Until about a month ago, shoppers on Dell’s website looking for a new laptop could log in using their Facebook credentials to avoid creating a new username and password. That option is now gone.

Dell isn’t alone. Other big brands, including Best BuyFord Motor, Pottery Barn, Nike, Patagonia, Match and Amazon’s video-streaming service Twitch have removed the ability to sign on with Facebook. It’s a marked departure from just a few years ago, when the Facebook login was plastered all over the internet, often alongside buttons that let you sign in with GoogleTwitter or LinkedIn.

Jen Felch, Dell’s chief digital and chief information officer, said people stopped using social logins, for reasons that include concerns over security, privacy and data-sharing.

“We really just looked at how many people were choosing to use their social media identity to sign in, and that just has shifted over time,” Felch said. “One thing that we see across the industry is more and more security risks or account takeovers, whether that’s Instagram or Facebook or whatever it might be, and I just think we’re observing people making a decision to isolate that social media account versus having other connections to it.”

The disappearing login is the latest sign of Facebook’s diminishing influence on the internet following more than a decade of spectacular growth. In the past year, the company’s business has been beset by Apple’s iOS privacy change, which made it harder to target ads, a deteriorating economy, competition from short-video service TikTok, and reputational damage after a whistleblower leaked documents showing Facebook knew of the harm caused by many of its products.

Revenue in the third quarter is expected to drop for a second straight period. Late last year, Facebook changed its name to Meta, reflecting an effort to move the company away from social media and toward a futuristic metaverse, where people work, play and learn in a virtual world. And in a nod to the shift in consumer behavior, Meta said in July that VR users will be able to access headsets without their Facebook credentials.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

Representatives from Ford, Patagonia and Twitch declined to comment on why they removed the Facebook button, while Best Buy, Pottery Barn, Nike and Match didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Rakesh Soni, CEO of digital identity management firm LoginRadius, said many companies once viewed social logins as an easy-to-use method for consumers to securely access their sites without having to set up dozens of usernames and passwords.

It was supposed to be a win-win-win — for online businesses, the major internet companies and advertisers.

Websites could capitalize on social media’s rising popularity and lower the chances that prospective customers would get annoyed and bail before completing a transaction. Facebook and Google would benefit from all the data they would gather about where users were spending their time and the types of stuff they were buying. Advertisers could promote their products more efficiently with better targeting.

‘Breach of their personal space’

That love triangle appears to be crumbling. Soni said websites are now seeing less value in the relationship, in large part because consumers have been losing trust in Facebook.

In 2018, it was revealed that the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica harvested the personal information of 87 million Facebook profiles and used that data to target ads in the 2016 presidential campaign. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Facebook users were inundated with misinformation about masks and vaccines. And in the documents released last year by ex-employee Frances Haugen, consumers learned that Facebook knows of the damages its products cause but in many cases doesn’t try to rectify them.

Facebook “is a really personal space where people share their birthdays and family pictures,” Soni said. “People started feeling like it’s a breach of their personal space.”

Stephanie Liu, a marketing analyst at Forrester, said she’s increasingly talking to companies, particularly retailers in the consumer packaged goods industry, that are “calling me up saying we want to break up with Facebook.” Google’s login tool is stickier, because “it’s a lot harder to break up with Gmail,” she said.

Dell still supports Google’s social login because it’s the “only one that has enough volume,” Felch said.

According to a 2022 report from LoginRadius, Google was the most preferred social login among North American consumers, based on an analysis of more than 1,000 websites and apps. Some 38.9% of users preferred the Google login, representing an increase of nearly 1.5 percentage points from 2019. Meanwhile, the percentage of users saying they prefer Facebook fell by more than 5 points during that stretch to 38.7%.

Liu said part of the change in Facebook’s appeal was brought about by its own doing. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company “clamped down on how much user data they’re willing to share with their partners,” Liu said. That means brands have less use for the login tool because they “are getting less information on your users and who they are and how to reach them outside of Facebook,” she added.