Why I Deleted Facebook And You Should Too
“If you don’t pay for the product, then you’re the product”
I created my Facebook account early in 2013, back then I was a freshman starting college. In those moments it was normal to use Facebook to publish your personal life, share everything that passes through your mind and talk with friends and family. Today it remains the default choice, even in 2019, when people is noticing its decadence. I never saw Facebook as a company that makes profits through me and my data. I could never imagine that Facebook would have some much power under myself and other people, pushing us to take certain decisions, influencing our behavior and life style.
Years passed, and while I was growing and getting adult, I started discovering the evil monster behind the great white “f” over the blue background, the company founded by Zuckerberg. A lot of people has talked about this and the truth is that even today, when we know about the implications that represents giving your privacy to a company, most of us still taking non-seriously this issue nor the impact that we could experience over our lives in the future.
Let’s imagine that during years we have a secret spy following us everywhere we go, registering everything we do, exhaustively analyzing our behavior. Would we feel comfortable sharing our private life with an unknown person? This analogy is also explored in the “Amazon and data recollection” documentary, where it is explained how this company is also studying us to maximize their profits. They know too much about us, so much that they can chase us every where we go and know who we are, even if we don’t have created an account in their website.
My decision to delete my personal Facebook account arrives in a very special context for me, resulting in years of experiences that pushed me to decide this. Firstly, the real fact of being in the doors of a new “public life”, while being the co-founder of a tech company that we plan to take to mainstream, while placing a new statement in doing e-commerce (and hopefully we will make it). Personal life passes to a second plane when you’re building companies and, letting the public know too much details of your personal and private life could make us vulnerable to possible attacks. This is why you might not find too many personal profiles in Facebook belonging to serious founders, high impact people and instead you might find their professional pages, managed by them or a team. The world is a cruel and complex place, filled of bad people that will harm you just because yes, without a motive. This is a stronger reason to be even more insistent about taking our privacy and personal integrity seriously.
In tech industry we have a saying, “if you don’t pay for the product, then you’re the product”. Services like Facebook that tells you shamelessly that “it’s free and it will always be” is a way to make us believe that we pay nothing, when in real life we pay with what is the most important things people have: our decisions freedom and information. What will happen when these companies become even more capable to influence us to vote for political candidates or to move us inside strong social campaigns? What would happen when we became no longer capable to see the difference of an ads announcement we’re forced to see and a legitimate publication? Will we keep our decision freedom or this is actually a mere illusion today?
There are many attempts to build social networks more attached to the privacy-respect principle, like Minds and Openbook (which recently was renamed to Okuna because Facebook itself has registered the word “book”). We’ll see if those attempts results and a new era of privacy respect comes.
The process of “deleting” a Facebook account
Facebook accounts are really never deleted, all of your data remains forever in the company’s data centers, replicated through hundreds and thousands of servers, with many backups. Everything we have shared and given to Facebook will remain its property forever. Deleting an account actually means in fact hiding it from you and your friend/followers, because Facebook employees could keep accessing your information.
The experience of deleting a Facebook account is an intentionally hard, obfuscated and a difficult to find process that requires of too many steps and inducts you the physiological feeling of wanting to to go back. The biggest accomplishment that Facebook has made is actually to have been placed in the minds of millions of people, considering the app as one of their most important things in life, in a point in which a lot of them could feel depressed and uncomfortable when erasing their accounts and usually come back and reactivate. In Facebook they know this, and they take advantage of that, showing you messages like this:
“We hope you come back soon”, they tell you in a cynical and unashamed way, giving you up to 30 days to think about it. You can always go back to your account simply authenticating with your previous username and password, a very easy thing though (hard to delete, easy to recover). They don’t want to loose users, loosing users is loosing data sources and then loosing profits. Facebook is just a business.
They don’t want you to know this
Few days ago I was thinking about writing this story, but back then I didn’t have enough strong arguments. I wanted to explore this deeper, so I tried to publish a post in the only space that attaches me to Facebook right now, my professional page, and this is what I wanted to publish:
Two failed attempts marked this post as “violating our community rules about spam”, a ridiculous argument to not recognize they don’t want you to “talk badly about them in their own home”. In short words, you can not say in Facebook that you’ve deleted your personal account, if you want, try it.
Getting deeper into this, I discover that Facebook’s definition about spam is something like “Artificially increasing content distribution to make money”, “requiring people to like, share or recommend content before they can view it” or “Pretending to be someone else”. In none of these tree cases my post can be cataloged as spam. Then Facebook is contradicting itself.
An important detail
To people like me, who are only interested in taking advantage of the Facebook’s “professional side” -which is frankly dying in consequence of the algorithm that the social network is using to position publications-, we’re currently forced to have a personal account to manage our Facebook pages and I had to create a new one. I’m not using it -and I will not- in a personal matter, it doesn’t have a profile photo, nor friends, nor publications. It is simply a ghost account and it is really a pain that we’re force to do this. Years ago you could simply have a Facebook page without the need to having a personal account to manage it, but they discovered this was not resulting and decided to limit this option.
The terrifying thing about this issue is that when I created the new account, Facebook was recommending the same friends that I had in the previous account, the same places, the same pages and groups, everything. Resuming: they know who I am, even if I delete my account and create another, they always have ways to know who I am and then, they can reproduce the exact same previous experience.
Why to delete Facebook then?
Trusted sources demonstrated that Facebook’s app sends to the company’s servers all of your call logs, SMS logs, sessions duration and a lot of data about your devices and life. The app consumes too much battery, mobile data volume and is also invasive about sending you notifications to keep you engaged.
At this time, Facebook doesn’t have too much to give, just letting you scroll in a infinite feed of most worthless posts, memes, low professionalism and only personal stuff. Low-value content that gives nothing to people that are concentrated in building innovative and useful products to make this world a better place. The Facebook company knows this and that’s why they want to join their products into one and create a new whole experience, we’ll see if they achieve it and under which terms and conditions.
In any case, don’t gift your life to an stranger, choose to give more value to your privacy and don’t be another victim, you might be on time.