Nearly 3,000 users accepted and completed detailed questionnaires, asking questions about their daily activities, political opinions and general state of mind.

Half of the users were randomly assigned to disabling their Facebook accounts for a month, in exchange for a payment. The price of this payment itself was of great interest to researchers: how much is a month worth of access to photos, comments, Facebook groups, friends and news feeds? The study reveals an average of about $ 100, which is consistent with previous analyzes.

During the month of abstinence, the research team, made up of Sarah Eichmeyer and Luca Braghieri of Stanford, regularly consulted the Facebook accounts of the study's subjects to ensure that those who had agreed to stay had not reactivated their subjects. (Only about 1% did it.)

Subjects also received regular SMS messages to assess their mood. This type of real-time monitoring would provide a more accurate psychological assessment than, for example, a given questionnaire a few hours or days later.

Some participants said that they had not appreciated the benefits of the platform before closing it. "What has missed me, is my relationship with people, of course, but also the broadcast of events on Facebook Live, the particular policy, when you know that you are watching with people interested in the same thing, "said Connie Graves, 56, a specialist in home health. help in Texas, and a topic of study. "And I realized that I also liked having a place where I could get all the information I wanted, boom-boom-boom, right there."

She and her abstinent companions all had access to Facebook Messenger throughout the study. Messenger is a different product and the research team has decided to allow it because it has similarities with other person-to-person media services.

At the end of the month, resigners and control subjects again filled out in-depth surveys assessing changes in their state of mind, political awareness and partisan passion, as well as the ebb and flow of their activities. daily, online and off, since the experience. has begun.