I joined Facebook for two main reasons: to become more connected to clients and to view my brother's wedding photographs which were only available on that platform.
Whilst I tried to engage with the Facebook environment, I found the interface confusing, the advertisements annoying (targeted advertising should not put singles ads in for someone who has stated they are married,) and every visit left me with a sour taste in my mouth. For me, Facebook had little or no value, even as entertainment. Contrast this with Twitter, which I find to be a valuable communication channel, network builder, and a source of entertainment.
I am now in the process of leaving Facebook, not because I just don't get on with it, but because of the behaviour of those who run it. Every now and then, Facebook releases a new set of Terms & Conditions; it seems that, each time this happens, members' privacy is impacted. Things that were originally private, to be shared only with contacts ('friends' in Facebook terminology,) suddenly become public and the ways to make these private again (if indeed they can,) become increasingly complex. To misquote a popular meme, "all your data are belong to us."
Whilst I appreciate that Facebook's clients are not the members, but the advertisers and those to whom they sell all this data we have so kindly provided, I regard this behaviour as totally disrespectful to members, and irresponsible in the extreme. I regard Facebook as having a Duty of Care to preserve the privacy of its members and for all data to be private by default. The process of making data public should make it clear exactly how public the data will become and include information or links to information explaining the possible consequences of this. (If the general public were more aware of the possible effects of the broadcast of their private data, I would imagine that Facebook would have a much smaller user-base.)
The thing that got me really riled about Facebook's privacy abuses was the fact that leaving the service was anything but easy. After jumping through a few hoops, I discovered that my account was merely suspended, not deleted. Up to the very end of the process, I thought I was really leaving – but discovered this to be anything but the case. All my data is still there, waiting to be mined and sold on. At the time I suspended my account, I discovered that the only means to fully delete it is to un-suspend it, go in and delete every single post, contact, etcetera, one-by-one. Only then would it be possible to ask Facebook's support team to delete the account. Since then I have been advised by Mark Pesce, in a comment on his Manifesto, that there is a possible, easier, means to delete an account documented at WikiHow, but I have yet to put this to the test.
Whilst it had been my original intention to explore Facebook's privacy abuses on a case-by-case basis, events have overtaken me, with a swarm of members deserting the platform and articles being published left, right and centre.
So, rather than make this the type of article will take me forever to complete (I have already been at it a month,) I am presenting the following as further reading on the subject. Yes, this list may be biased; you will not find "Facebook is Extra Nice with Sprinkles" articles here, because what I am presenting is here to reinforce my position.
- Lynne Pope: How hard is it to be private on Facebook
- Creating a network like Facebook – only private [About the Diaspora project/New York Times]
- What happens when you deactivate your Facebook account [Read Write Web]
- Top ten reasons you should quit Facebook
- Facebook privacy: aback voice of pry! [Cisco Blogs]
- Facebook is just the latest sensation to contract a case of megalomania [The Observer/Guardian]
- Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative [Wired]
- Adopted children face anguish as birth parents stalk them on Facebook [The Guardian]
- Mark Pesce: Manifesto
I would like to thank the many people who shared links – mostly through Twitter – which I have used in this article. Special mention must go to Tony Hollingsworth who alerted me to so many relevant items.
Short URI for this article: http://bit.ly/ayKnRp