Facebook: Less Popular Than Paying Taxes?

By Jennifer Janviere
Facebook icon with red slashI’ll admit it: the headline “Everyone Uses Facebook and Everyone Hates It” instantly grabbed my attention. With 500 million users worldwide, could the popular social networking site really be so loathed?

Apparently so, according to the article on Gawker.com and the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which compiles public opinions about government and privately held companies each year. In a customer satisfaction survey released this July, the ACSI gave Facebook a score of 64 out of 100 points, landing it in the bottom 5% of privately owned companies. This makes the social networking site about as popular as airline customer service and the IRS E-filing system. In the category of social media, only the dwindling MySpace fared worse on the overall consumer satisfaction scale.

Among complaints about Facebook were privacy issues and an ever-changing user interface. Add to this a growing concern by users over the ominously worded new terms of service released by the site this year. Statements that the site can use personal content for any purposes it deems (even if the user closes the account) and for an indefinite time period have sparked a flurry of protests and media attention, resulting in a public relations headache for the site and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

Which begs the question: if Facebook is so unpopular, why do millions continue to use it?

Many people seem to have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. Detractors argue that it promotes artificial connectedness and pseudo-friendships in place of the real thing, yet many remain tethered to the site. Businesses complain that it wastes time and productivity in the office, but most know the importance of having a Facebook presence.

For better or worse, having a Facebook profile is practically a prerequisite to life in the digital age. To disconnect from Facebook is to risk disconnecting from friends, colleagues, social activities and even potential job opportunities.

So it seems that for now, even the disgruntled users claiming dissatisfaction will probably continue to hold a Facebook presence, at least until the next major trend in social networking emerges.

For users concerned about privacy issues and protection of personal information on Facebook, there are a few great resources available. Consumer Reports includes a great list of what to avoid posting on Facebook and Computer Weekly.com offers all purpose tips on safeguarding information online that are well worth reading.

Jennifer Janviere is a multimedia specialist and instructor in the Diederich College of Communication.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University or the Diederich College of Communication.

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