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The Crap About That 96% Use Facebook

Written by on June 27, 2011

A few hours ago, my twitter stream started showing links to this article in rapid succession. It came with the fantastical sounding title of "96 Percent of Americans Use Facebook -- and Other Social Media Stats for the C-Suite."

96 percent? ....What the frak?

Here is the thing. According to Facebook, there are a total of 150,498,840 people who live in the United States who are also using Facebook. And according to the CIA World Factbook, there are 313,232,044 people in the United States.

Note: Facebook traffic data from FB's ad planner.

You don't have to be a math wiz to see that something is catastrophically wrong. It kind of reminds you of this Dilbert Cartoon.

It turns out, that the 96% came from an article called "The TRUTH About Facebook: Bank Of America's New Report". So it is the truth? ...then it must be real. I will just switch off my brain and not do any math at all.

In it, you can read the Bank of America apparently asked 418 people under the age of 50. Which they claim to "roughly resemble the U.S. population."

Okay, so forgetting about the laughable small sample size. How many people use Facebook under the age of 50 in the United States? The answer is 123,250,160 people. That is apparently 96% of 313,232,044 people.

Worse of all, *this* is what you are encouraged to tell your CEO and other executives? Really?

I have had it with crappy sites focusing on increasing page views at the expense of actual value. This is not just bad. It is directly misleading. Somebody could lose their jobs if they showed up to a C-suite meeting boasting numbers like these.

Where is the critical thinking? The investigative reporting? The fact checking? Or just the slightest ethical standards?

It has to stop!

About a month ago, Jeff Jarvis did something brilliant at the eG8 summit. The French president had invited the internet world to discuss how the Government should be involved, and Jeff Jarvis stood up and asked Sarkozy to take a Hippocratic oath for the internet, being:

First, do no harm.

So to everyone who is publishing on the internet. Stand up, right now! Put you right arm on your heart, the Bible, the Koran, your head, or wherever you feel is important -- and say this:

I hereby solemnly swear to do no harm to the people of the internet!

Done? Great! Now let us all get back to creating real value.

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Update: Emily Davis got the ball rolling. Let's all RT and see if we can turn this into a trending topic.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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