Enough is Enough

I just posted my final status update on Facebook…

Dear Friends,

As some of you know, I have been wary about the direction Facebook has been taking for quite a while. Their everchanging and confusing privacy settings, the dubious way they treat your personal information, the sneaky way they phrase things in their terms of service… the list goes on… in short, I have gotten to the point where I simply no longer trust Facebook with my information.  The recent (and soon to be released) changes like the Timeline View and the “frictionless sharing” that Zuckerberg talked about at the recent f8 conference have started to change Facebook into a service that I’m no longer willing to use.  Articles like this one (http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2114059/Your-Facebook-Data-File-Everything-You-Never-Wanted-Anyone-to-Know) make me feel entirely distrustful of the whole thing.

Despite reservations I’ve had about it, I’ve really tried to like Facebook. I’ve enjoyed making and maintaining connections with people here, but Facebook’s cavalier attitude to my personal information makes it impossible for me to continue being a user of the service. While I certainly have nothing to hide, in principle I simply no longer wish to support Facebook and its services.

I have disabled my account over the last few days and have realised that I really don’t need Facebook. Soon after I post this message I will be deleting my account completely. Unfortunately, I realise that even after I delete my account, I still have no real idea about how much of my information Facebook will continue to retain and use. That’s pretty appalling don’t you think?

I still think the basic ideas of social networking online are wonderful, and I’ve been really enjoying what’s going on over at Google+. To me, Google+ feels like a  far more vibrant, interesting (and trustworthy!) place than Facebook. I like the way Google have been upfront and open about what they do with my information. To be clear, it’s not the giving of the information that concerns me at Facebook, it’s the sneaky, convoluted ways that they miscommunicate their intentions about it. I feel like Facebook have crossed the line with my trust.

There are lots of people I’m going to miss being in contact with here on Facebook. But I hope you understand that I just can’t continue to support a service that acts so sneakily, so unethically, and treats me and my information with so little respect.

Chris

It’s a bit of a shame really, as I have a lot of friends on Facebook, but I just can’t do it any more. At the heart of it, I think Facebook is ultimately bad for the future of the open Internet.  It gives the impression of being all warm and fuzzy and connecting you with your friends and family, but the motives of the company are entirely Facebook-centric. Facebook cares only about Facebook.  As I watch it grow bigger and stronger it feels to me like what Germany must have felt like in the mid 1930s.  There was a time when people were great supporters of Adolf Hitler too. We all know how that turned out.

Oh, and take a moment to read that article linked above. Scary!  Seig Heil indeed.

Image: ‘DSC_0076.JPG‘ 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24095119@N06/2324843973

CC BY-SA 4.0 Enough is Enough by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

8 Replies to “Enough is Enough”

  1. I agree. I rarely use Facebook and am trying to get my real “friends” to move to Google+. 

    Facebook doesn’t even want people navigating away from their page to search the internet. They want to own it all by having companies and websites to have a “page” on Facebook. They don’t want you leaving their site for anything. 

    I also find that much of what people post on Facebook is useless drivel or whining. Rarely is there something on there that is good or positive and I really can’t understand how people have so much time to play all those Facebook games. 

    1. Yep, that’s what I mean about being “bad for the open Internet”. The Open Web will be a better place if it’s, well, open. People can go anywhere, competition is encouraged, there is room for lots of different ideas.  The notion of corralling people into a closed service, inside the walled garden, is not a good thing.  It’s like, “stay here, don’t leave, you don’t need to go out there into that big bad internet place… just stay here and you’ll have everything you need. We’ll look after you”.

      Nup. Over it.

  2. Chris – I’d be interested to know if you’ve moved across to another service. G+ perhaps? Or Diaspora which is getting talked about at the moment. Or have you decided not to. In which case, is there a service or app or something else that you’re using instead, in order to keep in touch with friends and colleagues?

    1. Yep, Google+. Mentioned in the second last paragraph.

      Between Google+, Twitter and my blog, that’ll do me I think. (Oh, and LinkedIn and Ping and Foursquare and YouTube and Flickr and, and, and …)

  3. I’m happy to stay with Facebook for now, but am very selective in what I post.

    I completely understand your point of view and can see many people migrating away and making the bold step. Most of my friends are still there so that is where I will stay for now.

    Actually noticed your absence on FB yesterday when I went to message you. Luckily there are soooo many other avenues of which to contact you in that it makes very little difference! Well done for being bold and making the change. See you over on G+, I’ll have to make more of an effort over there 🙂

    1. Hi Rach, Yes, you are certainly one of the people I’ll miss connecting with on Facebook.  But as you say, we still have lots of other ways to stay connected. 

      After getting accustomed to what appears to be a much different level of conversation on Google+ I was really struck by just how inane some of the crap is on Facebook when I logged back in there. People bitching about their football teams and sharing cat videos. Ugh!

      Of course, there is still some good stuff happening there, and that’s what makes this decision so difficult. I like the people I’m connected to on Facebook (obviously, they’re my friends!) but I just can’t keep using a service I feel so negative about.  It really has been a difficult decision to make.

      Maybe if Facebook changes their attitude in the future I’ll come back to it (They certainly have been known to flip on their current decisions!) but for now it’s switched off and I don’t plan to come back to it.

      Give G+ a try, it seems pretty good.  

      PS: What was the message? 🙂

  4. Chris-Hello from Japan.  I attended your workshop when you came to YIS. 

    Recently, for the COETAIL course 2, we looked at the issue of privacy on-line.  I have always wondered about Facebook and privacy, and your blog post helped me answer questions I have.  Sounds like they are really trying to hold on to the information they have about us, and use them to benefit them.   Facebook doesn’t really care about its customers. 

    I am using Facebook because everyone else is using it.  I get caught in the cycle.  “Other people are using it, therefore, I should do it as well.  I don’t want to be behind.” 

    Am I ready to leave Facebook?  ………………….

    One thing for sure, I will introduce my daughter, age 11, to Google+ when she is ready, not Facebook.

    1. Hi Naho!  Thanks for the comment and for keeping in touch.  I really enjoyed my trip to Yokohama and getting to work with the staff at YIS… it was a real highlight for me.

      I do sometimes miss the interactions on Facebook and I’m tempted to sneak back to it, but I’ve resisted so far. Google+ certainly has a slightly different culture and feel to it than Facebook – geekier, techier and definitely smarter – but I do find the conversations there can sometimes be a bit too intense or focused. I do occasionally want to just see a funny video or read an anecdote about someone I know.  I don’t get that as much on G+, but it’s still early days.  I suspect it will mellow over time, and I still think that if I had to choose G+ or FB, then G+ is going to get my vote.

      As I said, my reasons for leaving Facebook were largely philosophical, and I still think that FB is bad for the Internet as a whole.

      Mind you, I think I’d have terrible trouble getting my 16 yo daughter to move from Facebook… it’s the glue that holds her social world together!

That's all well and good, but what do YOU think?