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Dutch Agency Promotes ’99 Days of Freedom’ in Response to Facebook Mood Experiment

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The Netherlands’ Just (part of the Dutch Digital Agencies network) recently made global news because of a non-profit initiative called “99 Days of Freedom” designed to encourage everyone to avoid Facebook for that long.

Why would creatives do something so drastic?

It’s not such a big deal, really: all you have to do to join the experiment is throw up a “99 Days …” logo as your profile photo and refrain from liking, sharing, commenting, trolling, or even using the site to check up on your ex’s family for a little over three months.

So…who’s in?

In case you live under a Wi-Fi-free rock, the Facebook emotion study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science got a lot of press for being manipulative and possibly involving thousands of minors.

The backlash prompted the aforementioned Dutch ad agency to get involved. Unsurprisingly, the story has resulted in more coverage than commitment. Marjan Straatof, the agency’s art director, explains how the idea came about:

Like a lot of Facebook users, many of us were bothered by reports of secret mood experiments. As we discussed it internally, we noted an interesting tendency: To a person, everyone had at least a “complicated” relationship with Facebook.

Whether it was being tagged in unflattering photos, getting into arguments with other users or simply regretting time lost through excessive use, there was a surprising degree of negative sentiment. Then someone joked, ‘I guess that the real question is, “How do you feel when you don’t use Facebook?’” There was group laughter, followed by, “Wait a second. That’s a really good question!”

Do we now have a good answer?

So far more than 18,000 people have promised to put that freedom into practice. But are they happier? Do they feel any different, emotionally speaking?

We have no way of knowing, do we? Time for another under-the-radar study, Facebook…

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