I ditched Facebook

The biggest responsibility for geeks in an age of ubiquitous internet is to inform, educate and share with friends the importance of understanding online identity and privacy.

The freedoms and foundation of the web we enjoy today are based on transparency and open standards. The most basic action of typing in a URL and visiting a web address through to emailing someone  is thanks to a community of individuals who were committed to sharing and innovating open standards to make the whole experience friction free.  Most users will not even be aware of this – it doesn’t really matter. But what does matter is when these users (500m and growing) join a website which hides behind the veneer of simply sharing and connecting people .

On the face of it Facebook is great. You get to connect with old friends, family and play the odd game from time to time. But that’s not enough for Facebook – they want more from you, much more. They now want your identity. This pitch to become the self elected owner of your online identity came to a head when they flipped your privacy settings recently. So, without your consent (or at least your approval), they decided to make your photos, friends list, date of birth, home address etc… public. Suddenly,  information that you kept private become public. Okay – they informed people. But how many people actually bothered to make any changes within their privacy settings?  And why should you – you didn’t sign up for that sort of treatment.  And frankly – where do you begin? Try reading the privacy policy which is in excess of 5800 words…

Another great concern is the new ‘like’ button which is now appearing all over sites lately. By innocently clicking on it – you are sending valuable data on the sites you visit back to the Facebook mothership. Pretty soon  – they build a neat picture of your online habits.

To compound matters further Facebook begun sharing your identity to Microsoft and other third party sites such as Yelp.

I recently made the decision to quit Facebook. I value my privacy and want to be in control of it online. However, even that experience was far from straight forward. First up, there is a difference between deactivation and deleting your account. ‘Deactivation’ only disables your account (which is kept dormant) . A simple mistake of logging on to their site will reactivate it. ‘Deleting’ your account is hidden somewhere under their help pages.  Make sure you select this option is you want to close your account – permanently. To make matters even more frustrating it takes 2 weeks to close your account!

For existing users of Facebook. I cannot tell you what to do. But, at the very least do a bit of research around the implications of Facebook and your identity. Become an informed user.

Jason Calacanis made it clear about why people should abandon Facebook. He makes the argument for leaving very compelling. Check out his thoughts below too:

http://www.youtube.com/v/Vb6wcSDjW-s&hl=en_US&fs=1&

So goodbye and good riddance Facebook.