Social media

Many really do quit Facebook - and never return

May 1, 2013 at 8:32 PM ET

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Devin Coldewey / NBC News

Ever thought about quitting Facebook, even just for a week or so? You're not the only one — and some even go through with it. A full third of users polled in a recent study have deactivated their account before, and one in 10 never comes back.

The study, by researchers at Cornell University, found that people do in fact leave Facebook, and for a variety of reasons. Some felt they were using it too much, others don't trust the service's privacy policies; yet others felt compelled to leave, either out of professional obligation or in order to avoid certain awkward situations.

The phenomenon of "Facebook fatigue" isn't new — in February, a Pew study asked users of the social network whether they'd ever taken a break, and why. A surprising 61 percent said they had taken a few weeks off before, although they may not have totally deactivated their account.

Since the Cornell study of 410 people was not limited to active Facebook users, there was a significant proportion of respondents who had never signed up for the service to begin with. It's easy to forget, with its billion-plus users, that Facebook is not something everybody uses.

Those who never opted to try it exhibited "a sense of rebelliousness and pride," as the study's lead author, postdoctoral associate Erick Baumer put it, in a statement describing the study. That's probably to be expected — considering how popular Facebook is, at this point not using it is almost sure to be a conscious rejection rather than just not caring.

A few abstainers haven't prevented Facebook from growing, however. In its quarterly earnings report Wednesday, the company reported that total and daily active users increased by about 25 percent from last year.

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.

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