July 10, 2014 4:43 pm

Could you give up Facebook for 99 days? Group launches social experiment

By Facebook’s own estimates, its 1.2 billion users spend an average of 17 minutes per day on the site – that adds up to over 28 hours in a 99 day period.

File/99 Days of Freedom

TORONTO – Do you think you could last 99 days without logging into Facebook? If you did do you think you would be happier?

A new campaign called 99 Days of Freedom calls on users to give up Facebook for 90 days and then report back to see if their Facebook vacation made them happier – an obvious jab at the recently unveiled Facebook emotion study.

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READ MORE: Will Facebook lose users over its emotion manipulation study?

Those who take part are encouraged to change their profile pictures to the 99 Days of Freedom logo and share one last link – a countdown clock displaying how many days, hours and minutes the user has till they return to the site.

Participants are required to complete anonymous happiness surveys throughout their Facebook detox. Those anonymous results will be published to the 99 Days of Freedom website to try to prove if those without Facebook are happier.

“Facebook is an incredible platform, we’re all fiercely loyal users and we believe that there’s a lot to love about the service,” said Merijn Straathof, art director of Just, the Dutch ad agency behind the initiative.

“But we also feel that there are obvious emotional benefits to moderation. Our prediction is that the experiment will yield a lot of positive personal experiences and, 99 days from now, we’ll know whether that theory has legs.”

According to the website, the initiative was born out of the agency’s discussion over the Facebook emotion manipulation study which has many users reconsidering their use of the world’s largest social network.

The study, done in collaboration with two U.S. universities, involved manipulating user’s newsfeeds to evaluate how negative and positive posts affected user’s emotions. Some users’ feeds were tweaked to show more positive posts, while others would see their news feed filled with Debbie Downers.

Researchers found that the more positive posts users were exposed to, the happier their status updates were – and vice versa.

Facebook and the researchers involved with the study have since apologized.

READ MORE: Does social media make us feel bad about our lives?

And while some users may see the 99 Days of Freedom campaign as a protest against Facebook’s controversial study, the campaign does aim to answer the question “How do you feel when you don’t use Facebook.”

At time of publication, the site showed over 3,500 people had signed up for the challenge.

But if you aren’t convinced by the challenges rhetoric, perhaps the numbers will persuade you to rethink your Facebook commitment.

By Facebook’s own estimates, its 1.2 billion users spend an average of 17 minutes per day on the site – that adds up to over 28 hours in a 99 day period.

So, perhaps the better question is what would you do with 28 extra hours?

© 2014 Shaw Media

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