Over the last few months Facebook has been scrutinized for the company’s privacy polices (or lack thereof) causing a lot of people to write in great detail how they feel about Facebook’s stance on privacy.  None stand out more than the new article titled “More than half of Facebook users may quit site, poll finds,” written by Sharon Gaudin of Computerworld, posting a new poll that shows that more than half of Facebook users are poised to quit their account.

Now this may not seem like such a concern on a short-term basis but let’s look down the road.  Right now, we understand that there are over 400 million users on Facebook, but there are many websites and even fanpages on Facebook that are calling for users to trash their profile.  For example, QuitFacebookDay.com has over 12,000 users quitting their Facebook profile on Monday May 31st.

Some might say this isn’t a trend worth worrying about because the difference between 12,000 people quitting versus the 400 million current users is tiny, but there is a larger issue here that needs attention.

Social networking sites have become a staple medium used for public relations efforts.  A lot of standard practices in public relations have been adjusted and updated to incorporate social media to better reach the audiences of our clients. If the audiences we are trying to reach don’t trust social networking sites and decide not to use them as a channel of communication and a way to gather news and information about companies, PR professionals need to adjust how we reach the masses without social media.

One option for PR professionals in the short term is to look into other social networking sites that offer the same experience as Facebook but don’t have as many or no privacy policy issues.  According to a CNET article, an “upcoming promising option” is Disapora, “the aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open-source social network.”

If you’d like to read more about Facebook and the controversy surrounding the company’s privacy policies, use Google trends; the provided link shows the soaring curve of people searching on Google of how to quit their Facebook account.

Facebook may not be worried about losing users yet, but to show how serious this issue is getting, go to Google, type in “How do I quit.”  That little suggestion pull-down tab will appear and “How do I quit Facebook” will appear as the top Google search ahead of “How do I quit smoking.”  If this isn’t a telling tale about what might be heading our way when “quitting Facebook” beats out “quitting smoking,” I don’t know what is.