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To delete or not to delete

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Like a lot of people, Jodi Marvel had been using Facebook a lot less recently, to escape the social media bubble. Then she read about Cambridge Analytica. The political consulting firm allegedly harvested user data through Facebook to influence the 2016 election.

“I was just really shocked and angry,” said the math and economics tutor in Boise, Idaho. So Marvel downloaded all of her posts and pictures and deleted her account.

“I want to send them a message just telling them that this is not acceptable to me,” she said.

Stephan Matanovic, a lawyer in Philadelphia, quit Facebook a month ago after advising his clients to steer clear of it, even though it meant missing out on invitations or local events. He plans to delete Facebook-owned Instagram next.

“Ultimately it came down to, am I going to eat my own dog food, and the answer for me was yes,” he said.

They aren’t alone.

The #deletefacebook hashtag was trending this week, prompting discussions among users about quitting the social media platform.

This sort of campaign has worked before; just look at #deleteuber. But it’s a lot easier to stop using Uber when apps like Lyft or Via do pretty much the same thing. With Facebook and its 2 billion-some users, it might be a little harder.

Some say Facebook is too important for their business or for staying in touch with distant relatives.

Sheryl Katzin, a librarian in D.C., is torn. When Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston last summer, a message she posted on Facebook led to the rescue of her elderly parents.

“And it’s moments like that, where if I could have kissed Mark Zuckerberg, I would have,” she said.

And when you delete Facebook you’re not just deleting your profile, according to Alessandro Acquisti, who studies the economics of privacy at Carnegie Mellon.

“You’re also saying goodbye to all the accumulated value you derive from interacting with other people on the network,” he said.

But Jodi Marvel hopes if enough people join her in leaving Facebook, a viable and more responsible alternative will take its place.

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