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What Are the Disadvantages of Facebook?

by Naomi Bolton
Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Since its launch in 2004, the social networking service Facebook has grown to over one billion users. While there are numerous advantages to using the service, there are also unfortunately some negative aspects. Apart from being potentially addictive and hampering productivity, the service can make you vulnerable to malware, viruses and even identity theft if you are not careful. Facebook is also known to place a strain on relationships due to how easy it is to connect with people from your past.

Addiction

According to a study conducted by Leif Denti at the University of Gothenburg, spending time on Facebook can become addictive. Participants in the study reported that they felt ill at ease when they were not able to regularly check up on their Facebook account. With other people constantly posting new photos or status updates, people that become addicted to Facebook can feel like they are missing out if they are not constantly logged in. According to the study, these users do not even realize that they are engaged in excessive use of the service, as it becomes an unconscious habit.

Loss of Productivity

Facebook can be a serious threat to the productiveness of both students and employees. Studies by Nucleus Research indicate that an average of 1.5 percent of total office productivity is lost through employees accessing Facebook during working hours. Two-thirds of the participants in the study revealed that they access their Facebook accounts while at work, with 6 percent admitting that their entire Facebook profile was created at work. Studies conducted at Ohio State University indicated that Facebook users studied between one and five hours a week while non-users typically spent 11 hours or more studying. Productivity can suffer due to time wasted on Facebook playing games, chatting to friends or browsing new photos. Many of the games on Facebook require you to check back every few minutes in order to keep playing, which can waste a lot of time.

Malware & Viruses

The large user base and ease with which content is shared on Facebook makes the site an easy target for malware, despite efforts by Facebook to prevent malware and virus infections. When a Facebook account is compromised by a virus or malware, it often automatically posts links and status updates in an attempt to fool other users. If you click on one of these spam links, it can lead to your own account being compromised. Avoid clicking on Facebook links that promise to show shocking content or videos that require you to install an update to view.

Identity Theft

Facebook enables you to share a lot of personal information about yourself, which in some cases can lead to identity theft. Unless you are very careful about the privacy settings on your account and accepting friend requests from strangers, it is possible for your personal information to end up in the wrong hands. Hackers can then use this information to gain access to your other online accounts, or even open up new accounts using your identity. The information that users voluntarily divulge on Facebook is often the same information that is used as common security questions when opening online accounts. Unscrupulous users armed with this information can do a lot of damage both to your reputation and finances.

Antisocial Behavior

Studies by a professor of psychology at California State University indicate that overuse of social networking sites such as Facebook can lead to antisocial behavior. Teens might also become the victims of cyber bullying on Facebook or engage in narcissistic behavior themselves. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, up to 15 percent of teens on social networks have been the target of cyber bullying, while 88 percent have witnessed others being mean. Since Facebook enables users to upload photos of themselves which can then be "liked" by friends, it can cause teens to have self-esteem problems if their photos do not garner as much likes as those of their friends. Users are also more likely to engage in arguments online because they are not face to face with the person.

Relationship Problems

Since Facebook makes it easy to find and connect with people from your past, it can also place a strain on relationships. A survey conducted by a UK divorce website revealed that Facebook is commonly cited as a reason for divorce. Seeing a partner befriending or talking to someone on Facebook with whom she had a previous relationship can cause anxiety and insecurity. People might also turn to Facebook when they are in fights or disagreements with their partners. This can lead to dirty laundry being aired in public through inappropriate comments or status updates posted in anger. Couples that break up can also use Facebook as a platform to get back at their ex-partners, which can jeopardize future relationships. In a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Facebook is cited as the primary source of compromising information that leads to divorce.

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