Note: I wrote most of this about three weeks ago. While I don’t see myself fully deleting my account, I do feel the need to step away from it, deleting the apps from my phone and only checking in on a browser at home.
I have principles when it comes to tech and how I use it. I try not to keep anything which doesn’t bring me any value and evaluate what use it is for me before picking up something new. I also believe in open web principles, or the ability to own my own data, unadulterated, with the ability to pick it up and easily deposit it somewhere else if I see fit. I also believe in respect of the data I do willingly give, trusting it's not going to be used for a malicious purpose.
I say all of this to say I’m at my wits end with Facebook. At this point, I don’t feel the need to run down their past actions when it comes to user privacy and respect for data. However, their recent newspaper ads against Apple have thrown me overboard. In case you’re out of the loop, Apple this week initiated their App Store privacy labels to show what data apps are collections from you and how they’re using that data. App developers are required to disclose what data is collected upon any new submissions to the App Store. Facebook has balked at this two days in a row, claiming the labels hurt small businesses.
As John Gruber of Daring Fireball explains:
Here’s the thing. Apple isn’t blocking the ability for Facebook to personalize ads, in any way. Apple is just providing users with control over their own privacy. Users can easily choose to keep providing Facebook (and anyone else) with all the information they want. Or they can choose not to.
Facebook sees Apple providing users with awareness of and control over their online privacy as Apple taking away from Facebook something that Facebook rightfully considers rightfully theirs. This is no different than telemarketers feeling like you’re doing them wrong when you add your phone number to a do-not-call list.
Again, Apple is only asking Facebook to disclose what they collect, not preventing them from collecting it.
Quoting Gruber in September:
Just because there is now a multi-billion-dollar industry based on the abject betrayal of our privacy doesn’t mean the sociopaths who built it have any right whatsoever to continue getting away with it. They talk in circles but their argument boils down to entitlement: they think our privacy is theirs for the taking because they’ve been getting away with taking it without our knowledge, and it is valuable. No action Apple can take against the tracking industry is too strong.
Facebook is simply acting out because they’re being outed in a major way. That said, it’s still up to the user to decide if they want to continue putting their life on Facebook. I understand many don’t feel they have a solution for this. But, I do, and it becomes really easy to leave a toxic relationship when you know you have a healthier one available to you.
That said, I’m ready to shut it all down. Much of this is entailed on the website deletefacebook.com, but this basically involves asking for a download of my collected data and then collecting the contact info of those who want it.
That’s where you come in if you’ve made it this far. If I have a mobile number for you, great! I’m also up for email addresses, mailing addresses, and birthdays if you want a greeting on said date. Just send me an email with that information.
As for alternatives to Facebook, I’ll lay them out here:
- For micro blogging (or longer posts if you like), I suggest Micro.blog. That’s where this site resides and their mission is to make web journaling easy. Yes, it’s a paid service ($5-$10/mo), but remember your personal data is often the cost of “free” on the web.
- Wordpress is another good option if you want something at no cost.
- For chat, iMessage works great if you’re on Apple devices. For my Android users out there, I invite you to check out Signal. They’re an encryption based communications company with a great track record. However, I’m sure most will stick to basic text messaging and that’s fine.
Facebook isn’t without its good qualities. But, at this point, I can’t say those good qualities outweigh the bad. This all comes down to their leadership, who after many chance to change and do better, they’ve essentially doubled down instead.
I’ve also gotten this extreme jittery feeling whenever I deal with the site. I feel like an addict being pulled in and that’s uncomfortable to say the least. The best thing to do in a situation like that is to step away. So that’s what I’m doing.