When the Federal Trade Commission and other regulatory and free speech advocates focus their eagle eyes on Facebook, management perks. More changes are apparently coming to the social networking site that approaches 500 million users. Once again, users’ account settings will be changed without their permission and only told about the changes after the fact.
It is for this reason that I was intrigued after reading an anti-corporation blog post by Adriel Hampton in which he shared he deleted his Facebook account. I was curious for his reasons. I pressed him for details and emailed Adriel a series of questions. Here are his responses…
Do you agree Facebook has gone rogue?
I absolutely agree with the premise of the Wired article you cite. Facebook has gone rogue. In a way, they are flailing about over there like there are no adults in the operation — or, if they are doing it on purpose. It’s very frightening. The privacy/“Like” issues themselves were not huge for me; I’ve always had very public settings on my profile and I’m generally very open on the web.
However, in aggregate, Facebook’s continued path of barely asking permission, constantly changing layouts, and not responding clearly to customer concerns, I felt compelled to stop supporting the site. For me, that meant deleting my personal profile. Much of it had to do with the efforts to get sites to adopt Facebook as their default social element, too. At what point, as an advocate of government-to-citizen social media efforts, do I say, we’re not creating content to sell Facebook ads?
How much time did you spend thinking about your decision?
I’ve been upset with Facebook’s general path for more than a year. I’ve done quite a bit of reading on the subject, some of danah boyd’s stuff on privacy and how the default design should be for young women, who have more real world privacy concerns than someone in my demographic. In the end, I made what was basically an emotional and very abrupt decision to cut the cord.
When did you start using Facebook?
I joined in early 2008. I joined to contact someone I needed to reach for work, and who I hadn’t found in more traditional online listings. I quickly found that I really liked sharing and following friends through Facebook and I also used it quite heavily for political activism. About a quarter of my friends there were people I’d met offline, maybe 10 percent family and “close” friends.
Did you waste time on Facebook?
I wouldn’t say the time has been wasted, because I’ve learned a lot about Facebook and accomplished a lot with it, including things like small mainstream news articles for things I did there. But I’ve probably invested several hundred hours over two years as an active member, in chunks as small as a few minutes to load a photo from my phone to hours cultivating contacts. My time using social media hasn’t really decreased, it’s just moved to other platforms.
Are you concerned about not interacting anymore with your Facebook friends?
Most of the contacts I have that enjoy the back and forth of social media are also on Twitter, so I can reach them there. I also hope to increase dialogue on my blog, and will be exploring some of the emerging open source alternatives to Facebook.
Did you tell your friends you were going to delete your account?
I announced, with a real anti-Facebook status update. I’d read that your account actually takes 14 days to delete, and I also left a link to my blog. However, it does appear that the page goes down right away, so I don’t think many people saw that. As Facebook has evolved, I found progressively less interaction there, so I’m not sure how much I’ll even be missed.
How do you feel about people taking pictures of you, or uploading older pictures of you, to their albums — but you not seeing it?
That makes me a bit uncomfortable, although plenty of pictures of me are on the open web. Actually, what I don’t like is photos of my children connected to text with my name or their names, and in the past I’ve asked people to untag those, which they were happy to do. I have to think on how to address that in the future.
Do you think other people should delete their accounts?
As my action was a bit emotional, and meant as a personal political statement, I haven’t fully decided whether I want other people to quit. What I do want to say is that it is my thought-out position that Facebook cannot be trusted.