit and Trump are why Belgians are turning their back on Facebook – or if their motivation might simply be to protect their personal data and privacy – remains open to interpretations, and unclear from the study.
The website’s interpretation is that “the speed with which ‘fake news’ spread on Facebook is probably why.” In general, trust in social media seems to be low among Belgians – standing at only 20 percent at this time.
But Facebook seems to be doing well in obfuscating its brand among ordinary users. According to the study, Belgians are showing a tendency to leave the “mothership” – only to be increasingly turning to using other platforms owned Facebook, such as WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram.
Lastly, Degraux explained, despite a failure to innovate and some new services and features falling flat, Facebook’s business is still booming.
It’s that business based on exploiting user data for advertising purposes – and the consultant said that the giant continues to boast rising sales, as it “attracts massive investments by advertisers, who achieve excellent results.”
It was recently reported that the same pattern is happening in the UK.