It may well be said that it’s not the first time I’ve walked away from Facebook, only to head back weeks or months later and allow it to insinuate itself into my life again. But I can stop any time! But it’s so damn easy. Open it up, scroll passively down the timeline, like a few things, LOL a few others. Hey, I’ve kept up to date with my friends and… wait, how did it get to be 10.20pm?
Well, I think I’m really done this time. Increasingly, I experience Facebook via my iPhone, and increasingly, it’s been a poor experience. I already hated the way FB put old posts back at the top of the list when someone commented. I hated the way that it didn’t deliver a complete timeline on mobile, so that I was unknowingly missing out. I’ve been uncomfortable with the advertising, which will come as no surprise to those who know that I’m prepared to work quite hard not to be accosted by adverts.
But I really, really hate that Facebook manipulated what information it displayed, just to see if it could influence its users moods (it could). I may not have been affected by it, who knows? Still, the news of that research project is a cogent reminder that Facebook is not a service provided for the good of its users: it is a company that aims to collect as much information as possible about people and then monetize it. Fair enough, that’s what we all signed up to. Although not quite, as Facebook only updated its terms and conditions to cover research after completing said research. But that’s a quibble. Essentially, we all exchanged privacy for ease and were happy to do so.
So this time it was mood management, and next time it will be something else, and then something else again. Facebook won’t change, because they don’t have to. Enough people are prepared to shrug it all off, for the sake of habit and convenience, and then there’ll finally be uproar when Facebook starts charging people for access to their own histories. I want out before then, and as I weighed up my moral complicity in passively supporting a company whose values I find troubling, versus the inconvenience of no long using their platform, here’s something else that was easy: the decision to leave.
So I have downloaded my data, and next will be the battle to get Facebook to delete, not temporarily close, my account. That, of course, is one area that Facebook does not make easy, because it’s not in their interests. And they don’t give a damn about mine.