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Friday, April 23, 2010

Why I Gave Up Facebook

I don't know how many of you know -or care, really -about the new privacy changes Facebook has made (again), but you should. Link 1, Link 2 and Link 3.

The Rant

For those of you who don't want to read the links, I'll sum it up briefly: the new changes mean that if you "Like" (instead of "Become a Fan" of) pages and certain links, advertisers can store your information. Forever. Additionally, anything you "Like" that your friends "Like" or that they tag you in is also open to advertisers. Forever. Even if you set your privacy meter to "schizophrenic paranoia" like I have and make it so that your friends can't link to any of your personal information, it can still get out there. Pictures, notes, comments -advertisers now have essentially unlimited access to everything.

I have a problem with that. I realize that yes, it's the information age and there really is no privacy (Googling my name yields several hundred thousand results, most of them associated with my writing, blogging, past spelling bee shenanigans and other achievements). A dedicated stalker could find out whatever he wanted to know in about 5 minutes.

However, the whole premise of Facebook used to be that you made connections with the people you wanted to connect to, and no one else could have access to you if that's how you chose to operate. You can't find my Facebook account if you Google it, because I set my privacy settings that high. I put more personal info on Facebook than anywhere else on the internet, because frankly, Anonymous Internet People scare me, Corporate Advertising Schemes annoy me and I'm just not comfortable with having that much of my information out there.

Every application you allow access to your account -everything from quizzes to games to adorable bumper stickers -can now store and sell your information indefinitely.

So, a few days ago, I posted a notice stating that I would be leaving Facebook. This morning, I deleted almost all of my personal information from my account. I removed every single application from my account, and I logged out. I removed the quick-link-tab thing from my bookmarks bar. And I'm probably not going back. You may notice, and rightly, that I did not actually delete my account. I'm holding out. Perhaps Facebook will regain some integrity and stop selling its users information to advertisers. I'm not holding my breath.

What Does that Mean for You Readers?

It's actually a good thing. Now, the 2-ish hours I spent on Facebook every day can be devoted to something else. I had my first Pavlovian impulse to check Facebook about 15 minutes ago -the slight twitch of the wrist, heading for the slot where the link used to be. I was not working on anything, so why not check Facebook? It's what I have done for months. In between articles, homework, phone calls, online Scrabble games, I'd get on Facebook.

Now, I don't have that distraction. To satisfy the impulse of doing something for the sake of doing it, which is the main reason I used Facebook anymore, I wrote. I wrote this.

What I'm saying is, without Facebook, I'll be blogging more.

Every time I have an impulse to get on my account, I'm going to replace it with something constructive. Reading a chapter of a book. Writing another article. Working on my literary journal (which is going to be published soon, by the by -check out its blog). Working on the blog. Doing my homework, cleaning my room, editing my latest novel, organizing my get the idea.

I am going to miss Facebook. I know that. But I'm hoping that it will be a positive change for me, for the blog, and in general.

Whether you choose to take a similar path is your decision -this wasn't meant to be persuasive. It is meant to make you think a little, though. What exactly do you use Facebook for? And is it worth having them sell your information to anyone who is willing to pay for it?

I'll be back soon with an actual update on books -the impulse to get on Facebook won't stay gone for long.


  1. I've been thinking of giving up Facebook myself. I don't even really get anything out of it. I'm curious did you delete your account?

  2. RT'd it. Thinking about doing this myself - I use FB very little anyway, and they're not making me feel better about it.

  3. Amanda -I didn't delete it, because there's always a sliver of hope that they'll go back to not being scummy. I'm not holding my breath, and if they don't change their policy within a few months, I probably will delete it. This is kind of a trial period for me to see how I deal with not having Facebook, in addition to making a statement about the way they have begun dealing with privacy issues.

  4. Good thinking! I will probably take the same approach. I can't say I will miss Facebook. It's become more of a nuisance than anything else.