Days after news dropped that Facebook data was once again used for a shady electioneering plot, people are turning to Google. Their ask? How to delete their profiles.
Searches for “delete Facebook” spiked this week, when information about Cambridge Analytica’s data harvesting scheme hit the mainstream. New information from Google Trends, which tracks how popular a given search is relative to other moments in time, shows that, in the United States, there are more searches for “delete Facebook” now than any other time in the past five years.
Google Trends shows how popular a search is, but it doesn’t tell you how many searches there are for a given keyword or phrase. But Google AdWords, which helps businesses buy ad placement in Google Search, gets more specific. In February, there were between 100,000 and 1 million searches for “delete Facebook” in the United States, according to AdWords. That doesn’t include similar terms like “how to delete Facebook account,” which also averaged 100,000 to 1 million searches last month.
Deleting one’s Facebook account is a multi-step process hidden behind a Settings page, which explains why people search for this information.
AdWords data only dates back to 2014, and the numbers for each of those two phrases do drop if you look at the past four years. But they’re still pretty big: the monthly average for each is 10,000 to 100,000 searches in the United States.
In other words, a lot of people Google for this information all the time, but a particularly large number started searching after the Cambridge Analytica news broke. That doesn’t paint a pretty picture for Facebook, which is already having trouble hooking users. In fact, at the end of 2017, it actually lost daily users in the United States and Canada for the first time ever.
The company’s stock price has tumbled in recent days, which some worry could augur “another dot-com bubble bust.”
This post has been updated with additional context.