Dropping Facebook

I announced (ironically on Twitter) over the weekend that I killed my Facebook account. I’ve had several e-mails from readers asking me to explain my decision. For me it was not a difficult one. I have never been an active Facebook member. While I have connected with several old friends using Facebook, they were not particularly close friends and none of these contacts have resulted in actually meeting a human being or rebuilding some lost close friendship.

My first annoyance with Facebook is the signal-to-noise ratio. It sucks. While I occasionally discovered what happened to so-and-so, more often I was asked to join in Mafia Wars, Farmville, and other time sinks. I felt like it was tedious to go into Facebook and have to make decisions about agreeing to be friends with people I’ve never met and probably never will. At this level it is mere annoyance. What ultimately led me to cancel my account was my privacy concerns.

There are several people exploring Facebook’s privacy policy, or lack thereof. There were two posts in particular that raised my eyebrows by people I respect, Patrick Rhone and Christopher Breen. Looking into this I discovered that despite their words, Facebook does not respect my privacy. In hindsight, I’m not sure how a company that makes its money by sharing people’s personal information can respect my privacy.

At the end of the day, limited usefulness combined with lost privacy made this a simple equation for me and an easy decision. If an old friend want to find me, it is not that difficult. I’m not advocating that everybody abandon Facebook. I just hope that everybody makes their own intelligent decision and doesn’t blindly surrender their own privacy.

7 Comments Dropping Facebook

  1. teresa.hummel@me.com

    I’m amazed that people keep thinking of facebook as being private. I have always considered anything online – email, facebook, blogs, twitter, to all be public or at least minimally protected information. Therefore I try to treat all of these the same with the same feeling of someone being able to get hold of the information and make it all public.

    Who said – don’t write anything down you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times? (or words to that effect). I think it’s even more true for electronic writing and pictures than it was for hard copy. As long as one treats it that way and gives out only the information you don’t mind having public, that should take care of it.

    However, I do agree about the time sink factor. Even though I have a number of "friends" on FB – I hide all the games, ignore all requests for stuff, and only occasionally post something. Mainly I comment on my friends status posts. Since I can control the time factor, so far it hasn’t been a problem. If it becomes a problem, then I’ll drop it.

    Reply
  2. teresa.hummel@me.com

    I’m amazed that people keep thinking of facebook as being private. I have always considered anything online – email, facebook, blogs, twitter, to all be public or at least minimally protected information. Therefore I try to treat all of these the same with the same feeling of someone being able to get hold of the information and make it all public.

    Who said – don’t write anything down you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times? (or words to that effect). I think it’s even more true for electronic writing and pictures than it was for hard copy. As long as one treats it that way and gives out only the information you don’t mind having public, that should take care of it.

    However, I do agree about the time sink factor. Even though I have a number of "friends" on FB – I hide all the games, ignore all requests for stuff, and only occasionally post something. Mainly I comment on my friends status posts. Since I can control the time factor, so far it hasn’t been a problem. If it becomes a problem, then I’ll drop it.

    Reply
  3. teresa.hummel@me.com

    I’m amazed that people keep thinking of facebook as being private. I have always considered anything online – email, facebook, blogs, twitter, to all be public or at least minimally protected information. Therefore I try to treat all of these the same with the same feeling of someone being able to get hold of the information and make it all public.

    Who said – don’t write anything down you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times? (or words to that effect). I think it’s even more true for electronic writing and pictures than it was for hard copy. As long as one treats it that way and gives out only the information you don’t mind having public, that should take care of it.

    However, I do agree about the time sink factor. Even though I have a number of "friends" on FB – I hide all the games, ignore all requests for stuff, and only occasionally post something. Mainly I comment on my friends status posts. Since I can control the time factor, so far it hasn’t been a problem. If it becomes a problem, then I’ll drop it.

    Reply
  4. teresa.hummel@me.com

    I’m amazed that people keep thinking of facebook as being private. I have always considered anything online – email, facebook, blogs, twitter, to all be public or at least minimally protected information. Therefore I try to treat all of these the same with the same feeling of someone being able to get hold of the information and make it all public.

    Who said – don’t write anything down you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times? (or words to that effect). I think it’s even more true for electronic writing and pictures than it was for hard copy. As long as one treats it that way and gives out only the information you don’t mind having public, that should take care of it.

    However, I do agree about the time sink factor. Even though I have a number of "friends" on FB – I hide all the games, ignore all requests for stuff, and only occasionally post something. Mainly I comment on my friends status posts. Since I can control the time factor, so far it hasn’t been a problem. If it becomes a problem, then I’ll drop it.

    Reply
  5. teresa.hummel@me.com

    I’m amazed that people keep thinking of facebook as being private. I have always considered anything online – email, facebook, blogs, twitter, to all be public or at least minimally protected information. Therefore I try to treat all of these the same with the same feeling of someone being able to get hold of the information and make it all public.

    Who said – don’t write anything down you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times? (or words to that effect). I think it’s even more true for electronic writing and pictures than it was for hard copy. As long as one treats it that way and gives out only the information you don’t mind having public, that should take care of it.

    However, I do agree about the time sink factor. Even though I have a number of "friends" on FB – I hide all the games, ignore all requests for stuff, and only occasionally post something. Mainly I comment on my friends status posts. Since I can control the time factor, so far it hasn’t been a problem. If it becomes a problem, then I’ll drop it.

    Reply
  6. Tommaso

    Hi David,

    I agree with you that the signal-to-noise ratio is very high. That news feed gives you a daily dose of bs from dozens of people! However, you can adjust the settings and say you want to read the feed of only a select group of close friends.
    The same with agreeing to be "friends". I usually accept all friend requests if I have met the people, but being a friend doesn’t give them access to almost anything. To see pictures, comments ecc you have to belong to the select group of "close friends", and that is quite easy to do once you study the privacy settings.

    All in all, I find facebook a useful tool with little privacy issues, once you really take the time to tweak the privacy settings.

    Reply
  7. James

    Interesting. I have recently done the same for the same reasons, I was connecting with people who i have known in the past with whom i have nothing in common and no intentions to meet up with in person.

    my feed was full of Farmville nonsense, and flying sheep.

    I get much more mileage out of Twitter and Linked In.

    Reply

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