Last week, I deactivated my Facebook account, and for good reason. I have been complaining about how much Facebook annoys me for months and maybe even years*, but I always used the excuse that I work with clients and serve as the admin on their business or organization page, so I just can’t leave! But I finally decided that Facebook takes up too much of my time, it generates negative emotions (anger, annoyance, jealousy, sadness, etc.) that I just don’t have the energy for, and I just don’t trust Facebook and their claims of valuing our privacy.
Facebook Takes Up Too Much Time
When I’m bored, I check Facebook. Sometimes, I’m able to close the app/webpage quickly, other times, I’ll waste 30 or 45 minutes browsing around, passively interacting with people. Because it makes me feel bad (see below), this is not productive time.
Facebook Generates Negative Emotions
I’m not going into a lot of detail here, but I’m sure you know at least a little bit of what I’m talking about: you see a post asking you to Like it to prove you love Jesus/your grandma/cancer patients or just keep scrolling to go to hell/hate your grandma/poo-poo on the struggles of cancer patients. Those posts are stupid and totally untrue, and the first time I saw one, I thought for sure they wouldn’t be around very long, but I was very wrong.
Or there are the political/other posts that just don’t make any sense or are obviously made up. Snopes.com, common sense, critical thinking, people. Use them.
Those posts annoy me and make me angry, and I’m tired of it.
Depending on my mood, other types of posts might make me feel sad, haughty, regretful, or jealous. When anything else in my life leaves me feeling so negative, I eliminate it from my life.
Facebook Does Not Give Users Control of Their Data
Facebook has told us over and over again that they respect our privacy, but they continually tweak the platform to make more money for Facebook off of our Page Likes and personal information, always with the opt-out model; if Facebook at least let users opt-in to substantive changes (I’m not talking about look-and-feel changes), I could feel better about using—and thus supporting—the platform. I was very good at regularly checking my privacy controls because I had figured out that they often change things; now, it just exhausts me.
What it really boils down to is that the Facebook user—you and me—we are the product, our shopping preferences, our needs and wants and online usage habits, that Facebook uses to generate income. I’m okay with that; it’s either be the product or pay to use the service or pay to use premium features. I use and love most Google products, as well as Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, and Pinterest, without worrying too much about my privacy, but that is because I have come to trust those developers and companies. They are up front about how and why they are using our data; Google has always served ads based on words I use in search or in my emails. And they tell me they are doing it, and they are not giving other people the freedom to use my information without my consent or knowledge.
On top of that, Facebook lets users download their friends’ information to their phone or import it into apps (like a birthday alarm app) en masse, without their friends’ control. I don’t know what that birthday app is going to do with my information, nor do I have a chance to put my stamp of approval on letting an app my friend is using have my information. It just takes one app to use my information inappropriately or to get hacked, and my privacy has been violated to a fault with without me ever granting my permission for my data to be used by that app. That is wrong.
When you give start using a Facebook App, you typically give that app permission to store your data (probably not just contact information, but usuage and Likes as well) on their servers, and it can stay there after you have stopped using the app, which means you are in their database.
We are still in the Wild West of the Internet, and I believe that in the future, we will have more control over our own data, but we don’t yet, and speaking and acting out against this practice is one way to make sure that happens.
Tomorrow, I’ll write about how I am going to move forward, since I do enjoy Facebook Groups for my book clubs and Vizsla camaraderie, and because part of my job includes posting to Facebook Pages.
Have you ever deactivated or deleted your Facebook account? Tell us why in the comments.
* I joined Facebook in 2006 as a Missouri State student.