Digital Sanity, Part 1: On Leaving Facebook…

TL;DR – There are too many tradeoffs for me to keep using Facebook as a personal account, so I am going to close it.  I’d rather focus on using Twitter and other services.

A little history: I’ve been on the Internet and its predecessors for over 30 years, and have had the pleasure of working on the AOL.Com and Friendster teams.  I received my first email in 1981, and I recall using my Atari 400 to dial up to a BBS before that.  I have a wee bit of insight as to how things were, and how they got to be now…

I’ve been frowning more and more lately, when I think of online privacy and security.  We all have a comfort zone of which tradeoffs we’re willing to make to be online.  There are great things there:  Friends!  Retail!  Media!  If we’re willing to give up much of our privacy and security, and be tracked relentlessly by third parties of third parties, then sure, the Internet is a digital wonderland.

But at some point, it’s good to look up, say “time out!”, take a deep breath, and think about “how did I get here?  Why am I letting Facebook and others track so much of my life?  Do I really trust these people to do the right thing with my data?”

I’ve been thinking of leaving Facebook for a long time.  The thing that would make me stay is “well, I have friends there….”  However, I have many of those same friends over on Twitter.   There hasn’t been any one tipping point, but I would say the NYTimes Article: Let Me Pay For Facebook helped cement my decision.

I will close my main personal Facebook account soon.  I simply dont trust Facebook to do the right thing.  They continually mess with their privacy settings, and they don’t respect my choices (i.e. the newsfeed reading order).  I don’t want data about me being sold to third parties, which will in turn make its way to third parties of third parties.  That turns into ad targeting, text messages, spam emails, etc.  Does Facebook do much to give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about my data?  Nope.

Tim Cook recently gave a speech about Privacy and Security, and made reference to companies such as Facebook and Google:

“They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be”  — Tim Cook

Not that I trust iCloud much either, but that’s another topic.  Of the social media services I use, I perceive Facebook as the least trustworthy, so ixnay to the facenay!

I will write more about this whole idea of “Digital Sanity” in the coming weeks.  It’s not as if I’ve traipsed off to conspiracy theory land.  It’s more of a feeling of “what have I given up in the last 20 years, do I feel comfy with that, and what do I get in return?”


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