Why I quit Facebook and you should too

These recent revelations about Facebook’s increasing violations of privacy were the last straw for me. I no longer want to be any part of it, so I’ve deactivated my account and I’m not going back. I was never a big Facebook user to begin with. I logged in very seldomly, mostly just to find contact details for others from my school. I never bothered uploading any pictures, and the ones that my friends tagged me in frequently proved to be more of a liability than an asset. Basically, I was a member of Facebook not because I enjoyed it, but because I begrudgingly saw the benefits of allowing easy contact with my fellow students. But I’m finished with school now, and the risks far outweigh the benefits.

I don’t want Facebook tracking everything I do and making some of it available without my knowledge. It makes me uncomfortable. I want to be the only one deciding what is put out there about me. I simply don’t trust Facebook to protect my personal information when they actively profit off of sharing that information. This latest news about using personal information in advertising was the last straw for me. I simply don’t want anything more to do with Facebook. I’m taking my ball and going home.

However, I do worry that, by deactivating my account, I’m cutting myself off from some of my friends from UMD. I suppose that’s also part of the insidious nature of Facebook: you become dependent on its proprietary platform for basic things like contacting your friends or sharing photographs, and thus there is significant pressure on not leaving Facebook, even if you are concerned about privacy implications. But I won’t hold myself hostage to that. If anyone from UMD really needs to contact me, they should be able to find me through a simple Google search. Maybe they’ll even find this post.

If you’re one of my friends from UMD trying to contact me, Ben McIlwain, do so either by sending me an instant message on AIM at screen name Cyde2 or sending an email to cydeweys AT gmail DOT com.

13 Responses to “Why I quit Facebook and you should too”

  1. QauNuckShin Says:

    Have you noticed how you can only deactivate your account?

    Your account isn’t deleted. Everything is still there, and all you need to do to “reactivate” it is to log in..

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    Yeah, I did notice that. It’s kind of scary. Maybe setting the email address to something non-mailable and then scrambling your password before deactivating it would have the appropriate effect? Of course, it’s not really deleted; the data is still there somewhere. All it would take is some security hole in one of Facebook’s applications to potentially expose it.

    Yes, being able to actually delete one’s account would be much better.

  3. Andrew S Says:

    Isn’t deactivation is pretty much the same thing with Google as well. Nothing ever gets deleted.

    With regards to Facebook I tried playing with it for a while but the advertising is annoying and it really adds absolutely zero to my life beyond what I already have. I see Facebook as a novelty, nothing more, nothing less, and we will only have to wait for the next novelty to come along and everyone will go pick that up.

  4. Cyde Weys Says:

    The only problem with considering Facebook a novelty is that, in some circumstances, it is not. It is a necessity. I’m thinking about college, but there are other social circles as well that use it as a prime mover. Want to find someone in your classes? Facebook. Want to reach someone? You’re more likely to get through to them by hunting them down on Facebook (and sending PMs or just getting an IM name) than searching the school’s student directory and using their student email address.

    Most party planning has gone onto Facebook too. The people hosting a party set up an events page for it then invite everyone through Facebook. Oftentimes they won’t even bother telling people in real life unless you specifically ask. So yes, Facebook isn’t technically necessary, but it has a huge opportunity cost: you’ll be missing social events, you won’t be able to contact classmates and friends as reliably, etc. I know a fair number of people who don’t use AIM anymore because of Facebook (and just forget email). Want to contact them? You have to use Facebook (unless you know their cell phone number).

    I saw a very enlightening comment on the Slashdot story. The gist was that Facebook is taking a “it’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission” stance on privacy. Note how everything is on an opt-out basis, and each new privacy-infringing feature they add is enabled by default. This latest advertising feed thing is especially insidious because you can only opt out on a site-by-site basis; to really opt out of the whole thing, you need to use a browser plugin. That’s ridiculous. Facebook needs to be burnt severely by one of these opt-out schemes. Only then will they be reined in.

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  8. tim Says:

    i feel sorry or americans because in canada all of the violations facebook does are illegal, they have pushed facebook to stop the “deactivate” crap and actually delete the information.
    facebook put up a fuss saying “well people that leave facebook usually come back (what a laugh) so we keep it for there sake (still laughing).”
    as for selling information they got a warning to stop that too or get shut down.

    this happened in early 2009, can’t blame them though for taking so long to catch on to things like this on the internet. when all the people in government are like 60+

  9. chriszanf Says:

    I was going to suggest using the suicidemachine (http://suicidemachine.org/) but they have a press release on their front page that FB has blocked them permanently because it doesnt want people removing their data.

  10. Facebook member Says:

    I just deactivated my account today and will delete it after a while. Facebook is much ado about nothing.

    It is just used as a trap for people in the middle east to overthrow their regimes and replace it with American overwhelm.

  11. Sid Says:

    I think Facebook is an utter waste of time. Although I don’t have an account, I’ve seen my friends waste tons of hours on it. Most of the games and polls and quizzes are so childish and foolish. And seriously, who cares about what you had for lunch or what you did last evening. I think Facebook is just a platform for people to show their narcissism. And yes, I do think Facebook is a novelty and that it will be obsolete in the next 7-10 years.

  12. AL Says:

    I quit Facebook because it sucks time, I only end up stalking/browsing profiles for hours. I’ve been more productive ever since, but it was difficult at first. I deactivated, only to log in again, then finally deleted. Worth it.

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