Digital uprising? Searches to delete Facebook double following Cambridge Analytica scandal

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Web searches to delete Facebook rocketed in March as the UK was among a number of countries to lead a ‘digital uprising’ against the social media giant, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data breach.

According to a new global study of 255 locations across 17 countries by Virtual Private Network (VPN) comparison site Top10VPN.com, search queries to leave Facebook from UK users jumped 101% in March compared to the average of previous months. Just shy of 1.1 million UK users have been identified by Facebook as being impacted by the sizeable data breach which came to light in the middle of March.

On a regional level, Londoners gave the biggest indication that they were planning to remove themselves from Facebook with searches for the term ‘delete Facebook account’ and closely related terms jumping by 139% – followed by Brighton (129%), Bristol (111%) and Sheffield (93%).  

  • Web searches to delete Facebook more than doubled in March following the high-profile Cambridge Analytica breach that likely impacted over a million Brits
  • Cities like London (139%), Brighton (129%), Bristol (111%) and Sheffield (93%) in particular saw searches go through the roof in March, compared to previous months
  • New global study shows the UK was among the top four countries leading this ‘digital uprising’ – with Canada (175%), the US (132%) and New Zealand (103%) also seeing huge jumps

Globally, UK users were among a number of countries looking to reject the social media giant – coming behind Canada (175%), United States (132%) and New Zealand (103%) in searching for how to delete their Facebook accounts. Australia (95%), Netherlands (61%), India (50%) and Germany (47%) also saw a leap in the search term surge.

The following table shows the 10 UK cities with the biggest jump in searches to delete Facebook in March 2018 and the preceding months – a full table can be found below.

UK city

Avg monthly searches

March ‘18 searches

% Change

London

16,027

38,370

139%

Brighton

516

1,180

129%

Bristol

1,508

3,180

111%

Sunderland

406

790

95%

Sheffield

1,381

2,670

93%

Cardiff

786

1,480

88%

Coventry

1,004

1,700

69%

Leicester

819

1,350

65%

Belfast

1,241

2,010

62%

Newcastle

932

1,500

61%

UK TOTAL

 

 

101%

 

Says Simon Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN.com:

 “The Cambridge Analytica data breach has confirmed the long-held suspicions of many social media users that their personal data is being used for various means without their explicit consent.

“The backlash against what many would consider an egregious use of powers was immediate – with thousands of users in impacted countries swiftly looking to distance themselves from data-hungry sites like Facebook. The rocketing of search terms like ‘delete Facebook account’ is evidence of a digital uprising of sorts against what has become the accepted norm in the last decade.

“Certain UK cities were especially quick to distance themselves – the largest surges in search terms notably centred on cities often known for innovation, such as Brighton, Bristol and London.

“For users wishing to dial down their presence online without ‘going nuclear’ and completely deleting their social media accounts, there are ways to do so. Turn off location finding settings that track your activity, remove any personal information – even if it seems like it’s only visible to you – and be wary of using Facebook to log into third parties.

“For an added layer of privacy, you might want to consider a VPN – which stops Internet Service Providers amassing a hoard of personal information on you.”  

 A full table of the top 20 largest cities in the UK by population rank using the search term ‘delete Facebook account’ and closely related search terms

UK region

Avg monthly searches

March ‘18 searches

% Change

London

16,027

38,370

139%

Brighton

516

1,180

129%

Bristol

1,508

3,180

111%

Sunderland

406

790

95%

Sheffield

1,381

2,670

93%

Cardiff

786

1,480

88%

Coventry

1,004

1,700

69%

Leicester

819

1,350

65%

Belfast

1,241

2,010

62%

Newcastle

932

1,500

61%

Liverpool

2,046

3,110

52%

Glasgow

2,220

3,370

52%

Manchester

1,932

2,930

52%

Leeds

2,035

3,030

49%

Hull

762

1,100

44%

Birmingham

3,023

4,330

43%

Nottingham

924

1,310

42%

Stoke-on-Trent

626

820

31%

Bradford

991

1,260

27%

UK TOTAL

118,792

239,240

101%

Methodology: 

Top10VPN.com tracked and analysed Google search queries related to “delete Facebook account” and closely-related terms in a global study of 255 locations across 17 countries over a period of 12 months. It calculated the percentage change in these web searches in March 2018 compared to the average monthly searches in the 12 months prior. The regional breakdown features the top 20 UK cities by population

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