I have stopped using Facebook. Let me rephrase that. I never really used Facebook that often – but I have deleted my account. Permanently.
In short, I don’t miss it. I had never really got much value out of it. The issue for me is broader than the recent controversies around how Facebook uses your private data. Let’s be honest – if you are genuinely surprised that facebook uses your data in shady ways then, frankly, you probably shouldn’t be online at all. I see no philosophical difference between how Facebook uses your personal data than how a supermarket store card does. In fact, at least Facebook has the decency to tell you it will use it.
No – the issue for me is around three areas: trust, manipulation and attention.
1. Trust. I do not believe that Facebook’s leadership can be trusted with my data. This is an organisation that has consistently pushed their terms of service to the limit. By design they make managing your public and private data extremely complex. The numerous privacy settings are a minefield to navigate. For average users, understanding what is public verses what is private is next to impossible. At best it’s just a sloppy UI – at worse it is complexity by design.
2. Manipulation – this is where Facebook excels. A proprietary algorithm working behind the scenes gets to decide what you see and read in your feed. This may be fine if family photos and status updates are all you care about. But for many, Facebook is broader than that. It has become the basis of how many people consume news and public opinion. I’m concerned that rather than bring people together, it divides people. Left verses right. Liberal verses conservative. Without balanced news, I see Facebook as one of the root causes of our increasingly divided society.
3. Attention – Facebook, like many other social media needs your attention to survive. Eyeballs on the screen is essentially how it makes money. The algorithms it uses, the adverts it runs and the content you get to see in your feed are deliberately designed to take your attention. It’s easy to dismiss this and blame the users – but just look at just how many people you see out there with their faces glued to their smartphones. These people aren’t coding or creating content, they are catching up on the latest gossips from their feeds.
So thank you Facebook, but you’re not for me. I’m out.