Until now, users complaining and closing their Facebook accounts have mainly been private individuals, but could the platform’s recent public rejection by CrossFit spell the beginning of the end for the social media giant?
For the past two decades, the California-based firm CrossFit has hawked an intensive fitness regimen and built a chain of training centers around it, earning the loyalty of millions of customers. CrossFit understood the value of platforms like Facebook and Instagram in targeting its audience, building up a devoted following and keeping them engaged.
Yet, instead of appealing to the blandest possible consensus opinions – the safe, default choice of most image-conscious companies – CrossFit actively infused its social media messages with an actual ideology. Its publications and pronouncements on weightlifting and workouts regularly reference libertarian politics, dovetailing with those of the company’s irreverent president, Greg Glassman.
So it came as no great surprise when CrossFit became one of the few firms to make the break with Facebook, and to do so very publicly. This week, the company announced that it would end its relationship with Facebook and its affiliates, detailing its reasons for doing so in an online anti-Facebook manifesto of sorts, after a CrossFit diet group was temporarily deleted without warning.
When it comes to losing accounts, Facebook, so far, has mostly felt the ire of individuals complaining about things like lax privacy policies, political censorship or negative effects on mental health. Studies have shown that Facebook can contribute to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and depression — and recent research found that the number of Facebook users dropped by a whopping 15 million in the last two years. What’s more, the biggest decrease occurred within the demographic that social media giants try hardest to appeal to — 12 to 34 year-olds.
Dramatically declaring the intention to close one’s social media accounts has become something of a rite of passage for many in recent years. The Twitter hashtag #deletefacebook took off after the Cambridge Analytic scandal which saw the shady firm harvest data from 50 million users without permission — although there has been no mass exodus from which Facebook could not recover. But when a major corporation announces that it’s quitting Facebook for good, it could potentially signal a mass departure will not be long in coming.
Until now, the number of companies electing to leave the platform – whether without much fanfare, or in a huff of CrossFit-style rage – has failed to coalesce into a critical mass. But if CrossFit’s repudiation of Facebook and its practices hasn’t caught on like wildfire yet, the reasons for its rejection are already well-known, and widely shared.
People are getting sick of Facebook’s cozy relationship with both the US government and foreign governments. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has even said acceptable speech online should be defined by “thoughtful governments” and endorsed plans by Australia and France that trend in that direction. They’re also getting sick of Facebook’s security breaches that put their data in danger and an increasing tendency toward censorship of political speech on the platform, while keeping secret its criteria for deciding which content to censor.
Meanwhile, as Facebook increasingly fails to live up to the expectations of the communities that contribute to it, it also fails to contribute, as expected, to the communities where it lives. The firm reportedly pays nearly no taxes on its considerable income.
Facebook’s many failings, which anger so many people for so many different reasons, could convene in the most unfortunate of ways for the company. In due time, we may look back and pinpoint May 2019 as the beginning of the end for Facebook — the month that American companies began a mass exodus, logging out for good.
Like this story? Share it with a friend!