Monthly Archives: May 2010

I Killed My FaceBook Account. Or So I Thought.

Preamble

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.)

Leaving Facebook

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.

Further Reading

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.

Acknowledgements

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

Gay Dogs Not Allowed

Blogging Against Disablism Day

I thought I had pretty well exhausted all material that I might use for my 2010 Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD) post until I turned up this rather odd news item, Gay dogs not welcome, on the Adelaide Now news site.

Read the article and judge for yourself, but I think that even if you believe the story that these people thought the man had a gay (not guide) dog, then they were guilty of sex discrimination if not blatant disablism.

So now we do not only have direct disablism, but we have disablism by proxy – making barriers for assistance dogs.

May I suggest that you now go to the BADD site and have a read through some of the fine contributions there – and maybe write a post of your own if you haven’t already done so.