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Get your loved ones off Facebook (salimvirani.com)
641 points by milly1993 on May 22, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 297 comments



Golden quote:

Don’t confuse privacy with secrecy. I know what you do in the bathroom, but you still close the door. That’s because you want privacy, not secrecy. (From I have nothing to hide. Why should I care about my privacy? : https://medium.com/@FabioAEsteves/i-have-nothing-to-hide-why...)


This. The military has secrets, but should have no privacy. Same with the government. Privacy is the opposite of transparency. We can have secrets while we know exactly what we are keeping secret, such as Private Keys and passwords. Secrets do not hinder transparency.


Privacy is required for secrecy, but secrecy may not (per the upthread distinction) always come along with for privacy. (Though I think the second part is dubious; yes, you have an idea of what I might be doing in the bathroom, but you don't actually know and moreover you don't know exactly what I look like doing it, and that is because privacy always requires some measure of secrecy.)

> Secrets do not hinder transparency.

Sure, they do. Secrets on matters that aren't the subject of concern don't hinder transparency on the subject of concern, but that's not because secrets don't hurt transparency but because the specific secrets at issue are outside of the area where you are looking for transparency.


"We can have secrets while we know exactly what we are keeping secret"

I'm not sure that's true. You might think you know what I'm doing in the bathroom. I don't think privacy and secrecy are truly separate things.


>You might think you know what I'm doing in the bathroom.

Well, even for the times that I know EXACTLY what are you doing (e.g. because I saw you gulp down 10 big Macs and a box of laxatives before rushing to the bathroom) you still want privacy.


So the military uses the bathroom with the door open, but... we don't know what they're doing in there?


No. They can tell us exactly. And they can be accountable. We just don't get to see them with their clothes off.

It's odd because apparently citizens get to have no secrets. Laws protect government secrets, but as far as I know the law is just as confused about privacy and secrecy as we are when it comes to its people.


Then you misinterpreted the analogy. Bathroom door = privacy. Bathroom activities = secrets.


There are no secrets in the bathroom analogy. We all know what you're doing in there (or have a 50% chance at guessing). But you still want privacy.


Nobody gets it...

He said you can have privacy without secrets. But suppose there exists a room with a door where you don't know what someone is doing behind it. The activity behind the door is the secret. The door is still representing privacy (not secrecy). That was the point of the analogy.


You're adding an element of your own subjective knowledge/awareness. You could not know a secret or something kept private. The only thing that is the same is your not knowing. What you don't know could still be a secret, something private, or even public knowledge for that matter. The point is, you not knowing doesn't make anything anything.

A secret is an attribution to the contents of a description which are withheld for security reasons. Or at least, that's what it should be. And that's what it appears to be with the military.

Privacy is a right to withhold information based on a fair desire to not have that information be known.

Invasion of privacy is someone pulling the curtains when you're showering or opening the door when you're in the bathroom.

That should not be confused with invasion of secrecy.

Either way, the main point is that these two terms are confusing, and even the law confuses them. And yes, people would consider something they don't know a secret also, and your use of the word is intuitively correct. But a clearer distinction could and should exist, and we should all work towards that clearer distinction. I believe the words are already more than adequate, since we already see the correct (most practical and fitting) distinctions used where they are most needed in practice (military).


There are known-unknowns, and unknown-unknowns :-)


The point they are trying to prove is that there is no way of knowing what happens in the bathroom. It is theoretically equivalent to secrecy


In the real world, though, 99% of the time, we DO know. And even if we don't know exactly, we can narrow it very closely. We either shit, take a bath, masturebate or whatever. We still want privacy of any of those things.


We found scorched tinfoil in the wastebasket. Someone has secrets and is not covering up.


No. I corrected it. The analogy is wrong. (edit; to be more accurate, bathroom activities are no secret)


Only if you're standing above them and looking down.


Maybe this was meant to be a joke, but an officer's superiors would be the one's looking over the stalls. No secrets no privacy.

Privacy is a courtesy. And a right to courtesy. Secrecy should be all that is related to security. It's interesting because the military seems to know exactly what a secret is. It'd make more sense to have secrecy laws alongside privacy laws for citizens. Privacy laws are not secrecy laws. Hence the NSA get's to do what they did, and hence they trampled on everyone's privacy outright violating all courtesy. They then make it a security issue.

As it stands, citizens are entitled to no secrets. Hence it's the wild west and we're left encrypting ourselves and standing in direct conflict with the government that would do far better helping us than being rude and insecure. Insecure is what they are. They have no trust or confidence in the people.


It was being facetious of course. But as to your second point, I really believe we are entitled to secrets, at least from my own reading of the 4th amendment to our constitution:

> The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches

This, to me a layman citizen of our country, means we are emphatically and explicitly granted the right to privacy against our government. Then again, we live in a time where a secret court can grant an order that tramples on our constitution. Apparently our government believes on it is allowed privacy.

You ever hear about this secret court orders and ask yourself, "Are we both reading the same constitution??"


A similar quote appears in Cory Doctorow's excellent keynote at the Eleventh Hope - highly recommend a watch; it's long but engaging:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qid6_J38BDI


This analogy works pretty well. The door gives both secrecy and privacy. If you want to keep people from doing drugs in the bathroom (their secret) you'll have to give up some privacy(people seeing things they know you're doing).


It won't be a popular opinion here but here it goes:

Well if it all goes to hell we will all be in the same handbasket. I'm simply not willing to cut people out of my life and miss out on things that are important to me because my data is mined and might be used against me. All these distributed platforms are a joke, no really they are technically cool but no one I care about is on them. Maybe if your entire social circle is technically sophisticated you can leave FB for something like diaspora (I don't know if this is the "new hotness" or if there is something better but I really don't care). My social graph is so far from able or willing to switch to something else it's not even funny. Like it or not there is a social stigma around NOT having a FB account. In fact I've thought on multiple occasions that someone is hiding something if they don't have one. You might hate me for that or hate the fact people think like that but good luck changing that mindset.

Look I've been on the other side of this, I paid for App.net (I think that's what that twitter clone was called) and tried multiple distributed platforms but they all fall short or require too many compromises. I tried to get friends to use Signal but no one really cares. iMessage/FB Messenger are just easier and everyone is on them. You want people to leave the "evil facebook" then make something better and easier to use. The best doesn't win, the easiest does.


One of the things that got me to leave was how crappy facebook has gotten for actual communication. This part of the post really resonated with me

> If you’ve ever had that conversation, you’ve noticed that there’s a big disconnect between your expectations when you communicate on Facebook and what really happens. Basically, Facebook filters out your posts based on whether or not people will use Facebook more if they don’t see it.

Too often I'd want to share or talk about something and radio silence. Checked with friends and no one saw it. Putting aside caring about privacy, why put effort into a system that over time is more and more geared to peddling crap to you and your friends, and gets in the way of actual communication.


For actual communication (messaging) it is actually one of the best. It is fast, reliable, and has genuinely great value adds like group messaging, encrypted messages, expiring messages and photos, location sharing, rich attatchments, seen notifications, integration with facebook profiles means I can find anyone (who has a profile) even if I don't have their contact details.

Sure the app is a bit heavy with features I don't personally use (stickers, chat heads, games, stories) but it's at the point where it's easily the best messaging client I've used.


I can't use it without installing an app on my phone, even when I force desktop (which used to work).

Remember when they tried to replace email with facebook messenger? And then tried to replace text messaging/etc?

If it's the best messaging client you've used, I'm bemused, because it's honestly no better than AIM was in 2002 for communicating with friends on my computer. In fact I probably find it worse most of the time.


Perhaps you and I have different needs. AIM didn't have any of the features I mentioned except group messaging.


Signal has most of these features as well.


Sure, but Facebook Messenger has all my friends.


This is really the crux of the matter. No matter how much a program kicks ass, if nobody uses it nobody is going to want to use it.

Getting friends to switch to Telegram from Skype was a pain. Turning around and saying, after they got cozy, "hey Telegram blows, come check out Signal!" would result in rolled eyes and nothing more.


I'm simply not willing to cut people out of my life and miss out on things that are important to me because my data is mined and might be used against me.

I concur that FB can be useful for finding out about stuff going in your world.

But if not using a certain commercial product -- any commercial product -- means "cutting people out of your life" to any significant degree, then well... you might want to think about the degree of dependence you've signed onto in using that particular product. And indeed, whether you really "need" that degree of (perceived) interaction with all of those people.


It may not be him that is dependent on a commercial product. I rarely, if ever, use Facebook as an active product. By this I mean I may post a generic status once or twice a month and may actively check my feed once or twice a week. However, if I were to completely close down my Facebook account, I would lose all of the passive information that is sent to me. This includes invitations to parties, people letting me know they are in town, updates from groups and organizations I am a part of, etc. So many people use Facebook as a pseudo or complete replacement for email. By removing myself from that service, I lose contact with those people and organizations. I am only one person. I cannot change the behavior of a couple hundred people to suit me.


To my experience, quitting Facebook has been quite easy. I quit four years ago. Sure, it's an extra burden on friends and acquaintances when they want to invite my to partys and such. They have to email or text me. (yeah, not on WhatsApp either). I might not hear right away when an old friend has a baby but for closer friends and family, I don't miss out on anything.

Note: I actually quit because I thought it would mean less procrastination, but then I discovered HN...


However, if I were to completely close down my Facebook account, I would lose all of the passive information that is sent to me.

Or you could just do a quick inventory of which of those groups / are still important to you. And then sign up again using a different device / email address. Along with, of course, a totally fake user name. And (slowly) sign up again for those pages.

Which I guess would against FB's terms of service, in theory. But fuck that. They certainly aren't honest and above-board with you -- there's no reason you "owe" them any particular degree of honesty in return. Just use them for what you need, and let them (and their expected monetization off the minutia of your inner life) sod off otherwise.

As you with with, you know, any commercial product.


Creating an account with a fake name doesn't help. Facebook will ascertain your real name through a combination of: - knowing who you communicate with - tracking your online behaviour (on and off site) - collecting your name and contact information off your friends devices and accounts

Even if you provided a fake name, you still agreed to the TOS, so they can proceed as if you're still bound by the legal implications.


Facebook will ascertain your real name through a combination of: - knowing who you communicate with - tracking your online behaviour (on and off site) - collecting your name and contact information off your friends devices and accounts.

We know they "can", in principle. But will they? That's something different.

Of course, the better solution is to never sign up with a real name in the first place.


I think the article details well how useful you are to facebook even if you are a light user.

They get info you still say, they get what sites you visit and what content is there, they get what you and your friends say to each other... like even as a partial user you still get MANY of the bad affects.

Not to mention, for me and many other people I bet, "cutting down" doesn't ever really work. They spend tons of money trying to increase engagement and make sure you stay on making that quite hard.


Not to mention, for me and many other people I bet, "cutting down" doesn't ever really work.

As with any serious addiction.


The more people get off, the less useful facebook is - and the more currency alternative means have.

I suspect, the people you feel happy enough to call, will be people who you would be happy enough to keep in touch with no matter what the medium.


IME it's all about keeping in touch with people that you can't physically because they've moved away.


Which people used to do just fine via other means, not too long ago.


But what's the advantage of Facebook over email and/or texting? I feel like for anything other than wasting time Facebook is sluggish compared to either. If you're a Facebook user you have a cellphone and/or a computer, and can do everything Facebook does: share pictures, plan events, check-in with friends, family, and groups of people. And not share data* or be peppered with garbage advertisements.

* I personally pay for Fastmail and have migrated all my communcations to email and texting (and feel the better for it). Obviously it is a personal decision, but realize everything you do is a vote towards a certain state of things.


> But what's the advantage of Facebook over email and/or texting?

This is anecdata but among my friends, e-mail addresses and phone numbers tend to change more often than their Facebook profiles. I know people all over the world, but out of all of Facebook connections, I probably only have accurate contact details for 20% of them or less. The contacts I interact with most often are obviously in that bracket, but many of those I talk to once a year or less are probably not.

Case in point. I'm currently planning a trip, and while on a previous trip to the same destination I made a couple of friends there. I have a phone number to one of these contacts, but it's out of date. However, we're also connected on Facebook so I sent them a message their to let them know I'll be in their vicinity later this year.

For better or worse – and this is obviously my personal context – Facebook is the best mostly self organizing contact list I've ever had. I couldn't care less about the wall, or liking things, or whatever you had for breakfast, but as much as I hate it it's the only stable way I've been able to keep in touch with all these folks that I want to keep in touch with. If or when I no longer want to keep in touch, I just prune them from the list, and likewise I get pruned from other people's lists whenever they feel we're "done."

I don't want to use Facebook, but e-mail and phone simply doesn't solve my problem of keeping an up-to-date contact list. They also don't work simply because I can't easily look up a contact and connect with them, because there's no global phone or e-mail book. I'd love to use something else, but fact of the matter is that everyone I want to keep in touch with is there, and until they are also elsewhere in a list that organizes itself, I feel obliged to use it. :o(


This. The only reason I maintain a FB profile is because I use it as a glorified address book, especially for people that I meet abroad.

I email/text close friends and family but if I want to get in touch with a past friend/travel companion/acquaintance, FB makes that easier.

Saying that, a lot of people I come across now have also stopped actively using FB and are very involved in Instagram. I found it odd that co-workers so easily and quickly follow an Instagram feed but FB, email, personal cell #s usually took longer to exchange. I'm assuming because with Instagram, there's a degree of curation and it's personal but not too personal.

I also found it odd that peoples' dogs had IG profiles and they would use those profiles to follow other co-workers' dogs. To each their own, I guess.


Advantage of Facebook over email / texting:

- Facebook shows me updates about friends that I wouldn't otherwise know about. These updates provide an opportunity for a quick connect that is appropriately shallow, just enough to keep the relationship warm.

- For many people I have their FB, but not their email, let alone their phone number. I discover these people through FB's mutual friend suggestion. These people can be those I met briefly at parties, friends in primary school, etc.

- A public exchange on FB allows others to jump in and converse. An email is confined to the intended recipients.


> Facebook shows me updates about friends that I wouldn't otherwise know about.

Adding to this, text messaging and emailing and deliberate and specific, which means someone has to think to include you. It takes work to figure all that out--it is an active decision to communicate instead of a passive broadcast about something general that invites people to participate. It's very easy, and a good way to keep relationships warm and to make room for serendipity.

I don't know about you, but I really dislike things like personal newsletters and text messages/emails just to strike up any conversation, probably because at any given time I'm probably pretty busy, and being present requires both thought and time. On the other hand, when I share something on social media, it means I'm pretty much willing to engage with all comers, or if I see you've updated on social media, I'll assume the same.

Secondly, if you're that random friend that insists on only communicating via text message or email or some weird idiosyncratic way that applies only to you, I'm probably going to leave you out of a lot of stuff, even if I like you, because I have limited brainpower and I'm going to forget when I'm managing 15-20 people on a social channel and trying to update you out in the wilderness.

Lastly, email and text really, really suck for discussing topics in large groups, so if I send a link I want to talk about to a bunch of friends, I have the choice of managing 15 individual conversations (with lots of repetition), or managing an incredible amount of chaos.

So yeah, IMHO social media has definitely solidified a place in the communication stack.


These all sound like they could be disadvantages to another person.


I recognize that while typing out my comments. It seems like there are two archetypes of people:

1. Those who have a close circle of friends that don't change much over time. For these people, phone / email work great because they have a lot more depth.

2. Those who have a large circle of acquaintances that is dynamic (i.e. relationship strength changes over time, new acquaintances appear through FB suggestions). For these people, Facebook is the only way to keep connected, admittedly with little depth.

Everyone is a mix of these two archetypes. I have friends that I call, and also acquaintances that I chat up via Facebook.


> But what's the advantage of Facebook over email and/or texting?

Discoverability. Facebook has it inside the app. Email and texting require you to go out of band for it.

It's impossible to exaggerate the value of this. Groups of people who had lost contact in high school have gotten back in touch in retirement, planned trips, and traveled to a place to meet up together because Facebook has in-band discoverability. Before Facebook such a group of people would just hope someone in the group had enough time and patience to manually track everyone else down, which was probably hundreds of dollars of their time wasted.

Musicians find gigs through it. Friends of friends are leaky so you don't even have to bother people to find useful connections or fan pages. Businesses list specials, trips, blogs, etc. Way cheaper than sending out a snail mail newsletter or even managing an email list.

All Facebook's users save oodles of time connecting with acquaintances and making new connections, for whatever reasons they wish to connect.

Honestly, it's an incredibly difficult question to answer fully because I'm not sure where the short circuit is. Why do you see value in messaging protocols but not social networks?


> Musicians find gigs through it. Businesses list specials, trips, blogs, etc.

Also students are highly reliant on it. These types of loose connections but strong network effects are hard to break.

However... > Way cheaper than sending out a snail mail newsletter or even managing an email list.

This is true less frequently. Facebook used to be a good organic channel to build, but now FB is forcing more payments, by forcing ads to FB pages, and then again for boosting posts on those pages. Plus, the costs are rising.

> Groups of people who had lost contact in high school have gotten back in touch in retirement

I experienced this too, but I also had a controlled test, since I wanted to track down some high school friends who weren't on Facebook. Turned out not to be so hard, and caught up with a bunch of other old friends along the way. :)

Sometimes the alternatives offer other advantages we don't see if we frame the problem as replacing what we have now exactly.


> This is true less frequently. Facebook used to be a good organic channel to build, but now FB is forcing more payments, by forcing ads to FB pages, and then again for boosting posts on those pages. Plus, the costs are rising.

Less frequently than what? Keep in mind the OP I was responding to apparently didn't see any value to Facebook over email/texting. The fact that Facebook is willing to degrade its service even to be slightly better than managing an email list in return for higher ad revenue isn't particularly relevant to that.

> I experienced this too, but I also had a controlled test, since I wanted to track down some high school friends who weren't on Facebook. Turned out not to be so hard, and caught up with a bunch of other old friends along the way. :)

> Sometimes the alternatives offer other advantages we don't see if we frame the problem as replacing what we have now exactly.

That's great, but it has nothing to do with the value of Facebook's in-band discoverability over email/texting.


> But what's the advantage of Facebook over email and/or texting?

For me, there isn't one, and enough negatives to FB that I don't use it. I have no trouble connecting to people I care about via the many, many other methods available.

Voice telephone is becoming unusable for me due to spam, but so far somehow, not text messaging. (I guess the spammers don't cross-polinate yet?) I run my own email server, calendars, image galleries, and other tools for collaborating, sharing, ego-stroking and whatnot.

I do miss out on some random social interactions, but usually that's honestly a plus. Some relatives feed me the "email's too hard" line, and I take that to mean either I'm not or the message isn't important enough to bother, and that's fine[1].

At this point for me, FB is something I talk about more than I ever see - my view of the internet omits them (and several other surveillance shops), aside from the time between when they deploy a new splat of IP addresses and I notice and block them.

IMHO, the internet is much better without them.

[1] Of course there's backstory, too, but that's private, and not the sort of thing I'm going to discuss in public on a third-party server.


> But what's the advantage of Facebook over email and/or texting?

Events/Groups is big for me. Not FB message groups (but I'll touch on that in a second) but FB groups, it's great for topics that my friends and I are passionate about to post into. FB Messager groups are awesome because they level the field in terms of experience and in some ways beats even iMessage. It's great for knowing if your friends saw your last minute message about a change in plans and works the same for my iOS and Android friends. Events are great because it keeps all the planning for a trip in one place and provide a good interface for seeing who is going/not. Yes there are other places that you can do all of these things but it's all under my FB identity and that has value. If it wasn't FB I'd probably use Google which is 6 in one, half a dozen in the other to me.

> but realize everything you do is a vote towards a certain state of things.

I believe heavily in democracy and the power of voting but this isn't just a vote. It's a choice to leave my friends and that's a choice I won't make. It's great if you've got friends who are ok with leaving FB, mine aren't and I'm not going to change their minds anytime soon and more honestly it's not worth being that annoying person.


> But what's the advantage of Facebook over email and/or texting?

Many people don't check their emails as frequently as you think. I know quite a few people (young and old) who are constantly on Instagram, FB Messenger, iMessages, WhatsApp, Line etc. but check their emails once a week. Especially if they aren't in an industry that revolves around email e.g. customer service.

Texting costs money in some places and lacks rich capabilities. It's antiquated.


Functionally you can achieve the same outcome using any one of the main methods of communication - a short email, a black snapchat, a tweet, an SMS and a Facebook post can all achieve the same thing (provided the message is short enough, or you can be bothered to chain them in the case of Twitter/Snapchat).

That said, all the different apps have a very different social context to them - how I meet someone and the intention of what I want to say to them will dictate which medium I will choose. Indeed even the expected response time will be different.

An email is a comparatively formal means of communication - I would expect the longest response time and would typically choose this for someone I either didn't know so well or was opting for a more official tone.

A Facebook message is quite informal so I would opt for this if I met someone under quite casual circumstances and/or I wanted to downplay the nature of my message.

Whatsapp is quite quick and fast to the point so I would use this for the fastest response time.

SMS has started to feel weirdly distant now, given that almost everyone is on alternative mediums, I find SMS to be quite the oddball for communication.

YMMV these are just my personal findings...


Facebook means I see all kinds of things people are doing and thinking and saying without having to be sent it deliberately. I can message them with this context sparking a new conversation, learning something about them - or even just ask if I can join them at an event.

People who can't see the difference between email and Facebook are not even trying to get what they can from Facebook.


In a weird way, FB Messenger (or any of the messenger apps) are more "cross platform" than texting. Actually, my main friend group chats are on sms (not even imessages), and adding/removing people really is a bit of a chore. Group management is definitely done better by the apps.

That being said I'm personally still using email the most. But we have these mental associations that one liner emails are a bit frowned upon whereas texts/messages can be 3 words or just an emoticon. That mental expectation and association that has nothing to do with the technical limitations of the platform define our interaction with the tool, for better or for worse.

Lastly I really value being able to send messages on my PC since I have wrist/thumb pain which is helped immensely by the ability to use a proper keyboard.


> But what's the advantage of Facebook over email and/or texting?

An email conversation thread (in say, Gmail) is a poor man's version of a Facebook post. You can add more people to the thread, but they have to look at this poorly formatted "quoted" history of the email to get context of what's going on. Contrast this with a FB Post where you can just tag someone and they see the post in exactly the same format as you see it. No weird formatting.

You can create "subthreads" inside FB posts by replying to a comment in a post. This doesn't exist in an email conversation.

FB Posts have a URL - you can link to them. This mode of communication does not exist in email.

FB Groups are a much more powerful version of email lists. They can contain events, people can mark themselves as "interested" or "going to" events - share these events with friends.

Do you use FB?


> In fact I've thought on multiple occasions that someone is hiding something if they don't have one.

I feel the same about people who do use facebook, when they take pictures of me and others who are not on "The Social Network", then they put those on facebook for others to see with other personal information without concent, they don't inform me about their comments regarding those pictures.

For all I know those people could be making fun of me for not being on facebook, not being social enough, having unfashionable clothes etc. From my perspective those people have something to hide, they share information in closed groups, refuse to email me those photos and waive it away like it's too much work, I have even experienced this with some of my relatives which saddens me alot. I'm not forcing them to use any specific website, forcing others to do that is nasty, it's no different than forcing others to smoke by the means of social pressure.


Expecting people to take an extra step to fit your needs (email) is really almost no different from asking them to share on another platform IMHO. They aren't hiding from you, in fact I'd put money on the table that they'd happily invite you into their group or you'd have access to the photos simply by being their friend on FB. You can't walk outside the bar then complain that none of your friends want to stand in the window and relay everything happening to you or get mad they might be talking about you when you can just walk right back in.

> it's no different than forcing others to smoke by the means of social pressure

Yeah... no different, except one of them causes cancer but sure, no different.


> Expecting people to take an extra step to fit your needs (email) is really almost no different from asking them to share on another platform IMHO.

Email is not a platform, I think you are confusing it with gmail.

> You can't walk outside the bar then complain that none of your friends want to stand in the window and relay everything happening to you or get mad they might be talking about you when you can just walk right back in.

This analogy doesn't stand because such pictures that I were talking about are more often than not are taken in the bar settings or other festivities. Obviously if I were walking outside I couldn't be on the picture could I. And it's not all of my friends that's the point, being forced to smoke even passively harms your health, being forced to be on facebook harms your privacy - that was my point.


> > it's no different than forcing others to smoke by the means of social pressure

> Yeah... no different, except one of them causes cancer but sure, no different.

And Facebook causes harm to people in other ways. It's an overly dramatic way of making the point, but the point is that people using Facebook doesn't just affect them -- it affects anyone in their social circle.


There is this article: Facebook and Twitter 'harm young people's mental health'

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/19/popular-soci...


> except one of them causes cancer

I see Facebook as a type of cancer so...


Obviously the point of the analogy was that Facebook's effects are harmful, too, just like those of smoking.


This is the first I've heard of a stigma against people who don't have a facebook. Anytime it comes up I don't have one -- which is rarely -- seems to either be taken as a simple matter of fact, (usually by people older than me, it seems), or as something to aspire to, like I just told them I'm a vegan or something.

Maybe it's regional; I'm in portland.

Back when I was on facebook I had a friend who wasn't. I remember just being kind of annoyed that I couldn't just send a group message, I'd have to send him an email separately, but otherwise didn't attach any significance to the choice.


I'm a software guy. I just turned 40. I started my facebook account about a year ago. I was quite proud to not have one and there is a bit of a stigma against people who don't, but I didn't agree with them. Why did I do it? I moved to an area where the school information, community information, yard sales, just about everything is on FB. I've refused almost all friend requests because I don't really use it. It only exists so I can log in once in a while and check out the info inside the walled garden. Then I log out. How do we replace something that entire communities rely on?


> The best doesn't win, the easiest does.

Exactly. Diaspora and its ilk miss this point entirely. If users have to set up their own infrastructure or even think about how it works then it's never going to scale.


Even if you personally don't have to setup your own infrastructure, like if you join a friend's instance (which in this case would end up being MY instance) it still sucks. Especially for the friend (ME) who sets it up and maintains and PAYS for it. It means I instantly become tech support or the source of "Josh, Diaspora won't let me post this image...". That's the last thing I want to do in my free time.


> The best doesn't win, the easiest does.

This is the crux of the challenge.

Plenty of people are concerned about Facebook, not only for privacy concerns but also for its impact on public discourse. [1]

But any viable alternative must be mindlessly easy.

Salim Virani’s suggestion of phone and email instead of Facebook works in part — replacing Facebook as a messaging medium — but it doesn’t address the use of Facebook as a personalized news feed informed by your social graph.

We need something better. Something with a good mission [2] but orders of magnitude better.

[1]: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604082/we-need-more-alter...

[2]: https://diasporafoundation.org/


Salim here. I agree with the 'mindlessly easy' part. I've noticed the lack of convenience, especially in sharing the little moments.

As for replacing a personalised news feed, I still use Twitter and find that email newsletters, especially curations like getrevue keep me well-informed on professional news.

As for a personal feed, I found that Facebook wasn't really that great - lots of noise and I still missed things I thought were important. I haven't found a replacement, but didn't feel the need to replace something inadequate.


I think you greatly underestimate the degree to which you cede your personal sovereignty over to others by participating in these services. It's fine if you trust these companies (and more importantly their employees) to take good care of you. I don't trust anyone in America to do that, but you're free to spend your personal freedom how you like.


Your comment sums up the inertia issue nicely.

To me, rethinking social means rethinking the internet as a whole. The dream of a decentralized global network has been stolen from us, and it's up to us to find consensus and work together to get out of this mess.


Thank you for arguing your point.

Very often people advocating that we need to flee from social media don't get the chance to argue or at least practice arguments against someone with such a clear and obvious stance as you.

In the end, people who hold a similar position as you, must of their own volition leave the site for a general uptick in privacy.

And the only way to do that is to show someone something they want.


>Like it or not there is a social stigma around NOT having a FB account. In fact I've thought on multiple occasions that someone is hiding something if they don't have one.

Anyone have a source of "further reading" on perceptions towards people not on facebook? And does anyone have statistics on how many people in the U.S. are not on facebook?


>Anyone have a source of "further reading" on perceptions towards people not on facebook?

I don't know joshstrange or his circle of friends but since I experience zero stigma of not being on Facebook, it seems to be highly depended on one's particular peer group.

If I think of the 5 people I regularly interact with, none of them have Facebook accounts. Therefore, it's not strange that I don't have Facebook. The topic never comes up. However, some of the guys' wives have Facebook accounts so in some sense, the female spouses act as the "Facebook gateway" to the outside world. I chuckle at this state of affairs because it seems to duplicate the exact situation of the yesteryear where the husbands engrossed in the newspaper/tv always ignored the ringing landline phone and let the wife answer it.

If it makes you feel better, a lot of celebrities (including some under age 30) don't use Facebook either. There are various articles listing names: https://www.google.com/search?q=celebrities+not+on+facebook


I just did a google for "stigma against not being on facebook" and found a handful of articles that look decent.

Edit: Did mean to phrase that like "just google it" I just don't have time right now to vet the articles and didn't want to post links before reading them.


>I'm simply not willing to cut people out of my life

I've never understood this reasoning

If you require Facebook to keep people in your life are they really in your life in the first place?


I've never understood your reasoning.

"If you require email to keep people in your life are they really in your life in the first place"

"If you require a telephone to keep people in your life are they really in your life in the first place"

"If you need to send letters to keep people in your life are they really in your life in the first place"

For me Facebook is my go to in messaging and events discovery/organisation and it is a genuine value add which I do not want to give up. Just yesterday I organised a party - the invite is on Facebook because every single person I see regularly has it and gives me a simple way to see who is going and contact them, and for my other guests to see the invite list and interact with each other/make plans around it.


I'm writing that from a position of having given up my Facebook account in 2012.

  Like it or not there is a social stigma around NOT having a FB account.
That's absolutely true, but you know what? I really don't give a fuck! If your service is only available via Facebook login. Tough luck. You just lost me as a customer.

I'd even extend that thought to the current craze of US border control agents allegedly requiring your social media credentials for allowing you into the country.

Assuming that Facebook is a requirement to be allowed into the US, well, there's a host of other wonderful places to visit.

A world where you are required to do Twitter, Facebook or Instagram is a sad place, indeed.


I usually think people who don't have Facebook are cooler than me


Maybe we were just too early.

When I first wrote that post, years ago, I expected most people to ignore it as tinfoil-hat stuff. But as time has passed, people are becoming more aware. (Also, the implications are becoming more costly.)

I no longer write off the non-technical public as "they don't understand/care."

This gives me hope that alternatives can work, even alternatives that require network effects. (Though, I think the best alternatives won't be another social network but something more akin to easy ways for people to run their own group communications. I don't think a me-too will win here, but something more of a leap-frog.)


You don't have to delete facebook. You can try to minimize or stop supplying new info to them (stop posting, disable news feed, and use Facebook primarily for direct chats).


> ... that someone is hiding something if they don't have one.

We all have something to hide. It's called privacy.


It's amusing and sad that you honestly think leaving Facebook is the same thing as cutting people out of your life.

I've been Facebook free for several years now. It feels great, and I didn't have to cut anyone out of my life to do it (who I wasn't otherwise already communicating with). Much less noice, more productive, both in my life and in my relationships.


It is great if it works this way for you, but every group had its own dynamics. Personally my group of friends primarily talks via Messenger, that's where all the planning for things takes place. We have one friend who isn't on Facebook and he unintentionally gets left out of things. He isn't cut out of our lives, but ultimately he pays a penalty for not being on Facebook


> Like it or not there is a social stigma around NOT having a FB account.

Yes of course there is. Please do not take it personal, but the problem described in the article still exists, even if most people don't care. In Germany in the last century, most people cheered for a mass-murdering psychopath. Those who did not cheer, were surely stigmatised - right up to annihilation. Did this invalidate the stigmatised standpoint? On the contrary.


Useful hints:

- Put anything on Facebook you're willing to have on a public web page. Stop there.

- Don't use Facebook's messaging or email.

- On desktops and laptops, run Ghostery and Privacy Badger. This keeps Facebook's "like" buttons from tracking your browsing.

- Don't run Facebook's phone app. It's way too intrusive; it gives your contact list to Facebook, just for starters.

- Remember, sharing is spamming. Don't "share" links from others on Facebook. That makes you an unpaid employee of Facebook's ad engine.


Uninstall Facebook's phone app and check out mbasic.facebook.com. It doesn't require javascript to run. You can access Messenger and everything.


I use another browser on my phone for fb, and it's the only thing I use that browser for. This is amazing! I can finally read all of the messages I had without installing their app. Thank you so much for sharing that!!


F-Droid has quite a few open-source wrapper apps around facebook's mobile site which improve usability and isolation.


Except only seeing 4-5 messages from an active conversation at once on the basic site is basically unusable.


messenger.com also works well on the desktop to chat and avoid the newsfeed.

Unfortunately it redirects to the app/play store on mobile, and has a terrible layout if you force desktop mode.

I think a good enough compromise for me is to only use the messenger and contacts, and avoid the newsfeed/posts/pages.


That's exactly what I do. I only use messenger.com and the fb messenger app. My friends warn me when there's something of interest on one of our college groups, but apart from that I don't go to the main site at all.


I heard somewhere that version of FB was going to be depreciated at some point?


> - Don't use Facebook's messaging or email.

I'd love to not use FB's messaging, especially since they recently changed the email message notifications to say "you have a message. log in to see it" instead of giving a preview of the message like it used to. However, I can't figure out a way to keep a minimal FB account and not use their messaging. Some of my friends do have the vile Messenger app on their phones and default to using FB messages for communication. I've just not been able to ignore those, as a bunch of the time it's message of the form "hey, let's do X."


My solution is:

go through every chat that you had in the last 2 years, and "mute" it.

That way you won't get the red dot notifying you about it when you log into Facebook, and you can blissfully ignore any message there. You might still want to check messages there every once in a while (every couple of weeks, maybe)

If you have other contacts (advertised on your Facebook about page, even!) and you let your friends know to avoid contacting you on Facebook, I think they shouldn't expect you to be alert and quick to reply to their messages on such a platform


Your parent's explicit usecase is "sometimes people make ad-hoc plans with me through messenger", and ignoring those for weeks on end sort of defeats the purpose and encourages those folks to not make plans with them...


That is the issue. I'd be more willing to try training my friends to contact me through other means except that, having recently moved to a new city where I knew no one, none of the people I currently spend time with IRL actually have much invested yet in being my friend, so tossing up hurdles seems unwise.


here's an easier protip: use uBlock Origin, and completely hide the right-hand column.


Presumably you mean uMatrix?


No. I'm talking about uBlock Origin, which has a tool (see the button with the little eyedrop icon) which you can use to click on elements of the screen to hide them and save that as a rule. I think this is a bit simpler than uMatrix's UI.


Oh sorry, I completely misunderstood.

I didn't realise you meant visual column - I thought you meant 'use X and in it disable everything in the right-hand column'; since uBlock Origin doesn't have a columnar UI, I assumed you meant uMatrix. :)


That's about what I did for a while. Then realized Twitter is a better fit for public posts. Now, I visit Facebook in an incognito window only when my mom tells me to check out something.


Something more on the last point, it _was_ even worse in my situation. A friend(?) is a blogger who embedded ads on more than 50% of his posts. He's like a moving billboard, and I was forced to be an unpaid employee of whoever because I might end up buying something I don't need initially. He possibly post 30% of things that useful, so I can't filter this, all I can do is: 1) block him, 2) Unavoidably read 50% of crap.

I have removed my account for more than a year though, NVM now :/


Aside from having various ad blockers (also Privoxy and a modified hosts file), I never open Facebook except in a private window.


Yes, I love tuning my /etc/hosts as well. In case anyone is curious: https://pastebin.com/raw/4cUS8r8W


As for me, Facebook creates an emotional connection unlike any other service out there. I get to see my friends kids grow up, comfort lost friends when they lose a parent, share with my family when something great has happened. It's absolutely amazing and there's nothing out there that comes close to its reach.

If Facebook were suddenly gone tomorrow, I would feel devastated (so many memories of my kids, deceased father, mom, all would be gone). The only other sites that would provoke a similar emotional response from me would probably be Google and maybe Github.


I've never used Facebook. But if I had, to the extent you have, it would horrify and frighten me to reflect upon the fact that so much of my emotional life were all but inextricably tied into one private company, such that staying in that company's good graces had become a necessary part of maintaining access to my own memories.


I think you are taking this a little out of context. The best part for me is the feed into other peoples lives. It's a service I'd be sad to loose.

It's interesting to find someone on here who maintains all of their files/email/photos/etc locally in a redundantly backed-up manner at home on their own personal server. How did you do that? Can you recommend me a way to do that for a non-technical person?

If you don't then it would horrify and frighten me to reflect upon the fact that so much of my personal data was tied up into one private company. See what I did there?

Again, just to reiterate it's about the feed, and the loss of that connection to the people in my feed. I mean what would you do if apple/google wrote an update to their os that wiped all of your contacts for good? It's not going to happen, just like your example of loosing access to my memories because Facebook decides to destroy it's own brand.


From your prior comment:

> If Facebook were suddenly gone tomorrow, I would feel devastated (so many memories of my kids, deceased father, mom, all would be gone).

What did I take out of context?

And it's worth considering: "Facebook [being] suddenly gone" doesn't have to mean the service shuts down. It could just mean your account's been suspended for what some algorithm, opaque even inside the company and utterly occult from without, calculates is sufficiently probable cause. At best, it's going to take a while to resolve the problem via Facebook's famously helpful and proactive customer service. At worst, your account is gone forever. Maybe you can make a new one and start all over!

From your perspective, there's no distinction to be drawn between "Facebook is gone" and "Facebook is gone from me". Except that, in the former case, you're probably much better off, because in the latter case everyone else is still there - and it feels as much to them like the only way to keep in touch as it feels to you right now, and keeping in touch with anyone who isn't there feels like just enough of an imposition that, over time, they stop bothering.

(And if this seems like something that could never happen - that people would never just forget there are ways other than Facebook to stay tied into one another's lives - well, it can. Ask me how I know.)

As for the rest of your comment - I don't know to whose claims you're responding, but I'm pretty sure they're not ones I've ever actually made...


> If Facebook were suddenly gone tomorrow, I would feel devastated (so many memories of my kids, deceased father, mom, all would be gone).

I may not have articulated how I feel very well in that post. I should edit it to miss out on the things in other peoples lives I got to see and things I got to share with them because of Facebook. So you didn't take it completely out of context but you only commented on 1/2 of my post ignoring the fact that a lot of the value I get is from the feed aspect.

>From your perspective, there's no distinction to be drawn between "Facebook is gone" and "Facebook is gone from me"

Not true, If I lost account access to Facebook, I'd create a new account and build my network again. Not a huge deal.

>Except that, in the former case, you're probably much better off, because in the latter case everyone else is still there - and it feels as much to them like the only way to keep in touch as it feels to you right now, and keeping in touch with anyone who isn't there feels like just enough of an imposition that, over time, they stop bothering.

This is something I have experienced because I only recently started using facebook again. I use it to reach some friends but not all of them. I know that. What you are describing ticks me off too but it's the same with people who don't have phones/email/etc. Except in this case it's not a generic protocol but a specific service. That's probably more the issue with facebook/twitter than anything else. They created a closed ecosystem that people rely on not a protocol that can be implemented by anyone.

>As for the rest of your comment - I don't know to whose claims you're responding, but I'm pretty sure they're not ones I've ever actually made...

I was using a fake example to make a point. We all rely on services that are hosted by private parties and the fact that you're horrified by my choice seems a little extreme. I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, if you felt that way then my bad.


> If I lost account access to Facebook, I'd create a new account and build my network again.

If Facebook permits you to do so. They don't have to let you, and it is within their power to stop you. Whether they choose at this time to exercise such power seems to me less important than that they can, and that it's only up to you whether you participate in Facebook's privileged access to your friends, family, loved ones, and confidants, insofar as Facebook suffers it to be.

> Except in this case it's not a generic protocol but a specific service. That's probably more the issue with facebook/twitter than anything else. They created a closed ecosystem that people rely on not a protocol that can be implemented by anyone.

Yes, that's the point I'm making. They - and here I mean mainly Facebook, which is the only one of those two actually thriving - created a closed ecosystem which is entirely mediated at the whim of its creator, whose motives and methods are almost entirely obscure. And it has over a billion people using it - for many of whom it's the primary medium of social interaction.

That one relatively small and relatively secretive private corporation should have such astonishing insight into, and power over, the social interactions of such a significant fraction of the human species as a whole, is a new thing in history. To be sure, we live in an era of such novelties. But I think it's reasonable to question the worth of this one, as compared with the extent of damage it might be able to do.

That's why - while I'm not horrified by your choice - it would horrify me to realize, in retrospect, that I had inadvertently made such a choice in my own life. To the extent it is a choice, of course - when, as my own experience demonstrates, while one may indeed demur, to do so often incurs a peculiar new sort of social nonexistence by way of punishment.

None of this is simple, just as nothing else is, and I don't mean to suggest that only your choice, and not mine, bears a potential cost. It's only that, while I know in very real terms what my choice cost, the cost of yours has been a very abstract thing to me - as I said before, I've never actually used Facebook. I suppose the way you described it just brought it home to me in a way nothing had before.


I really like the way you write for some reason.


Thanks for saying so! I've put considerable effort into the skill, and it's always nice to hear that that's paid off in some way.

I hadn't previously seen your comment [1] describing your experience of not being on Facebook. There is much you recount with which I'm also familiar! But I hadn't thought it through to the extent you have, and your point about unplanned interactions, which had previously not occurred to me, is extremely well taken. I'll certainly be including that in my future commentary on the subject, here and elsewhere, and thanks again!

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14393991


I know it may have been rhetorical, but I just don't think managing your own data is possible (yet) for the truly non-technical person, at least at a level that competes with FB in both price and simplicity; it's still a choose-2 situation.

You can get a pretty good system set up with rsync, ZFS, RAID, etc. distributed between multiple machines and multiple sites, and have good security at a low price at the cost of a high knowledge bar.

Alternatively, you can have a pretty simple cloud backup system through Backblaze, Carbonite, Crashplan, etc., which should provide good security to people with relatively basic technical knowledge, but at a non-negligible cost (compared to free).

Finally, you've got the current cloud "ecosystem" players like Apple, Google, FB, etc., who can offer good technical security (ignoring the "we have locked your account" arguments) to absolutely all skill levels, with zero perceived cost.

That being said, I think the kinds of people who (A) actually even think about the privacy of online services, and (B) care enough to do something about it, probably have sufficient technical skill to choose other options. They can decide how important that privacy is to them, in terms of investing time, money, or both to solve these problems.


> I know it may have been rhetorical, but I just don't think managing your own data is possible (yet) for the truly non-technical person, at least at a level that competes with FB in both price and simplicity; it's still a choose-2 situation.

That's what I was trying to show. It's hard to not rely on some sort of third party service in life. I think a lot of people here just don't like Facebook.

I should probably create a Flex server at home to do this for my friends and family who aren't technical, but again if I host that on Amazon then I'm again relying on someone else.


There are differences between relying on the existence of a commodity service/product or of a unique one. If my VPS provider boots me off or shuts down, I just move to another. I won't lose a single email, and just a few IRC messages during the transition.

Meanwhile, if FB boots you off, you lose everything, and must hope they at least allow you to create a new profile.


> It's interesting to find someone on here who maintains all of their files/email/photos/etc locally in a redundantly backed-up manner at home on their own personal server. How did you do that? Can you recommend me a way to do that for a non-technical person?

...You don't do that? If you don't have local "gold master" copies of your files, then you don't own your files. And if you don't copy them onto multiple devices, then you have a single point of failure.

> I mean what would you do if apple/google wrote an update to their os that wiped all of your contacts for good?

I'd be very impressed that they could also reach my copies of that data that aren't stored on Apple/Google services...


> It's interesting to find someone on here who maintains all of their files/email/photos/etc locally in a redundantly backed-up manner at home on their own personal server. How did you do that? Can you recommend me a way to do that for a non-technical person?

You missed a very important point I'm trying to make with my question.

Can you recommend me a way to do that for a non-technical person?

Many people on HN forget that there are many non-technical people in the world and that they don't have a data server with raid drives in their house running OwnCloud/Flex for all of their backup needs. Hence why they use the cloud and that shouldn't be appalling.

I mean this analogy can be taken to some extreme places if you start looking at the fact that you trust a bank, the stock exchange, a government, etc. You could minimize how much you trust each of them because your personal happiness is based on them. And PLEASE don't tell me if your bank was all of a sudden taken to a negative balance you wouldn't be sad, mad, angry, etc.

The point is, many people don't like Facebook, Microsoft, etc. and they press that opinion on others in a manner I don't always appreciate. It's a company that offers a service I like. If it goes away I'll be sad, but life will go on.


Instructions for non-technical person: 1) Make a folder. 2) Save the file in the folder. 3) Every now and then, copy the folder to some other place (let's say a thumb drive or other USB device).

The problem is no more "technical" than that.


> Many people on HN forget that there are many non-technical people in the world and that they don't have a data server with raid drives in their house running OwnCloud/Flex for all of their backup needs. Hence why they use the cloud and that shouldn't be appalling.

Right...but they've probably got a laptop and a USB flash drive. That's all you need to keep your own copy around. I don't maintain an always-on server, OwnCloud, etc...but I certainly have multiple copies of everything, such that if Google, Facebook, and other services disappeared, I wouldn't lose any very-important data. Doing it with less automation takes a little more manual work, but that's the way I'm doing it right now myself, and I don't think it's unreasonable.

Even taking the option of cloud-only storage, set your phone to strip EXIF and upload to multiple unrelated accounts, preferably not connected to a social network.

> And PLEASE don't tell me if your bank was all of a sudden taken to a negative balance you wouldn't be sad, mad, angry, etc.

Why would I tell you that? Money isn't a copyable asset, and I keep mine spread among multiple federally-insured banks that operate under different business models. It's the same idea: Don't put all your eggs in one basket, no matter how attractive that basket is.

> The point is, many people don't like Facebook, Microsoft, etc. and they press that opinion on others in a manner I don't always appreciate.

There are a lot of things that people do that I think are stupid...but they don't need to know that. I don't express most of my opinions (including these) without some form of invitation to do so. Facebook's currently a somewhat-necessary evil. It's a company that offers a service that I used to like, until around 2008. I thought it was at its height of charm when it was still a college-only service, and has become steadily less likable since that changed. It would be inconvenient if it disappeared, but I think it would ultimately be a good thing.


I know you're just trying to make a point, but...

> Can you recommend me a way to do that for a non-technical person?

1) Use IMAP with copy-to-local-drive for email; Thunderbird or Apple Mail or a variety of other applications will do this reasonably for a non-technical person.

2) Store your files and photos on your hard drive, or a hard drive plugged into your wireless router which can then expose it as a network drive (e.g. Apple's Airport Extreme can do this, as can other wireless router).

3) Use Crashplan for backups. This is fairly easy to set up, even if you're non-technical, if you back up to their server.

This does rely on Crashplan, but they're the backup, not the only copy of the data.

> I mean what would you do if apple/google wrote an update to their os that wiped all of your contacts for good?

Restore from the contacts backup I store on my hard drive every so often (and which hence gets backed up via Crashplan). This part is fairly rocket-science for non-technical people, unfortunately.

> just like your example of loosing access to my memories because Facebook decides to destroy it's own brand.

The real question is what happens if/when Facebook goes out of business...


Same here. I use facebook because I enjoy the content that my friends share.

I am not using it because I believe “I have nothing to hide”.

I am sensitive to privacy and secrecy. I will fight for it every chance I get.

But I willingly share my life on facebook and enjoy the content shared with me. I get more value out of facebook than the countless other services that spy on me.

For example, just a few weeks ago I got a fake hand written letter from a car dealership telling me exactly how many miles I have on my car and how I should trade it in.

My ultimate conclusion about privacy is that you should take steps to protect with you want to remain private. Because even if facebook disappears tomorrow, something else will take its place, including things created by our own government.

It's sad to think that, but it keeps me from naively thinking that what I share online is somehow private... because it's not, and never will be.

That includes places like HN and Reddit. The government has programs to monitor all our profiles on these sites. I am aware of that, and I live my life accordingly.


You say "I am sensitive to privacy and secrecy. I will fight for it every chance I get" but then contradict with "I willingly share my life on facebook and enjoy the content shared with me". That's the problem. The government has never had a tool like this before and because of the social graph that facebook created, will likely not have another one like it anytime soon. Unfortunately for the average user (and even very advanced users) leaving Facebook altogether is the only option to maintaining secrecy of any kind. FB updates ToS far too often and nobody bothers to stay up to date with it. Using the service is admitting that you are willing to give up all secrecy and privacy (thanks to their chat being completely centralized). IMO, using Facebook implies you don't care about secrecy or privacy.


> You say "I am sensitive to privacy and secrecy. I will fight for it every chance I get" but then contradict with "I willingly share my life on facebook and enjoy the content shared with me".

This is not a contradiction. Someone with privacy has the right to decide what they do and don't want to share publicly. Like you, I am concerned by how Facebook is used, and some of its societal implications, but this sort of extremist attitude helps nothing.

> Unfortunately for the average user (and even very advanced users) leaving Facebook altogether is the only option to maintaining secrecy of any kind. FB updates ToS far too often and nobody bothers to stay up to date with it.

This isn't true at all. While Facebook is somewhat sketchy about changing their privacy rules, if you don't want certain information made publicly available, you can just not put that information into Facebook (and yes, that includes Messenger). Any non-technical person can understand this.


The article contends that this isn't actually true - or, more accurately, that Facebook's heavy instrumentation, both of the web and of its own properties including mobile apps, combine with some pretty sketchy behavior and ToS language to make "not put[ting] that information into Facebook" nearly impossible without stringent, conscientious, and perfectly applied opsec.


> This is not a contradiction. Someone with privacy has the right to decide what they do and don't want to share publicly. Like you, I am concerned by how Facebook is used, and some of its societal implications, but this sort of extremist attitude helps nothing.

What you call an "extremist attitude" I call "info security common sense". Companies like Facebook are well known to lull their users into a false sense of being in a "safe, governed social utopia" all while profiting from vast amounts of data both explicitly provided by users and implicitly provided through data analysis. Anyone even remotely close to fields like infosec, cyber security, or data engineering know that Facebook is quickly becoming a giant spider web for its users. While I agree with you that an extremist attitude is not helpful, it's come to a point where I just know too much about the background of companies like Facebook to simply ignore these issues.


> Anyone even remotely close to fields like infosec, cyber security, or data engineering know that Facebook is quickly becoming a giant spider web for its users.

Exactly. Everytime I see a person using Facebook (so basically every day) I think: Gosh, again a guy or girl not getting paid and yet eager to work. What a world do we live in?


Please. Everyone who has their entire life on Facebook put it there voluntarily. You are completely ignoring the people who put and small amount of information on Facebook and retain a large amount of privacy. And despite your not so subtle implication that you are smarter than anyone who disagrees with you, you have completely failed to defend your premise that using Facebook is fundamentally incompatible with privacy.


So your stance is that as a competent, technically savvy person, you are able to maintain your secrecy and/or privacy on Facebook? Are you aware of the vast amount of implicit data they receive just by you logging in and viewing your friend's posts? The amount of resources FB has dedicated to tech like fingerprinting (both browser based and behavioral) is enough to harvest vast amounts of data from even the most technically savvy people such as yourself.


> I use facebook

> I am sensitive to privacy and secrecy.

I do not want to be rude, but unfortunately those options are mutual exclusive.


I think that this is not an argument pro Facebook but against Facebook.

It demonstrates that it is a bad idea to trust important information into the hands of a third party.

If Facebook offers you a way to make a backup of your account then you should seriously consider to use it to have an alternative copy of your important memories.


This comment seems to be an exact copy of the last 2 lines of this comment --> https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14395046

Why?


bargl asked aantix permission to directly quote them without the intro further downthread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14395143

>Do you mind if I word for word quote your above to see if I get downvoted too? I want to repost with just the last two paragraphs to see what happens. I'm curious how this post would have been received without the intro.


Bots.


I'm curious of the other services you tried that preexisted facebook, and how they hindered you from connecting emotionaly ?

I think facebook has unique features, in particular a true global scale, but for the emotional side, is there anhthing inherent to facebook that makes connection deeper ?

To be honest, I still feel that the 'real identity' concept is a big hurdle to participate freely, and stops me from posting some of the more personal stuff that I was posting before under nickname based anonimity (even if my contact are all offline relations). A lot of people don't seem to get along with the idea of having multiple profiles targeted to different circles, and switching profiles is actually a PITA in facebook when using it mainly on mobile.

I switched to instagram for a while, but it is yet another niche that doesn't really overlap with what other social services where filing.


Download your Facebook history.


>If Facebook were suddenly gone tomorrow, I would feel devastated (so many memories of my kids, deceased father, mom, all would be gone).

WTF? How would they be "gone"? Facebook does not control your memories. So what else would you be losing if Facebook suddenly disappeared? Photos or videos? You don't say exactly, but I suspect this is the case. If so, then that's your own stupid fault for not keeping personal copies of that stuff. If you don't value that data enough to keep your own personal copies of it, then you don't deserve to have it IMO. Portable hard drives are not expensive these days, and store literally terabytes of data (I just bought a 4TB USB drive a couple months ago for just over $100). USB thumb drives are less than $10 for smaller sizes which will still probably hold everything that's on your phone now. There is absolutely no excuse for not having copies of data that's most precious to you.


Photos and videos might be easy to keep a local copy of, because you would be uploading from your phone or computer onto Facebook.

But memories cover many other aspects as well. Such as the descriptions that you write on your Facebook photos. The conversation threads that ensue. The face tags that you add and other people add to your photos. The set of photos that you selected for upload (rather than the outtakes). The way you name, organize, and describe albums.

Storage may be cheap these days, but ensuring that you have copies of your data in multiple places - such as hand-typed text - can be very time-consuming.


Not all the memories I value on Facebook are my own posts. Most people don't have copies of the photos they've been tagged in unless they manually downloaded them.


You could replace this whole article by saying "facebook is a private company and they have all your data, from posting and messaging as well as their cookies". Its just a bad idea at its very core. All these examples are trivial, who cares if they fake endorsements and track your location? Its like building a house out of sand and then people point out that a chunk fell off here or there. Its a house of sand, it was a retarded idea to live in there from the outset, of course chunks are falling off -- the whole thing will be in peices soon. Because facebook is an anxiety enducing and artificial experience, users will start leaving. Users who seem to need facebook in order to stay up to date with their friends, and who seem to have an interest in watching other peoples kids grow up (?) such as the one poster above me (and whos post will inevitably remain above mine) will stay -- but they will be the minority. Kids will stop signing up and at some point there will be a leak and the death of facebooks public image will finally be complete after starting years ago.


Nope. The article makes pointed and convincing arguments and it doesn't rely on unsupported assertions like your comment.


> Users who seem to need facebook in order to stay up to date with their friends

It doesn't sound like you actually understand the service Facebook provides, which makes your claim that it's all about to come crashing down very suspect.


I haven't been on Facebook for years. The result? A weakening of my friendships and of my social life. I often hear the argument that "if they were your real friends you wouldn't need that" or some variation but the truth is that unplanned interactions are a major part of how friendships thrive. If you are no longer part of a place where a lot of these interactions happen, it will definitely affect your social life, even if your friends are well meaning. For reference, I was born in the early nineties, and people my age and in my region are definitely very much still on Facebook for a large portion of their day, even extroverted and outdoorsy individuals.

I tried the author's method of using phone and text but did not have the encouraging results he did.

I'm also really sick of having my absence of a Facebook be commented on by all sorts of people.

All in all, I'm starting to regret my choice and despite the warnings of the author (all of which I was already assuming to be going on behind the scenes as I always judged Facebook to be untrustworthy).


you are unlikely to make more than a handful of "true" friends. as long as those are kept, what remains of the tens or hundreds of "friends" in Facebook is no more than a passing aquaintance, and they do not add much, if any, your life by reading their feeds or comments (any more than comments on HN).


I can confidently say based on what I observed that I in all likelihood missed out on forming a number of strong friendships due to not having facebook, as I was able to compare the before and after in very similar environments. I would say it becomes much less crucial after university, but during that period it affects a whole lot.

Light acquaintances are actually a boon when travelling or trying new things. Facebook makes it quite straightforward to tap this resource, and surprisingly people are quite receptive to being called up by semi-distant people.


One thing you miss if you only interact with "true" friends is a diversity of opinion. People online often complain about that crazy uncle who posts birther nonsense, but it is important to keep in mind that those people exist and if you want to know them you have to understand where they are coming from. If you don't, they will blindside you when you meet them or people like them in real life.

It's too easy these days to construct echo chambers to live in and discover only too late that you have drifted out into the fringes without ever realizing it.

This is one of the most surprising things about the Internet IMHO. I had thought for a long time that all of the conversation online would bring people together in shared understanding. Now I realize that it has more effectively allowed people to segregate themselves into like minded groups. In the old days there was only one or two big news stations and maybe a couple of local papers where people got their news and opinions. Sometimes the newsmen would say things that conflicted with your worldview and maybe on a rare occasion make you reconsider. Now you can customize the message to only ever hear what you want.

Social media can fight this a bit, if only because you don't get to choose your family and people notice if you selectively ignore them.


i thought social media is the exact echo chambers you speak - where people post one liners, fake news, and no diversity of opinion. After all, if you don't like someone's feed because their views are so different or so contrary to your own, you'd just stop their posts from appearing!


It's not possible to predict who is going to change from being a passing acquaintance to a meaningful long-term friend.


Delete timeline for me:

- Delete account

- 1st week, open facebook tab close facebook tab.

- 2nd week, visit facebook once a day by accident don't login

- 3rd week, visit facebook once a week, don't login

- 4th week, stop visiting altogether

It's been about 6 months now without an account and my wife and I are really happy about no longer have it. Try it!


It's been since 2009 since I deleted my Facebook account, and my timeline was roughly like yours for weeks 1-4. Then:

- 2nd year, wonder if I should get back on to 'stay in touch.'

- 3rd-5th year, never think about it

- 6th year, wonder if I should get on Facebook so my family can see pictures of my kids. But, my wife does Instagram.

- 8th year, smug comment on HN to show how long I've been off Facebook :).


> wonder if I should get on Facebook so my family can see pictures of my kids

I had a realization: those who really want to see photos of my kids will simply ask me for them so i never posted their photos (pull not push)...so far, about four people have asked which made me very happy that someone is really interested in seeing them and also that my kids didn't become a source of nuisance for many others.


Been off FB for years. For kids photos, I setup an "announcement-only" mailman list on my VPS for family, and routinely email photos to members, with a footer requesting they not be re-shared without permission.

As a result I share fewer photos, but the ones I do share are precious and well-received.


I convinced my family to install telegram and we set up a telegram group to share baby photos and news. It works very well for us


FYI - my parents refused to join Facebook, so they started a Cluster account. I have no idea and the privacy and stuff for that, but it works for them.


I never did delete my account, but I access it maybe once a year. Whenever I hear that someone I had friended had something happen, such as a death in the family or a marriage, I'll log in once to post a message, maybe once or twice more to see if there are any responses, and then log out again and go take a long shower. I'm like the Lone Ranger riding in when needed and then riding off into the sunset when done.

In between, I keep my privacy shields up and relegate all the FB notifications to the trash. There is only so much social interaction I can handle at a time anyway.


You do know Instagram is owned by Facebook right?


First of all, I love that this prompted you to create an account. The author of the parent comment might not care as much if it is on Instagram, because one doesn't give away just as much information there, compared to facebook; and there's no equivalent to the "Like" button that tracks you across third-party websites.


Actually the comment was first posted by a non-green account, then removed and the same comment was posted by this green account.


It's the same company, they own all the domains. If you're using Instagram than FB knows who you are.


Creating that throwaway account was a genuinely good idea...


I can beat your smug comment! I've never had Facebook at all. :D


I never had Facebook. Ha!


Off since, I don't remember--roughly 2011.

1. Did not delete my account, an attempt to guard against someone impersonating me there.

2. Deleted all content I had stored there. Obviously I don't believe FB actually deleted it, but I figured their soft delete is as good as it will get.

3. Asked all FB friends to kindly ignore my account, not to tag me or post pictures of me, and that if they saw activity from my account they can be assured it was not from me.

It did not bother me at all not being on Facebook, and still does not. There seem to be no drawbacks whatsoever. When I read about people feeling that their lives would be ruined and that they have no social life without FB, I kind of just shake my head.


Here's a lil stressful method to wean yourself off Facebook. It's what I did.

Use the settings / notification tab to disable certain notification type. E.g.:

* Some one tagged you

* comments on a discussion you liked, commented...

* who viewed your page

* who shared a link....

Eventually, Facebook ignores some of these settings in a desperate attempt to bring you back.

So create email filters to delete Facebook notifications based on certain keywords.

Also use an extension to block those fun / addicting autoplaying videos.


Gosh, that sounds an awfully lot like ending a nasty drug habit:

- Quit smoking.

- 1st week, light up a cigarette in a stressful situation, enjoy it...

- 2nd week, light up a cigarette and immediateley regret it...

- 3rd week, wonder why you still have this package of ciggis at home (and the inner schweinehund responding: they are for emergency situations, EMERGENCY IS NOW!!!)

- 4th week, throw away the "emergency"-package, lighters and ashtrays, just to be sure...

No shit, I never used facebook, but it seems like it has a similiar addiction-potency as nicotine (wich is quite high).


Emotions are another source of chemical messengers. Lots of things can be, to varying degrees.

Humans are social animals, even those of us that /usually/ prefer to be private.


I'm going on 8 months now and I don't miss it at all. My real life interactions have been so much more rewarding, too.


For me, these are the biggest concerns that motivate me to consider deleting my account (which I don't use actively, only occasionally):

- Facebooks creates false endorsements for products from you to your friends without revealing this to you.

- Facebook filters out your posts based on whether or not people will use Facebook more if they don’t see it.

I don't mind/can put up with the rest, but those two things really bug me.

But my concern is that there are some people I would lose the ability to contact if I delete my fb. Maybe I should ask those people for their email, etc., then proceed.


> Facebooks creates false endorsements for products from you to your friends without revealing this to you.

Not sure anything guarantees they'll stop doing this after you delete your account.. They knew your name before you created it, and they'll know it after you close it.


That's a good point, which further motivates the desire not to have an account or do anything to support the product.

While there are no guarantees, it still helps a little, since your endorsements are less likely to appear as genuine to those who know you're not on Facebook.


You can't delete your account. You can disable it, and the moment you log back it, it's as if you have never left.


You definitely can:

https://www.facebook.com/help/250563911970368?helpref=hc_glo...

There used to be a two week period where it worked as you described, not sure if it's still in place.


You can delete your account... I had one that I requested deleted back in 2009, and then had "reason" to get back on, and when I created my new account my prior data from 2009- was not there.


You can remove it from public view and remove your ability to log into it, but you can't remove any data. Facebook was never designed to "delete" that data, hence all you can really do is permanently disable your account, with the illusion of having it deleted.


Doesn't imply that they deleted your node from the graph, only that you created a new one that might have gotten linked to the first ("disabled") one.


Can't you export your contacts? Most of them come with the email too.


Unfortunately, none of my friends and family members who are on Facebook really care, and the reasons cited in this article aren't going to sway them. They don't take privacy seriously, and view people who worry about privacy as paranoid kooks.

They also see Facebook as the way to stay in touch with their own friends and family, and that's probably the biggest draw to staying on. Until that changes, I don't see them leaving.


I too find it very difficult to dissuade people away from FB or to convince people about the value of privacy and why it's important for us as a society to function better and retain more freedom. Almost everyone I know values what FB offers them, and don't care much about how we all are paying for it.


> and view people who worry about privacy as paranoid kooks.

Or Luddites, or perverts, or criminals, etcetera…


"Addiction: (noun) Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences."

I would get my family off of Facebook because they cannot stop using it even though it makes them feel bad after being on it. That's reason enough for me.


I feel like I have been lucky to have not been peer pressured into Facebook because of the brain chemistry aspect. I also avoided class A drugs which have had a similar availablity level - there if you insist, seemingly in general circulation.

Obviously a heroin addiction would not be what you want in life, I am thinking that constant checking in to Facebook is in a similar league of must avoid.


I used to work for a social network. We had meetings every day about how to "engage the users' dopamine systems." As a psychologist, this was an anathema to me - we call that process addiction.

Check out Lyra instead (www.hellolyra.com), it's a conversation service that requests language and attention. We are also a nonprofit and solicit no investment.


This is as good a time as any to remind everyone to install EFF's Privacy Badger https://www.eff.org/privacybadger


I have a question regarding this: "tracking everything you read on the internet"

I recently disabled third party cookies in Chrome and it's had no negative effect. Can someone tell me if this will block the Facebook code that's embedded in nearly every web page from reading my Facebook cookie and identifying me?


A better and more holistic approach, IMO, which I use with Firefox (sorry, I don't use Chrome as often, and in my limited experience I haven't seen it having as many extensions), is to use FB with these browser extensions:

1. Privacy Badger (from EFF)

2. Clean Links (removes all the redirect links from several sites, including FB)

3. Self-Destructing Cookies (destroys cookies when tabs of a particular site are all closed; default time to delete after tab closure is 10 seconds, which I reduce on my installations)

4. uBlock Origin (blocks ads and trackers)

5. BetterPrivacy (deletes "super-cookies" from things like Flash)

I don't use Ghostery because its business model depends on advertisers. Same goes for Adblock and its cousins too.

Even with all of the above, FB may still be able to track because there are many ways apart from cookies to do it. There could be browser fingerprinting [1] using various other indicators.

[1]: https://panopticlick.eff.org/


No it only blocks cookies, but not the javascript code from facebook that gets loaded on the pages you visit. If you want to get rid of that, install a browser plugin like Ghostery (0).

0: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ghostery/mlomiejdf...


Or privacy badger, from the EFF (0)

0:https://www.eff.org/privacybadger


I also use a hosts file block to avoid tracking: https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts


But wait... can they still identify you that way? I'm not on facebook, so maybe it's moot in my case. But are you saying that blocking third-party cookies is not enough to keep facebook from tracking your other browsing activity?


Technically Facebook can by using the requests your browser sends for their ubiquitous sharing widgets on many websites. Your browser very probably has a unique fingerprint¹, so you might want to block those widgets as well (Privacy Badger does this).

Because Facebook's profits come from advertising and that understanding our browser habits is a requirement for their core business, it is not too far-fetched to believe that they track non-users as well.

1: https://panopticlick.eff.org/


Every time you go to a website with the Facebook like button, they see your IP address and the website you're on. Go to enough websites from that IP address and they can get a good idea of what you like. In addition, it is very easy to get your real address from your IP address, or at least your general area. Combining these gives them a good idea of who you are.


I use the Disconnect-plugin[0] for these concerns. It disables loading (and executing) javascript, cookies and graphics from the most notorious tracking sites.

[0]: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/disconnect/jeoacaf...


All the other things everyone else here said plus: Quick Javascript Switcher (Chrome) or equivalent in FF. They can't track you if they can't run their Javascript (and you don't request pages from them or their friends). You can turn it on for domains you need it on. I truly wish this was the default state of browsers and that it had a counter of lines of JS blocked. I'd probably be in the billions easily by now.


Are people really concerned of privacy, or just witch hunt against some companies? Bigger privacy threats I see are always tracking, always listening device we keep in pocket, which sends it all to cloud. Still I see know serious effort to mitigate that, efforts by like of Firefox/Ubuntu are dissed as distractions.

Developers on HN regularly proclaim wonders of Chromebook/Google Docs without any corresponding rhetoric about privacy.


Regarding this question about a "witch hunt". What would a legitimate objection to an institutional practice look like?

Would it not be a witch hunt against Google if people here complained about Google Docs? Would it not be a witch hunt against facebook if people here also complained about Google Docs?

I'm putting "witch hunt" on my list of stop words. I don't see the phrase being used in utterances that move a discussion forwards.


Back in 2013, I decided to delete my account because was spending more than 8 hours per day on it (mostly on groups and managing pages for fun).

Back then there was no option to remove it - the only option was to convert it to a page with the mention that all your friends will become page likes. Then you will lose all your content posted (statuses, pictures, messages, etc). It was written red on white as a warning prevention. They said it was not possible to revert back.

Id did that, and the next day I felt so good afterwards. No guilt or fear of missing stuff. There were other means to stay in contact with people.

Forward two years later I wanted facebook back because I moved to another country.

I searched if there is an option to recover an old profile, and it was (even before they explicitly said there is none, and all your data is lost). I got back all that I've posted, only friends I needed to add back manually.

Now I use news feed eradicator and I don't see anything. Also, I don't have that urge to scroll feeds anymore. Basically, I wanted only messenger, but back then there was no such option.


This browser extension changed my life for the better:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/kill-fb-feed/

I like Facebook, it serves a lot of good roles in my life (including my job) so I can't just quit and/or block Facebook. But I was spending pointless hours a day reading my news feed, disgusted with my own lack of productivity.

This extension kills the home page feed, but nothing else.

I still have access to messages, profiles, events, invites, etc. I can still find everything I search for if I seek it out, only difference is it's not drip-fed into my eyeballs with an endless scroll.

My productivity (and happiness) immediately took a step up.


For what it's worth, you can now deactivate your Facebook, but maintain Messenger. It's what I've done in the interim while I figure out how much of Facebook I actually want.


For those interested in archiving their FB content, note that FB's download tool supplies only a subset of the content available in the activity log (namely only the content linked to your timeline). I've been working on a sustainable way to export all activity log content and will post updates here: https://github.com/IonicaBizau/reset-your-facebook-account/i...


Your current script name seems to imply that it only helps delete everything one has posted/shared. But you mention exporting as well. Is it going to be anywhere close to the paid/subscription product digi.me [1], except for not being in a proprietary format? Digi.me allows export of one's content from groups and pages too.

[1]: https://www.digi.me/


I didn't create the original scripts, which are indeed focused on content deletion. Having fumbled around with various possibilities for the last week or so, I'd guess that the most robust solution to data export from FB would require use of a scraper to extract individual items from the activity log. Ideally that scraper would also visit and clone referent posts (i.e. if I once commented on a post, also save the post itself).

My best partial solution thus far has involved programmatically expanding the entirety of the mobile activity log and using Chrome's 'Save Page As.' I've written Python code to then replace all links to images in the HTML with locally stored copies that I obtain using FB's Graph API.

I'm not familiar with what digi.me offers specifically. Moving data from one closed ecosystem to another doesn't seem especially desirable. I would gladly participate in an open source effort to automate FB data export--scraping, alas, isn't my forté.


Scraping pages has limitations, and may also be prohibited/banned on the platform depending on how it's done (there are some Terms of Use and permission request forms to fill in if scraping is done by programs - I'm not sure if it applies to all kinds of scrapers, including personal ones).

The way digi.me and other similar solutions work is by getting the user to authorize the app and use that authorization with the Facebook APIs to retrieve content. It'd be faster than page scraping, and likely less intrusive (guessing here) on Facebooks Terms of Use.


Yeah, I'd like if there were a straightforward way to access the same content via the API, and perhaps this is possible. I was unsuccessful. I'd made an attempt to grab all photos I've ever been tagged in, which I was able to accomplish using the approach I described in my last comment, solely through the API, but was only able to access those photos currently on my timeline (a much smaller set).

My suspicion is that services like digi.me similarly won't have access to anything beyond the timeline. Have you used digi.me?


I have used it more than a year ago, at which time it was restricted to timeline and pages. It has since added exporting content from groups (and probably others). Basically anything allowed by the Facebook APIs is what it aims to support. The downside is that it stores it in its own proprietary database and needs a subscription to continue to use it (though it's quite cheap, and I certainly wouldn't put the price as a factor against it).


Queue the onslaught of "I haven't used Facebook in.... years!" comments. You're probably already hitting the down-vote button.

I wonder why there's so much anti-fb commentary on HN? Maybe it has to do with the software engineers tending to be less social and introverted, therefore a social service appears to have less worth? Just speculating.

As for me, Facebook creates an emotional connection unlike any other service out there. I get to see my friends kids grow up, comfort lost friends when they lose a parent, share with my family when something great has happened. It's absolutely amazing and there's nothing out there that comes close to its reach.

If Facebook were suddenly gone tomorrow, I would feel devastated (so many memories of my kids, deceased father, mom, all would be gone). The only other sites that would provoke a similar emotional response from me would probably be Google and maybe Github.


    > I wonder why there's so much anti-fb commentary on HN?
Well, for starters, the article posted went through many reasons why one might find Facebook hostile, and therefore be very much against it. Anyways, that's not really why I wanted to reply, so here:

    > As for me, Facebook creates an emotional connection unlike
    > any other service out there. I get to see my friends kids 
    > grow up, comfort lost friends when they lose a parent, share
    > with my family when something great has happened. It's 
    > absolutely amazing and there's nothing out there that comes 
    > close to its reach.
    > 
    > If Facebook were suddenly gone tomorrow, I would feel 
    > devastated (so many memories of my kids, deceased father, mom,
    > all would be gone). The only other sites that would provoke
    > a similar emotional response from me would probably be Google
    > and maybe Github.
Now, this is HN so I imagine while I'll come off as very negative, this sentiment isn't all that strange. The problem I see here is that you seem to think you need Facebook to have these same connections. If you want to reminisce on old photos, you can just as easily save them locally. If you wanted to have conversations and save them later, you could use a messenger that isn't trying to mine your data while pulling your heart strings. And yeah, a lot of this type of advice comes off as "there's another product for everything," and "don't put your eggs in one basket," and all that, but there's actually a really strong point here that you're overlooking.

Facebook isn't necessary for any of those experiences. In fact, you state how you wouldn't be able to see your friend's kids grow up, or comfort your friends when they lose someone they love. But was Facebook really the only way for you to do that? It seems to me like you're attributing to Facebook quite a few characteristics that aren't really there. Ditching Facebook and actually meeting with people or staying in touch with the occasional phone call is a hell of a lot more personal. As for all of your memories, fortunately you still have those in your brain. They don't need to be in an advertising archive to be more real.


"If Facebook were suddenly gone tomorrow, I would feel devastated (so many memories of my kids, deceased father, mom, all would be gone). The only other sites that would provoke a similar emotional response from me would probably be Google and maybe Github."

Hey! What are the odds you and some other user commenting here both have such similar experiences?! You should connect with them on Facebook! Maybe Github?


I don't care at all whether people want to sell their lives to a company. If they want to use Facebook, they're free to do so.

What I care about is Facebook creating a shadow profile on me, even when I explicitly go out of my way to block them.

If it would only affect those people that are on Facebook, I wouldn't give it a second thought. But it doesn't. It also affects those that want nothing to do with it, in part through the people that are using it, and that is the major reason for all the Facebook hate.


I share your concerns about losing Facebook data of the past, but frankly you didn't address any of the concerns that were listed in the article.

The issue is what they do with our data and whether you'd be comfortable letting them use your data this way. It's also due to their shady practices like not disclosing changes to privacy policy. This is especially worse with non-technical people like my mom using their platform. Who knows what kind of bs they're peddling onto her wall.

I think it's awesome that people are finding ways to get off Facebook. It's like getting out of a heroine addiction or something:)


>didn't address any of the concerns that were listed in the article. ..

>The issue is what they do with our data and whether you'd be comfortable letting them use your data this way

I believe that I have addressed these issues by still utilizing the service.

They're well known to the HN community. They're not new. They just don't matter to me. Nor to most of the rest of the market, because billions still use it.


That's totally fine, as long as you are aware of the problem and decide that it doesn't matter to you. But they have the moral(legal?) obligation to let us know how they're using our data.


Do you mind if I word for word quote your above to see if I get downvoted too? I want to repost with just the last two paragraphs to see what happens. I'm curious how this post would have been received without the intro.


Heh, must be a divisive comment. The points are just oscillating between a positive [2] and negative [2] range..


I think only the first two paragraphs are controversial, I am sitting at 9 points on my post (which is the exact same) but someone else may have upvoted, or someone who saw this might have upvoted. IDK but it's an interesting experiment.


Agree, great experiment. Thanks for sharing the point total.


31 points as of 10 PST. Very interesting. I may do this more in the future and write something about it, I appreciate your help!


Copy/Paste away! :)


Ha thanks, I just want to see if people are just AntiFacebook or not because reading your post the third and fourth paragraph really resonated.


i'm extroverted and the only facebook product that i interact with regularly is messenger. i use it because my family uses it. i treat my wall (and instagram profile) as write only. i don't get notifications or interact with anyone, but i do post.

facebook has its uses (i've had acquaintances reach out for help in the past), so i keep the account, but i have better ways of connecting to the people i love. weak connections are meh imo

i use instragram because i like their mobile photo editing tools, but i'm sure i can find a suitable alternative. i'd prefer to publish them somewhere where i can easily (and obviously) include the cc-by-sa license info.

honestly, i get very little out of these products. there's no way i can care intimately about 500 people. the people i do care about are the ones that i keep in touch with on snapchat or via sms/im. discussions are often overly emotional and barely stimulating. reddit was better for a while, but i spend most of my online time on gnu/social these days.

i would be super happy if facebook, google, and github burnt to the ground. there are better, decentralized and non-corporate options out there that provide adequate service and are actually aligned with my interests.


A good number of people I know have left facebook for everything but the events. Its still the one central location where pretty much everybody is.

I would love nothing more than a standalone events app that not only had future events, but a, 'hey, I'm at %location%, anyone want to meet up?' that allowed for multiple degrees of social interaction --- e.g. just friends, anybody.


This is the primary reason I use it. It annoys my girlfriend (who posts regularly) that I don't read what she posts (sometimes I do, but that leads to a time sink when I see everything else I've "got" to read). 99% of my use is to post event announcements, and respond to event invites from friends.

If I could trust people to properly respond to emailed invites, I would, but most people I know have 1k+ unread emails. They'll never notice it. FB replaced my email+SMS+(various messaging app) approach from before, but caught almost all my intended audience in one place. There may be other services I could use, but people would have to create yet another account, which isn't likely.


I don't know how people can live with an inbox like that. I'd go crazy.

I first started leaving Facebook when my feed was consumed with children and lovey-dovey posts. That's cute and all, but I can only handle so much of that (let's round up to one per month...)

Down the road, if things start going south for Facebook, I wouldn't be surprised if they broke off the events into a separate app.


> It annoys my girlfriend (who posts regularly) that I don't read what she posts (sometimes I do, but that leads to a time sink when I see everything else I've "got" to read).

This sounds batshit crazy to me.

Honestly if my partner expected that of me and used it as a reason to be upset with me I'd be thinking of ending the relationship.


I take a facebook "sabbatical" every couple of years where I delete my account completely and permanently, and then come back with a brand new account a few months later. It irritates my friends but I love it.


Why? I've turned my account off before in attempt to walk away... Curious why you would set out to do that as an policy. Why not just turn notifications off and share little to avoid cacheing of data?


For me it's a self control thing. If I just deactivate, I know I can go back at any time, and then I do. For permanent deletion, you have to remain logged off for two weeks, and then you're done. The time constraint helps me.

Why do I do it at all? Being off Facebook is good for my mental health-- this is the main reason. Privacy reasons are secondary but also important. I've posted some really stupid stuff in 2004 that I'm glad is (theoretically!) stricken from the record.


Why did you go back?


I go back because I derive enjoyment from sharing with my family who I don't see as often as I'd like. I have kids and they do amazing things (amazing meaning boring average things every kid does) and I want to show someone. FB is best way I know how to do that.


Aren't they preserving your deleted data? They could link your new accounts with your old data internally


Accroding to FB help:

"When you delete your account, people won't be able to see it on Facebook. It may take up to 90 days from the beginning of the deletion process to delete all of the things you've posted, like your photos, status updates or other data stored in backup systems. While we are deleting this information, it is inaccessible to other people using Facebook."

https://www.facebook.com/help/224562897555674


That doesn't answer the question as to whether they are still using the data internally.


I would imagine that they are either deleting it entirely internally or selectively deleting the data entirely in localities where the law requires them to do so. So far, only the EU has strict regulations requiring businesses to comply with valid requests to delete personal information. (EU GDPR)

From a Facebook-makes-money-from-retaining-user-data perspective, I would imagine they are making every effort to ensure they're permanently deleting user data only where legally compelled to do so.


'Deleting' seems pretty clearly to convey that they do not retain that info, for any purpose. (IANAL?)


It mentions deleting data stored in backup systems so I'm interpreting that as the data goes away.


The easier way is for FB to wait until the GP friends the friends, and with some or many of them having already synced their contacts/address book with FB, tie the GP back to the old ("deleted") identity using the phone number. This is a simplistic explanation, but there are more ways to identify people based on the name and other attributes one's "friends" upload on to FB.

In effect, what the GP does in no way helps provide more privacy from FB for the GP.


I've done this a few times too. Facebook still knows who I am even though I sign up with different email addresses. I do have an account right now but I only really use it to authenticate on third party sites.

It's interesting to me that my friends ask did you see my X post on FB instead of telling me about things in their life.


> Facebook still knows who I am even though I sign up with different email addresses.

Do you have some evidence for this or just presuming?


Recently I had bought my mother her first smartphone to help being her into the twentieth century (she never had the mental or financial capacity to do it herself). I decided to sign her up for Facebook, and as I was going through some of the TOS, I started feeling dirty; I felt like I was giving away my own mother's privacy to Facebook for their profit. Not that I fully grasp the impact either, but she will never even begin to understand the damage I've done by simply putting that app on her phone. Quite frankly, I have disgusted myself.


Thing is, my social life isn't restricted to "loved ones". I just want a way to connect online with anyone I might bump into in the real world. I hate the fb ux and how it breaks the web in so many ways, but currently there isn't anything else that comes close. Taking my ball and going home is not an option. I wish there was some way to force them to make a decent API that allows you to do everything that can be done via the web or the app.


Shadow Profiles: shouldn't they be disallowed/illegal?

The fact that I am not on facebook, means that I am not even covered by the privacy of their ToS.

Anyone who knows me, ends up exposing my information and privacy, which I have not consented to.

How does that make sense? The only way I can deal with this intrusion, is to open myself up further and get on Facebook?

I'm unsure how to parse the rights and restrictions here


Good read, and missed out the shenanigans of Cambridge Analytica. This is a company owned by Robert Mercer, and claims to have influenced the Brexit referendum and Trump election. It did this (or claims to) through personality profiling using facebook likes (see Michal Kosinski for further reading). With personality profiling you can be microtargeted with fake news that matches you confirmation bias. Accurate microtargeting a known confirmation bias is effective for many reasons. It bypasses the person's critical faculties. That's the nature of a confirmation bias. It also bypasses social critical scrutiny. It's aimed at you, no-one else, so the chance of someone else calling is lowered. And yes, you may redistribute the fake news thereby opening debate, but that will be into your social group, a like minded echo chamber that will ruminate and magnify the effect.

Did this happen? Who knows. The evidence is ephemeral, no paper trail to prove or disprove. Which is another scary thing about facebook. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/how-our-likes-hel...


One of the more worrisome aspects of the FB is how it was used by the Russian trolls to influence the presidential election.

http://mashable.com/2017/03/30/russian-trolls-fake-news/#LDb...

It's not exactly Facebook that is doing it, it's that a set of smart external actors can use the data from fb advertising services to spread propaganda with unprecedented granularity. And to make it even scarier, there's no public record of what was shown to whom, and it can be run by smart actors in a completely anonymous fashion.

I feel we have gotten to a point where there's a direct threat to the fundamental concept of a free democracy from the fb platform.


A while back I purged my Facebook account of all content. This was a long and tedious process, deleting things one-at-a-time, as there appears to be no way to do this in bulk. My account is now a blank page, no photos, tags, profile information, likes, etc. All they have is my name and birthdate (and that is set to hidden). I imagine Facebook hasn't actually deleted anything, but no one else, at least, can see anything.

I wish I could entirely close my account, but unfortunately there are too many people who only use Facebook to contact me, and there are a few groups that I need to participate in.

As for the apps: On iOS, at least, you can turn off location services and access to your contacts. Everything still works just fine.


I'm surprised to be the only one to point out that many of the examples the author uses are misleading.

"Facebook is impersonating you to post things!" -> Facebook clumsily attaches an advertisement to a post with a prominent Related Post header.

"Facebook selling your data to Mastercard!" -> anonymized data is being sold to Mastercard to understand browsing habits and interests.

"Facebook buries posts that it doesn't like so your friends don't see them" -> The News Feed is a compilation of the most popular items of your friends postings; all shared items are available by looking at a friend's page.

"Facebook influenced the 2016 election because it only showed news that was in each users' bubble" -> The little-used Trending Topics section showed news that a given user was likely to want to click. Most users just click on what their friends post. If they're in a bubble, it's because they don't have friends outside of it.

"Facebook gives direct access to the NSA via Prism" -> Facebook receives a National Security Letter and then is forced to give the information to the government.

At least 2 of the most outrageous claims (insurance companies getting Facebook data, Facebook teaming up with data brokers) lead to broken links. Other evidence is on forbes.com/sites, which is not far off from Medium in terms of oversight.

There are some good points. The issue of Facebook's adding the @facebook.com email address as the default (and in some cases deleting the contact's existing email) was a hugely unethical and unpopular thing to do. Many of the future risks the author mentions are realistic and damaging to privacy and personal liberty. Also, looking at idealized pictures of friends' lives can cause feelings of envy and inadequacy. Not to mention the near-constant outrage effect of sensational news being shared.

The author has some good points about the potential future risks of being on Facebook. And some excellent suggestions on how to mitigate it, especially the anti-web tracking tips. Why water it down with deception? It serves only to weaken the argument.


To offer a counterpoint, I don't find those deceptive at all - your depiction is the one that sounds too forgiving and downplays the real impact.

Also, "anonymised" data just doesn't have your name attached to it, but can still be a very detailed personal profile. All it takes is one link between your identity and that data to de-anonymise it.


In that case, is it properly anonymized? It's just lip service then. Lip service is enough to be in breach of contract with the end users.

Also: you don't feel deceived by having at least two claims to be completely unsubstantiated (the broken links)? You don't feel deceived when someone tells you a truth that implies a completely different conclusion because they omitted a crucial detail?


Get your loved ones on Lyra instead. Lyra is an open conversation service which respects language, puts the user in control, and is designed with harrassment protection in mind.

We're a nonprofit and don't accept investment.


What's Lyra? I just see a website that looks like a social media marketing agency.


Please see www.hellolyra.com


It looks beautiful! It reminds me of Gingko (https://gingkoapp.com) and Pinboard.

How are you guys going to make money? I understand it's a non-profit but you're gonna still need money for servers and man-hours.


Thank you! We charge £2.99 per year ($3.80) to users in developed countries. We aim to keep access free for users in developing countries.


Awesome. Do you do photo-hosting? I could see that easily sapping away all of your money. Or is it just text?


We just do text - but we do it well. Text is both very cheap, and very expressive.


As I mentioned in a reply to a comment about another text-only platform, not allowing photos and videos will not attract many users. There will be a small niche of users, but it won't become massive without those. It'd be quite similar to web based forums and discussion platforms. I hope you can figure out how to keep the platform running while allowing non-text content.


Thanks! We're committed to only text, I'm afraid, and the platform is already sustainable :)


Becoming massive isn't one of our aims (we're a nonprofit).


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