Why Facebook Users are Committing 'Virtual Identity Suicide?'

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By Sachin Trivedi | September 20, 2013 5:46 PM EST

Facebook users are deleting their accounts citing privacy concerns. The act to erase any virtual footprints on the net has been dubbed as "virtual identity suicide."

A report published by The New Zealand Herald cites privacy concerns as the reason for deleting Facebook accounts. Recent news reports of government snooping, exposed by Edward Snowden, and similar stories may have prompted the deletions.

The report is based on an Austrian study which collected the information from more than 600 Facebook users. Half of the users had deactivated their accounts whereas the other half remained active.

The study admits, however, that the underlying cause of the deletion could be because of a personality trait which influenced their decision. The concerns of online privacy and fears of internet addiction may have been "mediators" for their decision to delete their accounts.

There have been reports about children especially teenagers being bullied on social media, including Facebook. Many have had to delete their account or have been forced to delete their account by their parents.

The online bullying has even led to suicides by some of the children, as they were not able to cope with the constant barrage of online ridicule and torment. A post showing the child in bad light has the potential of going viral and all the children in the victims' school and neighbourhood could come to know about it.

Facebook could also face legal trouble for the online bullying. Prosecutors from Novara, Italy are reportedly considering filing a legal complaint against Facebook for not doing enough to check online bullying.

Recently an Italian teenager Carolina Picchio committed suicide due to the constant "insults" she received from her ex-boyfriend. She was subjected to a lot of torment by peers on social media after a video emerged in which she looked drunk and disoriented at a party.

She also reportedly got more than 2,600 vulgar messages from the messaging service "WhatsApp." A spokesman for Facebook has reportedly said that the company was deeply saddened about the tragic incident. The company has a special page to address concerns about bullying.

A recent report by PewResearchCenter suggests that although there could be "waning enthusiasm" towards Facebook, as suggested by some media stories, the number of Facebook users have not gone down significantly.

According to the report, the incidents of account deletion by some teens does not represent a trend. But there has been marked reduction in the excitement which was there initially. The loss of excitement was reportedly admitted by Facebook. The company looks at it as perhaps a new direction, as it strives to become a "utility" rather that a "cool" platform.

The CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg reportedly compared Facebook to electricity which may not be cool today, but people still use it.

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