Facebook recently introduced some new features and everyone is suddenly up in arms about them. Again.
So what? There’s nothing fundamentally new about this situation; people get used to a service and go berserk when it changes, intelligentsia become worried about the negative consequences, there’s a big discussion about privacy and how now that the sky has fallen something will change, and then the ruckus dies down and everybody forgets about it until next time. It’s tempting to ignore all the excitement because it’s become so routine. Nothing to see here. Move along, Move along.
Except this time, it really is different.
Oh, people say that every time too, so now each change never really seems like such a big deal. We get used to it. Yawn. It’s almost an effort to read the articles describing the new features. Who cares about all the new menus and buttons you can now wade through to fine-tune your sharing preferences? It’s too much like work.
But then something jumps out. For me it was this comment from @lizcastro on Twitter:
Without realizing why, I had consciously been doing the same thing. Whoa. What’s going on here?
Then @mikecane jumped in with this:
Evercookies: everlasting cookies that regenerate deleted ones? So you think they’re gone, but they’re not really. Sounds worrisome.
And then I saw this article on ReadWriteWeb:
So logging out of Facebook is not enough. They can still track you. This is what I subconsciously realized before but hadn’t been able to articulate. Wait a minute. They can still track you. What doesn’t Facebook understand about what a user expects to occur when he logs out of a system?
But are they really doing it, you might ask. The correct answer to this question is “Who cares?” Even if they’re not doing it now, they certainly can, and if they can, they probably will at some point. You might think you’re the customer, but to Facebook you’re just part of the goods being sold!
So I realized: that’s it; that’s the last straw. I’m going to remove myself from Facebook. As it is, I haven’t logged in since last month, and no one seems to have missed me, so what’s there to lose?
Now to be sure, it’s not going to be easy to do it right. It means understanding things like evercookies and how to get rid of them. It means finding a new communication channel for a few people I’m in contact with exclusively through Facebook. It means removing all activities and media from my timeline. It’ll be tempting to play the ostrich and put my head in the sand, but I’m not going to do that.
All this may take a while, but I’m going to remove myself from Facebook and I’m going to do it on my terms, not theirs.
I’ll be working on this over the coming weeks, and anything I learn I will document here.