NB: The reasons I share below are mine and to a certain extent I share them with 19 818 subscribers at http://www.quitfacebookday.com (as of 26 May 2010). They are not transferable and not intended to persuade people to do the same. It is just to notify my curious friends about my departure.
1) Tagging in photos without my permission
When you update your relationship status on Facebook with someone who is on Facebook. Your status won’t reflect his/her name until he concedes (grants permission) for the update to reflect. However, when it comes to photos you are tagged without your permission. Facebook only notifies you through your notifications and expects you to opt-out (remove the tag) if you don’t approve of it.
2) Opt-out privacy settings
By default (before you make the changes) your account on Facebook is automatically public. In practice this means, even though people who are not your friends can’t comment, they can see everything in your profile including your status updates, your Wall, photos and so on. Initially this was applicable to Friends of Friends, but since April 2010 these can even be seen by people who are not on Facebook by merely searching your name on Google. You need to go to privacy settings to change this so that only your friends can see your stuff. Even though my profile has some level of restriction for those who are not my friends, the problem is that most of my friends don’t have restrictions and thus risk the exposure of the content I generate, in particular through the reason I list next.
3) Following my footprints
Before Facebook made the changes they made to privacy settings on 10 December 2009, the settings had the option of switching on or off the appearance of the record of your activities on the Wall. I don’t want every record of me commenting or liking someone’s status or photo appearing on my Wall. Especially in the circumstances where privacy uses the opt-out system (as stated above). I don’t want all friends knowing whose status I commented on, when was it and what did I say. This privacy was removed on the December 10 changes because Facebook insisted that that is what, me, the user wants.
4) Forcing sharing down my profile
Facebook has gradually eroded the privacy of information over time until such that by April 2010 it is only the Birthday and Contact Info that is visible only to friends. The rest of the information i.e. Status Updates, Wall Posts, Photos, Comments, Likes, etc are all visible to everyone on the internet. If you thought you ignore a friend request because you don’t like sharing with that person, rest assured they can see almost everything, it’s just that they can’t comment or like. Facebook insists this is what users, including me, wants.
5) Less and less controls
There have been fewer and fewer control mechanisms on what I can or cannot share on my Facebook and with who can I share it with. The best illustration of the errosion of privacy is done by Matt Mckeon on his blog http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/
6) Lack of portability
When you use an email such as Gmail, you are able to download all your emails and all your contacts, shut down your account and move elsewhere. This is part of the freedom that should be provided by the online services. It is what has made the internet prosper due to competition for providing the better service. But no, Facebook does not provide this portability. Whatever content you create, which belongs to you, you can’t take it with you conveniently. You can only destroy it by deleting your account. I don’t want to generate so much content only to destroy it later.
Facebook will have to fix at least half of these issues for me to return to being a fully active user.
However, I shall initially deactivate my account for a few days. I will later reactivate it within a week, but it will remain dormant, perhaps with the exception of the inbox so that those who don’t have my email can still get hold of me. The reason I’ll keep it active but dormant is so that both my data and that of my friends linked to my profile will remain available. Other than that, there won’t be any new status updates, wall posts, etc.
For the skeptics, I stand by what I have said before, Facebook addiction is a Fallacy. See http://blog.bayanda.co.za/archives/the-fallacy-of-facebook-addiction/
For those who think I am paranoid, for your gratification, I plead guilty to paranoia thankyouverymuch.
And yes my Twitter account and my blog are public, but they were always public. I did not generate their content based on a pretence of privacy. I developed their content fully aware that they are public. Plus I retain full control on them.