Facebook started it
We’re used to Facebook infringing on our privacy by now. But when it was revealed that they had manipulated the emotions of 700,000 unsuspecting users, we thought they had gone too far. They did this by showing only positive or negative posts of your friends, to see if your own posts would be happier or sadder as a result.
So we decided to turn the tables on them and start our own social experiment: how would you feel if you quit Facebook for a while?
Quit Facebook for 99 days and track how you feel about it.
99 days is a nice medium between being achievable and significantly long enough to notice a difference. Just follow these five steps:
Step 1. Sign up on the website.
Step 2. Change your profile picture
Step 3. Share your last post, announcing your break
Step 4. Don’t use Facebook for 99 days
Step 5. Fill in the happiness survey
- Delete apps
- Enjoy life
Stay the course and tell your friends.
We gave participants a personalised page with a countdown tracker, which showed them how far they had come. This helped as a psychological barrier to prevent relapse. The link to the countdown would be the last post the participants shared and tell their friends exactly when they would return. The countdown would only start running after the link had been shared. This also helped to recruit their friends.
Time to inform the press.
The press was already up in arms about the social experiments Facebook had tried out. Mostly because it was without the users consent or knowledge. Some were benign: choosing positive stories over negative ones, some were a little less innocent: crashing the app on purpose to see if and when people would quit.
So we threw extra fuel on the fire by directly contacting journalists who had written critically about the Facebook experiments. We knew they would take the bait. Soon, global news outlets (especially American ones) like USA Today, Huffington Post, Time, New York Times, Business Insider and many, many more, started reporting on it.
Off to New York!
Newspapers, websites, radio and TV stations, all wanted to talk to the small agency that was going against a global giant like Facebook.
Our personal favourite was Merijn’s appearance on Fox News with Stuart Varney, as you can see in this clip.
We teamed up with researchers from Cornell University, Leiden University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam to see if the data from the hapiness surveys could provide scientific answers. The research also gave us content to do follow-ups in the press.
By the end of our media blitz, we had reached more than 160 countries across the globe. Coverage included major global newspapers, networks and sites, creating millions of euros in free publicity.
All this free press drove a ton of new people to the site, who recruited other people, resulting in tens of thousands of people experimenting with quitting Facebook.
A total number os 45,435 participants have joined the program to date. 25% never even returned. Curious? The experiment is still running. Sign up and see if quitting Facebook is the thing for you.