It may be free, but it costs too much

or: why I’m leaving Facebook

This is what I posted on Facebook yesterday:

I’m sorry, friends, but Mark Zuckerberg has said in the past that he doesn’t believe in the concept of privacy, and he keeps proving this again and again. I am sick and tired of the constant surprises Facebook springs on us. I am fed up with the constant need for super vigilance about which bits of my info (and my friends’ info) FB might choose to show to other people. I have had enough of discovering again and again yet another way in which FB is treating my personal info as their toy, to play with as they fancy.

I will be deleting my profile at the end of this month. Hopefully, if Facebook doesn’t hide this from you as they do with some posts (another reason for my fed-upness), this will give you all fair warning.

Those who need to know where to find me should already have my email address/other contact details. Online you can find me on Google Plus. I’m sorry, but I really can’t stick around here any more.

The last straw was actually a combination of a few straws, all in a very short space of time. But the most serious one was this: I posted something on my own profile, and tagged someone else. I was aware that doing this means my post shows on the tagged person’s profile too, but what stunned me was that comments also show in both places – so when one of my friends commented on my post, on my profile (which I keep set to private), her comment was made viewable to the tagged person’s friends too.The embarrassment potential here is just huge! I expect this is specified somewhere in the small print, but how many of us read all of it? How many people are able to keep track of the ever-changing privacy settings? I do not feel safe posting there – that’s the bottom line.

Why have I stayed so long? Because there are people who are very dear to me who use it as their main way of keeping in touch with friends, and I have been loath to give that up. But this tagging incident really shook me up, and I was reminded that a while back Mark Zuckerberg said he doesn’t believe in privacy online – so this isn’t just a blip, it isn’t an accident, it’s a matter of deliberate policy.

And it’s not as though they provide such a fantastic product… Sure, they have improved over time (the competition with Google+ has been very helpful) – it’s not that long ago that I wouldn’t have been able to post such a long “status update”. But it’s still very fiddly compared to G+ and, more importantly, it’s extremely unreliable for the most basic element: showing you posts from the people you want to keep in touch with. You just never know what they’ll choose to show you in your news feed and what they might be hiding. (Yes, even when you use the settings they’ve provided and say you want to see all posts by someone.)

But, you will say, it’s still a way of keeping in touch, isn’t it? And it’s free!

Imagine a company offering free video calls – oh, we have that already… Would you use it if, on top of showing you ads on the screen (well, they need to make money somehow), they also offered such a bad connection that you kept missing half the words, and also every now and again you found that someone else was allowed to listen in to certain parts of your conversation, which were specified somewhere in section 165b of a manual which is kept in the basement of the Inter-Gallactic Communication Department on Planet Beta37?

Facebook may be a free service in that they don’t charge a fee, but I feel the cost is too high in terms of potential information leaks, and the service isn’t good enough. I for one am not willing to put up with this any more.

One thought on “It may be free, but it costs too much

  1. Pingback: Let’s keep in touch | Meirav's Blog

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