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Are you ready to leave social media? Let us know.

Millions of Americans say they regularly use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Social media is a double-edged sword that keeps us connected to loved ones while threatening our individual privacy. How do you feel about the role it plays in your life? Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa via AP

As social media becomes more integrated into our lives, we learn more about the ways the platforms we use may pose a threat to our privacy, culture, and even democracy. 

At a congressional hearing earlier this month, former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen told lawmakers, that Facebook knowingly allows the spread of misinformation and content that harms children on its platform in order to prioritize its own growth.

“Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy. The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people,” Haugen said while also calling on lawmakers to pass stricter regulations.

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The recent news called to mind earlier scandals involving the company, like when Cambridge Analytica used data improperly obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to sway elections.

Haugen’s testimony made recent headlines, but the idea that social media has negative consequences in our lives isn’t a novel one to most Americans. Sixty-four percent of Americans say “social media [has] a mostly negative effect on the way things are going in the country today,” according to a Pew Research Center.

In recent years we’ve seen social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and now TikTok come to dominate all aspects of life from how we connect with loved ones to how entrepreneurs run their businesses.

At the congressional hearing earlier this month, both Democrat and Republican lawmakers expressed a need to enforce more regulations on Facebook. This has been difficult to do in the past as social media companies have successfully blocked reforms. 

“There are lobbyists around every single corner of this building that have been hired by the tech industry,” Klobuchar said. “Facebook and the other tech companies are throwing a bunch of money around this town and people are listening to them.”

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On an individual level, social media has become so ubiquitous in our lives that it can be hard to quit. Earlier this month when Facebook and its services suffered an hours-long outage, millions across the globe were left in the dark.

A majority of Americans — 69%, according to the Pew Research Center — use Facebook, and even more, 81%, use YouTube. For people under the age of 30, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are among the most popular sites. 

Given the testimony and leaked documents from the Facebook whistleblower and the overall privacy concerns that come with all social media platforms, are you rethinking your relationship with these sites?

Are you among the millions of Americans who regularly use social media or have you found yourself significantly pulling back in recent years? For some of us, it’d be difficult to cut it out of our lives completely because of work or family obligations. Regardless of how you feel about the role social media plays in your life, we want to know your thoughts. 

Tell us what role social media plays in your life by filling out the survey below or e-mailing us at [email protected] and we may feature your response in a future article.

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