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Facebook, You Needy Sonofabitch (bradfrost.com)
1111 points by ingve on Sept 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 387 comments

The best thing I ever did was delete the Facebook app from my phone. I had already disabled all the notifications, but that didn't change things like deleting the app. Not being able to get to Facebook wherever you are. As silly as it sounds it was liberating. I still access Facebook from my laptop - but now that it's off of my phone, I'm accessing Facebook less and less frequently and I'm find I'm happier as a result.

Less Facebook == more happy. It's the best advice I can give.

Up until last year, I chalked up the "I deleted my Facebook" phenomenon to hipsterdom or some pathology where people think the can "cure" "addiction" by quitting whatever unhealthy behavior pattern they exhibit for a week or month and then coming back.

Last month I deactivated my Facebook and have yet to turn it back on. In the months prior I started finding alternative sources of news: NYT, Pitchfork, HN, various sub-reddits, Bandcamp, what have you. I outsourced social media to Twitter and Instagram. I outsourced messaging to text/Slack. A bunch of my friends have done the similar things in the last few years.

The lower levels of cognitive dissonance are noticeable. It's not like Facebook has a monopoly on the things I hate: notification spam, stupid arguments, unfulfilling articles, and vacuous political rants all exist elsewhere. Maybe it's the dissociation between who a person is and what is posted. On Reddit you don't know the person and they don't get a big platform to express themselves outside of the comments. On Twitter you can't go on these huge rants and following/unfollowing people is fairly impersonal. On Instagram, you never get "why haven't you posted?? come back!!" notifications. And news sites do what they do best - deliver the news without some other third party getting to give their doctoral thesis on what they think it means.

As an information security person and someone that cares deeply about preserving my privacy and the privacy of my fellow citizens I see Facebook / Google / Amazon as sort of existential threats. For them to exist we can't maintain our privacy to a high degree. And as long as they maintain a network effect, even if you do delete your Facebook account, they will maintain a shadow profile of you. You will always be a node in their graph now. European privacy laws and the right to be absolutely forgotten are the answer. As a free human being I believe in the right to be completely outside of any corporations software system and record keeping. There is so much work to do on this front, look at what happened to Equifax. We don't really get a choice about some things (credit reporting), but for everything else, I am going to fight it.

I am going to fight your shitty operating system updates that take away my privacy

I am going to fight your massive personal information sucking network

I am going to use alternative shopping services, no matter how easy you make it for me to click once and have stuff I really like appear in a great user experience.

I am going to fight these things because privacy matters and in the long run without privacy as consumers and human beings with inalienable rights we will give away something essential in there.

It isn't hipsterism. It isn't being a luddite. It mass-scale experiment about how much these organizations can concentrate before people really understand.

It is being a luddite - in a good way! Don't knock the luddites, they had analogous concerns.

They didn't hate machines or novelty per se, they hated the specifics of how the machines were affecting their quality of life.

Same with facebook - networked communications might be OK (remains to be seen if you ask me), but the socio-technical-political blob that is facebook's implementation of same has side effects that lots of us find horrible.

Pedantry over.

> As an information security person and someone that cares deeply about preserving my privacy and the privacy of my fellow citizens I see Facebook / Google / Amazon as sort of existential threats. For them to exist we can't maintain our privacy to a high degree.

Seriously, if I could upvote you several times, I would! You just said everything I believe in, including naming the corporations that worry me the most and make me feel hopeless sometimes. I try to educate people at every opportunity, fully knowing that it will take a long time for any effect to be visible. But I'm kinda used to that as an activist in other areas.

I don't know if there will ever be a decentralized and privacy protecting social networking platform that will beat Facebook and the like (pun unintended) in network effect, but I'd be ecstatic to see such a day! On the same lines would be reducing data collection almost everywhere and ensuring that privacy comes first - by governments or private entities. I have very little hope on the latter because information security is truly an afterthought in our Internet connected world where anyone can spin up WordPress, add some random plugins and start a "gig economy" or whatever the fad of the day is. It's too easy to start something software based that is completely insecure!

Facebook encourages a lower level of discourse than other message systems, somehow.

I participate in a couple of groups which have come to replace older forums running PHPbb or VBulletin type software. While the old style forums offer too many features and almost excessive permanence for discussions, Facebook offers too little in that regard.

Conversations are not meant to be searchable, archived, permanent, or long or detailed. Unlike VBulletin, where it's easy to find a post you saw 3 days ago or all the posts you've made in a forum, on Facebook everything effectively disappears after a week or two. The content is still there, just very disorganized and difficult to access. Search is inconsistent and very basic for groups.

Most significant is the impact this has on the discussions that take place. On the old forums, posting seemed like a bigger deal and people rarely posted one word responses or sentence fragments. The FB format seems to encourage that. Long, detailed responses about technical matters are difficult to post and read, so people don't post them as often. Discussions are often repeated because nobody can really find the last one to link to it.

This - I think this also extends to the conversations people have 'on' facebook - even with friends. You end up liking or saying 'cool' to a post, but you don't really have any real interaction. Since I've left facebook (nearly 9 months sober) I've probably talked with fewer friends, but those friends I have spoken to, I've spoken to on a far deeper level. and many of them I now actually _speak_ to more often.

Uninstalling messenger was hard at first, as some people I don't have a number for or they aren't on Whatsapp, but you either find other ways to keep in touch, or you realise that you were actually just on the periphery of each others lives, and liking that they got a new car or similar didn't actually have a positive impact on each others lives. And when you do meet again, you'll have a bunch to talk about.

I've debated making a 'fake' account for facebook groups (esp local sales groups, which seem far better served on fb in my area) but so far I've come the the conclusion that I don't really need to buy more crap from strangers - I have enough of my own already.

What I did was pare down Facebook to the bare essentials. The only people I have on it are actual would-invite-into-my-home friends, the only pages I follow are for concert venues and bands I like, and I block and turn off every single stupid "joke" page, app and game I see.

Now I basically only get posts directly written by my friends, event notifications for concerts, and updates from my favorite bands.

I don't use Facebook for news, I don't engage in political discussions or stupid arguments. I guess I use Facebook for what its original intended purpose, to keep in touch with friends.

Yea I'm not sure why this isn't a more popular option. I do an even less-impactful version of this: I've disabled the Newsfeed (on web), and I've pared down mobile and email notifications to only things that are likely to matter to me like event invites (my friend group uses FB events for pretty much everything, including logistical events for our Burning Man camp).

The main advantage to me is still that it's an easy and stable way to discover and communicate with people I know in real life: there's still nothing that beats the ease of finding someone on Facebook after meeting them, and I very often forget to exchange info with someone in these situations (esp if I've met a lot of cool people that night).

The company itself has been sleazy from day one, and I think they're largely to blame for the trend of fuck-the-user product design[1] in the last ~5 years. But putting a firewall around what I let them do to my devices and my life and taking advantage of what value they do provide has proven really fruitful for me.

[1] There are plenty of things that used to be deal-breakers for me, like spamming the notification bar to increase engagement: companies like Google held out for a long time against this, but Facebook led the charge into making it ubiquitous and now the new equilibrium is that most large apps do it (even @#$%ing Google Maps!)

You can still use Facebook Messenger with a deactivated Facebook account in case you didn't know

When you deactivate your Facebook, can you still use it to log into stuff (e.g. Tinder and Messenger)? I've a few friends and groups that are on that.

I used Spotify with my Facebook account. When I deactivated the FB account and logged into Spotify, it reactivated the FB account automatically.

I had to create another standalone Spotify account and contact their support to migrate everything from the FB connected account to the new one, otherwise it would keep reactivating the FB account.

You can still use messenger, and I still do because I don't want to stonewall people who only have me on there. I have to say though, it's a god awful UX. The other day I even had an advertisement for Spotify pop up in my messages with a close friend. What the fuck is that?


For third-party app logins I use a friendless FB account under a pseudonym.

FB still knows it's you.

Sure, that's the cost of doing anything with FB. A pseudonym is used to avoid nosy third parties, not Facebook itself.

Less pressure to expose one's self to the psychological pathogen that is the Facebook Timeline.

Wait, Bandcamp is a news source?

If you're into music absolutely.

yes. a year or two ago they built out an editorial staff.

Same. I initially only uninstalled messenger (which intolerably presented me with a popup asking me to enable notifications EVERY TIME I OPENED THE APP), then got rid of the FB app. Now even on my laptop facebook.com is pointing at localhost in /etc/hosts, which makes me edit a root file to look at it. I'm much, much happier. If it works for you, cool, but if you're dissatisfied and considering abandoning it anyway, I can offer anecdotally that it has been a great decision for me.

(The only reason I don't close my account: I check it once every week or so, because I have older family members for whom this is probably as far as they're going into the world of social media and I feel a bit guilty either pressuring them to use some alternative or disconnecting from them further, as they are unlikely to understand my dissatisfaction with the FB product and much more likely to take it personally)

I installed the Lite version of Messenger, and it's way better. (Not available in the US App Store; there are verified APKs floating around the internet.) It's just a bare-bones chat app that launches when I want it, without all the nagging about chat bubbles, their Snapchat knockoff, and whatever else.

I picked up Messenger Lite when I was in Fiji. My phone isn't very good and struggled with normal Messenger.

With Messenger Lite, not only does it take a lot less space, it's a lot faster, and feels less bloaty. It's a lot like what Messenger was a few years ago, nice and simple.

I don't want to use Messenger to play games, or send giphys, or any of that other rich interaction stuff. The only thing I miss is the ability to send a pin of your location to someone, which is actually a really useful feature.

https://www.apkmirror.com/apk/facebook-2/messenger-lite/ is a reputable source for anyone who's interested.

You can also go to Facebook on Chrome and request the desktop version of the site- Messages will work in that. That way you don't have to install a Messages app.

This used to work for me but stopped a while ago on android (still seems to work on iPhones somehow). mbasic.facebook.com is a really nice fast and minimalist interface where messages still work and I use it exclusively now.

Actually it worked for me only to read messages. When I tried to reply all the characters I've entered were disappearing so only sent dash and few commas. Bizarre and that was a new low reached by fb in their push of messenger app on mobile.

Actually you don't need to use desktop version. It tries to make you install it, but if you just click back to exit Play Store, and on the FB page to prompt the installation there's a faint X that you can click. At least it works in Opera Mobile.

Interestingly if I leave the tab open I also get notifications if someone responded.

The lite version is available in the us but it still drains your battery lol just not as horrible as the main line messenger app

I am honestly wondering if there is an inside joke for tech companies attempting to make the worst possible messaging app. Facebook messenger is god awful ugly, same with snapchat. Google Hangouts is ok at best (I personally have not used Google's other dozen or so messaging apps they have)

GChat used to be great - it was simple, relatively lightweight and quick. Then it was rebranded Hangouts and became a little muddled and unwieldy for a brief period when Whatsapp was ascendent which nearly overnight caused my entire group of friends to switch.

You're right about the IM apps being not great. This and the poor state of desktop email clients on Windows and Linux are my pet hates

The desktop client was all I ever wanted in a chat app. Simple, fast, reliable. Which of course is why they killed it.

I'm sorry, but what?

I've had facebook messenger, gchat/hangouts installed on my phone for some time. I don't know if I'd call it great, but I have a hard time arguing that it doesn't immediately solve my instant messaging needs.

What exactly do you want that gchat or facebook messenger doesnt solve?

I want open chat protocols so I can use whatever client I damn well please (e.g. Adium, Pidgin, some terminal thing, or a bot made from a little python script, ...).

Whenever I’m stuck using a centralized service (Twitter, facebook, some web forum, whatever bullshit IRC replacement businesses are buying this week, ...) their client invariably does something different than what many people want it to do, but we have no recourse because everything is locked-down proprietary bullshit, even though most of the messages are plain text and could have been delivered just fine by open protocols in 1990. Not to mention these apps are all poorly designed resource hogs that spy on everyone, inject ugly ads, and burn mobile battery.

Proprietary push notifications on mobile devices are what really killed open IM protocols. What good is an open protocol, if the client app can't wake up to process it without a proprietary channel? We need to fix that mess first, somehow.

Well remember that this was a few years back so things were a lot different from today.

1. gchat (or "Google Talk" I think?) was a nice simple app that was replaced by a rebranded one that had different functionality and a UI that was either different or flakey/slow/unreliable (I forget all the details). I later learned that actually we were all duped by google - gchat itself was only turned off completely very recently, but at the time they managed to convince us that we had to use Hangouts instead. In any case, the whole thing was annoying enough that we left because ...

2. Whatsapp was starting to be very widespread and was a natural replacement for us as most people either had it or could quickly get it (you just needed a phone number and nearly any sort of phone, many feature phones support it) and it had a simple chat-only interface.

3. FB Messenger was not a separate application at the time, it was integrated in the FB app iirc and you still had to be a member of FB and add any contacts as "friends" to communicate. At the time it wasn't seen as a general-purpose chat app by _anyone_, just a way to talk to your FB contacts.

Hope that makes sense. If you're curious about the gchat->hangouts switch, I'm sure a quick search will turn up a few disgruntled articles - there were quite a few people who were annoyed. It probably didn't help that Google were in the habit of dropping products, so a few people may have assumed that they'd do the same with the chat app.

It's not that I want some additional feature, I actually want fewer features. The ability to name group chats and persist them leads people to treat them like chat rooms. The ability to send animated gifs means people send them. These apps very quickly turned from "alternative to text-messaging" to "full-blown chat room that wants push notifications each time anyone sends a message," and I don't want an app to ask me to enable notifications each time I open it.

I realize there are per-thread mute settings, but the whole experience of using these things is highly intrusive. At least with text messaging (or calling) we still have, to some extent, the social expectation that it is known to be intrusive, so people (in my social group at least) are less likely to text for frivolous reasons.

....and Microsoft' stellar success with Skype

Competition. It's just like advertising. The more your competitors advertise the more you feel you have to.

Notifications from people are fine, e.g. 'x messaged you'.

Notifications from machines are the problem, e.g. 'x just did y'.

Uninstalling the app and redirecting facebook.com to localhost are great ideas. I also sometimes logout of facebook.com on chrome on my phone so that it makes it even harder to get back on.

Now if I could only do the same for reddit...

Since we are into personal anecdotes: the annoying giant red blinking popup they display all the time to force you to download the app instead of using the mobile website was all I needed to get entirely rid of my habit to visit Reddit, and I like the idea that I might not be the only one.

reddit is not far off from facebook to being a total time suck. i'd like to just be in a couple educational/technical subs or quit entirely but that /r/popular, it just calls out to people.

This guy has been talking about it for a while, see: http://www.timewellspent.io/

Actual question: what's the point of Messenger if you don't have notifications enabled?

To communicate with other people on my terms, when I want to communicate.

It's the same reason there are only a few phone numbers that can actually make my phone ring (my wife, the school my children attend, and pager duty (:P))

My device exists for my convenience.

You can also make only some email messages cause notifications.

Not sure if there's a better way for gmail, but the way I did it was to have a second gmail account, then create filters that send only important messages to that account. Then in the gmail app you can control notifications on a per-account level.

If I remember correctly how I did this years ago, I made filters to label important messages with correct label and chose different notification (sounds at least) for those labels in gmail app.

>there are only a few phone numbers that can actually make my phone ring

Could you describe briefly how to configure that state of affairs? What OS do you use?

Android 7 (lineage/cyanogen at least) can do this.

Settings>Sound>Do Not Disturb>Priority only allows

You can limit notifications to starred contacts only for calls and also SMS, and then only star the contacts you want to allow.

In Android Do Not Disturb mode can do this. You can set it to "priority only" and define who is the priority contacts. iOS should have a similar function.

Poor man's version of this: set your ringtone to a silent MP3, then apply custom tones to those people you actually want to hear.

You put iOS in DND mode and whitelist VIPs by starring them or putting them in a contact group.

It's useful to be able to communicate with people in situations where message notifications are awkward or prohibited. (ie work)

My wife exclusively uses messenger for buying and selling stuff on Facebook. She doesn't need nor want notifications.

There's also the creepy factor. I assume if there is any kind of exploit or corner case that allows an app to abuse privilege on iOS, Facebook is scummy enough to always ship it.

In my experience, since Messenger / Hangouts / etc all support persisted, named chats, people start treating them like chatrooms rather than like text messages. I don't want notifications for a chat room (where there's a flurry of conversation that may or may not be directed at me), and in general since I work remote I try to keep the "things that make my phone buzz" list to the bare-minimum, since that list will always include "production outage" which might make me stop mid-step while heading to lunch and turn back around.

Additionally, FB messenger does not allow you to disable "read receipts," it always shows the other party when you have opened a message. Buzzing my pocket and then telling the other person I read their message feels very intrusive to me.

It's equivalent to email, but more convenient if you only know the people through facebook. E.g. I admin a facebook group, so admins have a chat to discuss group-related things.

If I don't have notifications enabled it's because I don't want to be distracted. I check my phone often enough, I don't need to immediately stop what I'm doing to read a message.

Equally. When I send a message to someone, I don't want to distract them either. Of course there's no sophistication (e.g. busy mode, notify for messages flagged urgent only) because facebook wants people to drop whatever they're doing and use facebook instead.

I have all notifications for facebook turned off and just leave messanger untouched. It doesn't nag you unless someone messages you.

I deleted it during the run-up to last year's elections, and I've been happier. Also, my phone battery lasts literally forever.

The thing with optimizing for engagement is that the numbers will tell you to do things that eventually burn out your users. The more thoughtful people leave first, and the community becomes dominated by addicts, and the news feed increasingly dominated by oversharers who spend several hours a day facebooking. That infinite slurry of crappy content rots your brain faster than watching daytime TV.

Good point about phone battery. This stuff is not 'free' for all sorts of reasons.

> Less Facebook == more happy.

There appears to be a significant negative correlation between Facebook activity and wellbeing.


The book "Contagion: Why things Catch On" by Jonah Berger basically explains that we share when we have "strong emotions" triggered. That includes anger and anxiety.

So much of social media is dependent on triggering anger or anxiety to get you to share. Which is effective political memes make you mad. Because they're designed to.

I decided that being on a platform that uses me as a transmitter of memes to make cash by making me mad or anxious was (a) sociopathic on behalf of Facebook and (b) stupid on my part. I logged out, deactivated, and deleted. I've done it before, but now it feels permanent.

I'm on twitter sometimes (because there's much less social pressure wrt following/unfollowing) and Goodreads, where I follow people who read and write the books I like to read.

Similarly simply logging out of Facebook on Chrome and only accessing it through incognito or another browser has been great. Added benefit: (a little) less tracking.

First week or so was string of surprising moments where I would suddenly find myself at the FB login screen having mindlessly tried to navigate there.

I deactivated on January 1, still find myself typing `f` in the address bar in a new tab. They've done a very good job of getting in the brain stem.

I still find that after being off Facebook for five years. Luckily the football team I hate the most has a URL that begins with f, so I started visiting that. Cured it in a week...

Let me guess, the Fnew Fengland Fpatriots?

Cleaning cookies, using browser extension like uBlock Origin, and not using facebook login via other web sites such as Yelp will help with reducing tracking.

The added friction from having to log in every time has enabled me to untrain mindless facebook browsing.

> Less Facebook == more happy

More productive, less distracted, etc., sure but was FB really getting you down that much? Am I just using Facebook "wrong" in that it's not upsetting me the same way it upsets others?

Every time I'm on FB. It's pleasant, really pleasant. But, every single time I'll go on the site and to do a thing like, check on the plans for my friend's birthday party. I end up spending like 30min or so more time than I expected to just browsing aimlessly.

It's not like they are putting a gun to my head but, they are using a billion dollars of research and my friends' faces to entice me into doing something I don't want. I'm more or less a monkey and my social circuitry just is so super-stimulated that it's annoying.

And all of that is before the FOMO kicks in and I start feeling bad that my life isn't as nice as my friends even though among my friends, I have a very enviable life (my friends have confided in me as much). But, my every day life cannot compete with the highlight reel of all the best moments of all my friends' lives.

Even though I know all of this stuff consiously, it still affects me because keeping guard and watch over everything constantly is hard. Falling into how it's designed to make you feel is easy.

Deleting FB off your phone is the best thing.

This overwhelming feeling, I'm convinced, is one of the driving factors that created Instagram and Snapchat because it was smaller and less invasive. Ironically, they became just like FB or in some ways (to some people) worse as they grew.

We are social animals and FB weaponizes the faces of all of your friends to suck as much attention from you as possible. It's as unfair a fight as there ever has been in the history of commerce.

Funny thing is that anyone with half a brain cell notices this if you just try to look at it even a bit. People are manipulable to do things they do not like to do. Yet any time there is a comment in HN stating that marketing may not be the best thing since sliced bread, there will be tons of messages of type "hey, just last week I saw an ad of an even I actually wanted to go, so there is nothing bad ever in people throwing ads at my face against my will". Weird. (And don't get me started on the whole damn "science" of economics being based on the (obviously unfalsifiable as per popper) assumption that people always and anywhere just maximize their utility.)

Think about Facebook the way you might think about alcohol. For many (if not most) people, even the occasional overindulgence isn't going to cause too much harm. But for some, it has an insidious effect and sometimes the best strategy is to simply swear it off completely.

For me, it was more like cigarette usage: "I can quit any time" I thought, even as the constant demands for my attention distracted and upset me. Recognizing how much I disliked Facebook, then quitting cold-turkey was the only way I was able to break my addiction.

I quit Facebook initially because of notification spam. However I discovered something afterwards. I had less negative feelings toward family and friends. I had unconsciously been forming an opinion of them that was based on the habits Facebook was encouraging rather than their actual personality.

In a sense I'm a lot happier not knowing that Great Aunt Gertrude shared that post. And most of the time Aunt Gertrude didn't even think about what she was sharing so the opinion wasn't based in fact.

I just never read the wall thingy. When I go to FB, it's either directly to the messenger or to facebook.com/<my username>. I really only use it for the IM. I hate how it's 2017 and it doesn't have simple things like bold* or colors, that were available in AIM/MSN/Yahoo/EveryotherMessenger before (not to mention until the early 2010s, FB message was the most unreliable piece of garbage in the world. If you used Pidgin/Audium/anything XMPP, half the time messages wouldn't get through).

I have too many friends spread across the world to ever quit FB, but I only really use it for messages. I only post things if they promote my website and pull people to my content and away from Facebook. Since that's all I do, my posts obviously don't get as much reach. It's kinda the opposite of the Silent Bob effect. You have a friend who always says crap and you ignore them. If someone says things only once a week; you pay attention when they have something to say.

Facebook basically penalizes people who only speak when they have something important to say and rewards people who cannot learn to shut the hell up.

*I realize it has bold now, but it doesn't work universally across all their tools: mobile, web, etc. I know people who just use unicode symbols for italics because it's more reliable.

To me it resembles that condo mailbox, filled with spam and colorful leaflets I know I don't need so pick them up and dump them annoyed into the trash box provided for my convenience and everyone's right next to it. Once a week I end up on Facebook for a few seconds, check to see if someone left some important message, and if not quickly leave the screaming place. For all those needy souls of relatives and acquaintances I instructed my twitter to automatically repost on facebook, which is rare but at least gives them something to feed upon.

The most important features on Facebook are hide, unfollow, and block.

having spare moments to think through your day/mood/plans, etc., makes a huge difference to someone who otherwise will ceaselessly distract themselves to avoid said thoughts.

Facebook, per se, maybe not. It could be anything that fills in the holes

People are different. Some people react badly to alcohol, some don't. Facebook depressed me, closed it years ago. Enjoy your facebook.

> Am I just using Facebook "wrong" in that it's not upsetting me the same way it upsets others?

Maybe you just don't have an accurate baseline and it's not that using Facebook upsets you but that not using it increases your well-being.

Try not using it for 2 weeks and see if you notice a difference.

Nope, you are using it the right way. Apparently it is not for everybody, but some can use it without being distracted.

No Facebook == even more happy.

I deleted my Facebook account completely last fall. It was interesting to see what happened over the period of about a month. Two weeks in my spouse's status changed from "Married to Ollie" to "Married." About three weeks in I got a notice saying my account to pay for "boosting" posts was cancelled.

My FB fanboy brother is annoyed, because if he wants to tell me something he has to make an effort.

People don't "tag" me in pictures any more. I don't have to cope with the little burst of emotional juice when somebody pushes the little thumb button on something from me or about me.

And, the fake nuz just stopped. Hooray.

“Research Links Heavy Facebook And Social Media Usage To Depression”

Do we really need researchers to tell us that prolonged heavy anything usage increases the chance of unhappiness?

have you tried prolonged book usage. Or prolonged being outdoors usage lol

Same here, no more phone app.

But I do have the basic mobile site bookmarked:


Instead of getting notifications and getting pulled into the app I can visit the site when I have downtime, or have something I actually want to accomplish on FB.

Can you change feed sorting to "most recent" algo in mbasic mode?

Thank you! I never heard of this before. Messenger even seems to work!

I have the facebook app on my phone and virtually never use it. I just really don't find myself drawn to use facebook at all. Reddit and HN on the other hand, those i'm addicted to.

Same. I keep thinking that I can rationally explain my Reddit and HN usage because they do serve some utility. But then I wonder how much I’m fooling myself with that sentiment...

I quit facebook about 5 years ago, realizing quickly there was nothing of value in seeing how fake-happy people were. You only see the highlights, so when a friend announced a divorce we, including that person's family, were surprised as the relationship had appeared so solid. This appears to be a documented reality of social media in general.

Reddit is something else, and my reddit time has taken a dive over the last year or so. It's no longer useful to me and the 'community' have become rude, antagonistic and there's always a large group on any sub, including the smaller ones, where users take a contrary argument just for the sake of appearing intelligent, which they never succeed in doing. Only thing keeping me there are the Linux subs and sometimes the hilarity of askreddit (intentional hilarity and otherwise).

For me: The best thing I ever did was delete the Facebook.

Even better, don't sign up. I'm envious of my friends who are in this category. I deleted after reading about PRISM, then got back on. Deleted again, and then moved away from some friends and got lonely and got back on again. Luckily more and more of my friends are deleting, so should be easier to take the plunge again.

I've found that since my wife and I both deactivated, we've suddenly been finding friends in new places. I invited a coworker and his family over for dinner, which was a great time. We've reconnected with some family of hers that we always thought "they're really nice people, we should get to know them better". Heck, we were at the neighborhood playground in our the other day and we invited a family over to dinner which was a lot of fun. Reconditioning myself to actually talk to people in real life has been really rewarding for me and my family. I used to have really severe anxiety, and it's scary to make that first contact, but man, it's worth it.

'Realbook' is what my friends and I jokingly refer to connecting in the real world.

Among the never signed up group. It was unappealing to begin with, and it's been increasingly unlikely as, with stories like this, I learn how much worse it's been getting.

I also find people who ask for my facebook account or try to get me to join are the same people I find least interesting and I'm less willing to spend my time with.

Same. Full deletion, and it's been amazing.

Same. This sounds drastic to people who are in the habit of Facebooking, but I still have friends and a social life and the hours of mindlessly scrolling through low-info-density posts, likes, links, and whatnot is all gone.

Honest question, what do you do for event planning? Literally the only reason I still have FB is because my friend group uses it heavily for coordinating hikes, camping trips, etc. I'd love to delete it if it weren't for that.

Like we did before. With communication and chats/sms

The 2nd best thing after uninstalling the fb app from the phone was to log out from it in my laptop's browser, make sure my password is a generated one (so I can't enter it manually) and also make sure it won't autocomplete when I go to facebook.com.

Now if I want to access it I have to open the Password Manager, copy the password and then paste it ... which are too many steps for me to take in order to check it out :)

So, in the past 1-2 months I think I spent in total 1-2 hours on facebook.

Of course you know Facebook works fine through the web browser on your phone. The app is a big bloated hunk of unnecessary.

The course is clear, you need to delete your web browser too.

I keep trying to do exactly that, the majority of my time wasted on my phone is spent in Chrome. Almost every other app I have left is a valuable unix-esque utility, like weather, radar, notes, chat, etc.

You joke about this, but my wife and I, in an effort to change our default behaviors, both put parental locks on each others phones disabling the browsers and app installs. We still had GPS and phone and text messaging. We've re-enabled it now, but it definitely unconditioned us from seeking entertainment in our phones.

I have FB on my phone and I'll check it once every couple of days, but it doesn't seem like it would be all that liberating to delete it. What makes it so liberating? FB always seems so optional that I'm never really pushed to read it. Work email on the other hand...

Agree, news Feed eradicator is my favorite chrome app too. When you go to Facebook it automatically replaces your entire newsfeed with a short quote about using your life for something better. Right now all my newsfeed says is: “Inaction will cause a man to sink into the slough of despond and vanish without a trace.” ~ Farley Mowat"

Make Hacker News Your Facebook Newsfeed


I've found my Facebook usage just going down in general over the years. Switching to the Messenger app and messenger.com on desktop to chat with friends has made it much easier not getting distracted by the newsfeed at random times. Plus, I switched off a whole bunch of notifications and email subscriptions and actually went through my 'friends' and marked most of them as acquaintances, so I mostly don't hear about them, which improved the quality of the feed immensely. In general, ignoring all Facebooks feeble attempts at engagement doesn't really seem all that difficult to me. And being able to look up "what was the address of that event I'm invited to again?" on the phone is nice, so I don't particularly want to delete the FB app either. So in short, it sounds to me like a lot of people are having a much harder time ignoring Facebook than I do - I wonder if maybe they just need to tweak a few things like I did, and they could happily co-exist without being bothered by it, or if there is something else at play too?

The step that worked for me was unfollowing everything from Facebook, so that I have a completely empty News Feed. If I want to see what's happening for a particular person, I just navigate to their profile and see directly. I've found this way, even if I have Facebook installed I very very rarely open it and if I do, I close it immediately since there's no content.

Add this for your desktop and you're set: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/news-feed-eradicat...

I use uBlock Origin for adblocking and that extension comes with ability to hide elements on a page. I use it to hide news feed. Works great.

1. Delete Facebook 2. Get banned from HN 3. Be super productive

I'm pretty much in an FB and HN dopamine loop all day.


Not sure if I'm ready to pull the trigger.

Well with HN you could just use the noprocrast mode, or I've found that editing your hosts file makes sure that you're intentionally browsing a website. I deactivated Facebook, which has surprised me because I still hear from the people I care about (My grandma was a little annoyed but now she's started emailing me). I've also discovered that checking the news once a week (or even once a month!) doesn't make me feel less informed than checking it every day.

I didn't know about noprocrast! Nice.

> Less Facebook == more happy

Nice! You're almost to nirvana. ;)

Very liberating indeed.

You could just use facebook in a browser on your phone.

Shhhh, why do you have to mention that for. You're responding to a comment that concluded "Less Facebook == more happy" with an alternate way to increase access to Facebook.

Yup. And for those rare occasions you need to use facebook messaging, use mbasic.facebook.com so that facebook doesn't "force" you to install their messenger app!

i bit the bullet and installed messenger lite. No facebook app on phone though.

Honestly, it is kind of scary how people on HN live in the no-FB bubble. I mean, FB is kind of optional for social life, but the universal "I deleted FB and am happy" does sound like echo chamber. Because Facebook DOES have advantages, even though more introverted people might not appreciate them as much. Especially regarding event organization:

I regularly organize big board game parties, which are attended by 10-15 people (out of ~40 invited). How easily can I invite / manage so many people without some platform like FB, which (almost, at least around me) everyone uses? And I really appreciate easy info / updates events on FB provide for e.g. info about how much food should I cook, telling people about changing time (or day! We just had poll on FB because people liked this sunday more than saturday) of the party, telling them what to bring . . . emails just wouldn't cut it, it would consume much more time, and would be really clunky. And on the other hand, people attending who DO NOT have FB, are PITA to manage, they consume literally 10times more time to keep list of, message, get the answer from . . . FB has it all in one neat (even though sometimes smelly) package.

Similarly for e.g. GoT (also boardgame) events, as exactly-six-people is pain to manage generally. For someone going to such events it also has great UX, without any hassle of mass-sms or mass-email events.

Not to mention classic FB advantages like photo-sharing, communicating with friends on the other side of the world, etc. . .

It seems to me like deleting FB is not an option if I would like to stay as social. And I am actually quite introverted too, but thanks to channeling social interaction to FB (of course no app, just mbasic.facebook.com and desktop website) and particular events I can enjoy my time alone (which is vast majority of the time) without any regrets or being left behind in my social circle.

> Less Facebook == more happy. It's the best advice I can give.

I completely agree, and this works for me too. I take long breaks from Facebook and find it refreshing. It also becomes painful to think of logging in to Facebook afterwards. The tons of notifications and tags and replies. There's too much on the platform manipulating people to stay on it. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is real, and I know people who cannot stay without checking Facebook everyday. The main reason I haven't quit Facebook is because I use it for some activism related topics, and a huge audience exists on the platform.

For privacy reasons, to protect myself a bit more and to avoid ads, I mostly Facebook only from a browser on a computer. I don't use the app even though I know I can deny permissions for contacts, photos, camera, mic, location, notifications, etc., on iOS. Sometimes I visit mbasic.facebook.com from the browser on the phone for kicks and to get to messenger directly without jumping through hoops.

what's worked for me is using NoScript, which brings you to the lo-fi FB.

I no longer infinite scroll, and things load quicker... I've noticed that I check FB a lot less now that I can't just mindlessly scroll down.

It's the best advice to stay happy. I also removed the app last month on my mobile and it helped me to have a very happy weekend as I don't get to login on my laptop. Earlier on weekends I watch FB in morning and get depressed coz one of my friends friend (out of 500 odd friends) went to Europe and had good time but I feel like a loser and screw up my day.

I feel like this kind of activity really triggers some kind of primal social drive in the brain to the point where it is actively unhealthy. I've also struggled with crazy Facebook compulsions, to the point where I've also had to delete the app, and I force myself to use the terrible mobile web UI to make the experience as painful as possible.

I didn't actively touch Facebook throughout August, and I really feel my general outlook has improved. I'm also more social with people in real life, and not getting my saccharine hits from little snippets of conversation or internet point validation.

Now I'm rarely active with it and feeling better for it. I still reluctantly have to use the messenger for communication with certain people, and login for access to other websites that rely on facebook (e.g. Goodreads).

It really is good advice

Right on! Total agreement here. Since I was pretty addicted (as of about a year ago), not only did I delete the app from my phone, I changed my passsword to one generated by LastPass (e.g. totally freaking hard to memorize). This re-enforces the fact that the only EASY way to get on FB is via my laptop:)

The best principled stand I have ever taken was not installing it in the first place...

Like many others have said, it is the same for me too. I deleted the app one day and have felt so much better since.

I actually used to be able to use the browser based messenger to talk to friends but that has been broken lately and now tries to force you to install the app - more dark patterns here (I don't want the app!).

Now I just ignore Facebook completely. I cringe when I need to open the site for some reason. I'm just happier without it.

I'd love some open source thing like this that was mine first and foremost, but I don't really need that either. I thought I needed social networking way more than I really do.

I got rid of my phone ~2 years ago and I feel the same way about that decision

How often do you run into a situation where you're forced to enter a phone number? Do you enter a non-existent one or do you use your POTS number? Do you run into situations/signups where you need to verify a number, and if so what do you do for that?

The idea is very attractive, but it seems like the rest of the world is stuck with the mindset that you have to have a phone number, email address, and even a physical address.

Yeah, there's a few services that are hard to use due to requiring phone number verification. Ironically, twilio was one of them. I just don't use these services, but if I absolutely needed to, I could figure it out. I ended up using a lot of bitcoin and other cryptos recently.

When I sign up for something I usually use a fake number.

I think a decent compromise will be using another prepaid cheap phone, although building my own phone would be pretty cool too (lots of hobbyists doing that now)

How do you handle a situation such as being at an event with friends, getting separated, and needing to find each other again?

At concerts, I've found it hugely helpful to simple take a picture from where I'm standing, and sending it to my friends.

I haven't had to figure out anything like that in the last few years. I'm not very social - I hang out with friends a few times a month and usually just hack on stuff and drink a few beers.

I've got lots of radios though, and I use them sometimes if I'm doing a convoy or camping, etc.

Ah, OK. For people with active social lives though, phones are pretty hard to go without.

This caught my eye; you got rid of your phone? Genuinely curious, what was that like? Do you not have a phone now, at all?

I don't have a phone at all. I am thinking about getting a prepaid phone at some point in the future (I did this at one point - you can get a $5 phone and pay under $100 for minutes that will last a year).

It doesn't even feel weird for me now. I have POTS copper line going to my house but no phone plugged into it at this point.

It probably wouldn't work for most people, but I'm the type who just wants to work on my projects alone and be at a computer most of the day. I do think most people could get away with the prepaid phone and spend under $100 a year on phone service.

I'm a linux user - I'm pretty sure I'd go crazy on macOS without a phone. Giving up iMessages and thousands of dollars of phone/mac apps was tough but now I'd never go back.

Indeed that's something Cal Newport has been always saying!

Social media is engineered to be addictive and hooking us while the BS reason that we give to be on social networking for is to gain popularity but popularity would follow us when we do Deep work! https://hackernoon.com/hackers-guide-to-internet-minimalism-...

Returning to this approximately a day or so after it was posted. I decided to remove the Facebook app from my iPhone and replace it with a Safari bookmark to the mobile site.

Oh my lord, the Facebook app eats battery life. I haven't had to charge my phone yet compared to my 2x charges per day. Whether through less usage or less Facebook doing its thing I can't confirm. I'm not going back either way.

Same.. couldn't be happier. started by removing messenger & ended up removing FB entirely. I Hated it when my old ATT Galaxy S6 came with it pre-installed and you couldn't delete it only disable it so I did just that. The phone runs faster too.

Wasnt there some stanford study that concluded that more people engage with social media like FB more unhappier they felt. something to do with selection bias in feed.

I treat facebook as a contact list for people who I don't regularly communicate with on a daily/weekly cadence. It is a way to keep in touch and up to date with people but the less I frequent facebook the "less unhappy" I am. I don't want to say I am happier not going to facebook, but I do know less facebook isn't a bad thing.

Not a Facebook user, but I did the following with Instagram and never regretted it. If you can't delete the Facebook app, at least disable notifications - you can survive without the distraction of your phone constantly lighting up with alerts about likes or comments and so on.

Certainly on iOS, the Facebook app eats battery like nobody's business.

I simply use the mobile website which is pretty good - and if I need to take a peek at messenger, I request the desktop site, which is sufficiently inconvenient to prevent me from doing it too often - about once a week.

Yeah that works for a bit. I was "more happy" when I deleted it. Now, a year later, I'm just as sad because my wife is on it all the time, but I can't influence that. It's not like I can just delete her instance...

My girlfriend used to grab her phone and start scrolling the fb newsfeed while we were talking. As she knows that I've deleted my fb account, my trick was to gently remind her that we were in the middle of a talk, and although she may be able to do two things at the same time, I don't, and her using the phone is distracting to me and makes me break the flow of the conversation. Like Pavlov's dog, she is now so accustomed to that, that I don't really need to say anything anymore. I just look at her doing that, she understands and turns off the phone (well, most of the time at least).

Even if you aren't both in the middle of a conversation, I suggest to you to slowly start talking to her about all these shaddy things about facebook (important: is not an addiction but a mental conditioning, as "addiction" is a very strong word for some people and "conditioning" is a much fuzzier concept). Then, slowly, start noticing that her "conditioning" on facebook is a turnoff on certain situations. Be honest and frontal about that..

This has been extremely helpful, and I took it a step further the other week by uninstalling twitter. Not having a constant stream of news that I can endlessly scroll through has improved my sense of well-being immensely.

I actually uninstalled it because I was out of storage (8GB iPhone), so it was the first app I removed. I feel like it's so much better not to have fb with you all the time to scroll-wasting your time.

I did the same + I disabled facebook.com in Block Site extension. If I need to contact someone I use https://www.messenger.com

You could always just use the mobile version of the website.

Uses less battery power, too!

They wouldn't let me see my messages without installing Messenger.

Try mbasic.facebook.com

As much as they want to force you into messenger, they don't want to cut off users of feature phones.

I get no notifications from my Facebook app (I'm on iOS). What am I missing? I do get notifications of messages from the Messenger app but I want those as they are from friends

I use browser as well and only check it on one day of the week.

That's exactly what I did. I also gave myself a ridiculously complex password to further discourage myself from logging in randomly.

haha !! That's why I never installed messenger or their app. They forced me in different ways to install, but I never did :)

Yep, you are only a few steps away from deactivating your account completely.

Second that. Did the same thing... Got the same feeling.

Same thing a few days ago. Same happy feeling.

i did that too but then found it annoying not to be able to lookup people i met.

Ye, Facebook is Facebook, which is creepy.

Some friends asked me to sign up for it because they wanted to use the messenger service for a groupchat. When I registered it immediately propagated my profile with information about my highschool (10 years ago) and suggested a lot of people I knew from back then as well as some devs I've collaborated with on Github. All this from a new email.

So I went into the settings and changed all privacy settings I could find, and was suddenly banned for "suspicious activity". To unlock the account they demanded my phonenumber, surely only for 2FA. But because my friends kept nagging I gave them it so I could chat with them.

After about 10 minutes of chatting I got banned again for "suspicious activity". This time they demanded a recent photo of my face to confirm my identity. But also said that I shouldn't worry because only their servers will see it. So I just sent a photo of some random from a local magazine and they replied that it was not me in the image.

So although I've never posted any photos online, never used the email, never posted my phonenumber online. They know everything about me, including what I look like. Can't imagine what data Google has if Facebook has all that..

They probably asked your friends if the picture was you or not; they'd almost certainly be willing to do the verification if told it was to "prevent someone from impersonating you".

I thought they did that, but my experience has been quick, so I cannot imagine anyone got asked. I suspect it was either an automated process, or some human looked at my photos and decide whether I am that person. I believe it would be both, so facial recognition can be trained and perfected. I'd lean to say if this was all automated, they probably did a "Google image" search and came to the conclusion it could not have been the user.

Well, even here you seem to be posting from two different accounts. Even I get the feeling of 'suspicious activity' with your story.

Or you know, you are talking to another person that has had the same experience.

Please do not accuse me without any proof. I only have one account. You have no idea what you are talking about. Do not insult people like that. You can look up my public profile. I am done talking with you.

Wow, that escalated very quickly.

Joe-Z probably thought you were Convery because your comment seems to flow from his seamlessly, I made the same mistake.

This applies to a lot of people too because there is a cluster of people who agree/think alike, and there is a cluster who aren't relatively to the other group. The way he said it is actually very insulting and condescending, pretty much ready to attack me and accuse me for something I did not do. I am glad you are being honest with me how you felt in the first place. That would have been a better way to express one's doubt. Although I am not famous, just a nobody HNer, I hope people would at least do a little research on my profile first before accusing me playing a persona game.

From what I understand Facebook has "phantom" profiles for people who aren't on Facebook but who have friends who are.

"Shadow profiles" is the term that made it into the news: https://www.dailydot.com/news/facebook-shadow-profiles-priva...

it's possible they rejected your photo because they did a reverse image search and it matched the magazine?

Facebook allows you to tag people who aren't on facebook in photos - so maybe it was using those photos for comparison.

This. I went through the same process - Facebook rejected a photo from a really obscure magazine, so I asked one of my friends to send me an image they already uploaded to Facebook. FB quickly accepted that one.

How would they know it's not his photo in the magazine?

I'd guess the population of magazine models who want minimum-information access is an acceptable false negative rate for Facebook.

This ties into a phenomena that I've noticed with a lot of social networks lately-- fake content.

What I mean by that specifically is putting things into your feed that nobody actually intended to share. e.g. "XXXX liked this thing!" Or generating notifications of non-events, like "Hey, share a thing!"

The share button is literally right next to the 'uplike' button. And they specifically did not press it. But you're gonna press it for them, because you gotta have content and folks keep pretty mum on facebook (and everywhere else) lately. There is very little I'm interested in sharing with every single person I know. And even less I'm interested in sharing with strangers a la Twitter.

To say nothing of the overall click-baity trollish quality of aformentioned articles. Every time one of my dear friends gets triggered and feeds the trolls, facebook is dutifully shoving it in my face. There is a high correlation between virality and unredeemable shit stirring.

Facebook is doing it. Twitter is doing it. Reddit is perhaps the most shameless of all with their mobile app working hard to spam you with posts that you.... haven't commented on, or even upvoted. (I can't say one way or the other about Snapchat because I'm not a millennial.)

I do believe this is the intersection of 100% social media saturation and the public markets' relentless demand for growth. This is peak social media. They're flogging live video hard, but news flash: I grew up when you had to make plans to watch your favorite TV show, and it's the worst. Live video sucks. I got shit to do. I can't even be bothered to DVR things any more.

This is exactly my prove my with Facebook and the thing that's making it downright close to unusable now -- the crap that you see that nobody intended to share. My feed is a literally endless stream of awful memes because someone I went to high school with ten years ago tagged their friend in a comment and now I have to see that.

I want something that shows only what my friends explicitly posted, in chronological order, and without a tiny character limit.

> What I mean by that specifically is putting things into your feed that nobody actually intended to share. e.g. "XXXX liked this thing!" Or generating notifications of non-events, like "Hey, share a thing!"

I also noticed I get a lot of "this female friend of yours who just like you also doesn't have her relationship status revealed to us is interested in going to X tomorrow" reminders. It's like Facebook wants me to be a creepy stalker male friend.

I started taking screenshots of it and sending them to them - "hey, Facebook wants me to stalk you" style (they're privacy conscious so we can joke about it together instead of them thinking I'm creeping on them)

Snapchat is pretty good about this. They only send notifications for direct messages, not for sponsored content, stories, or group chats.

For now. The others didn't, until they did.

"The tricks, hooks, and tactics Facebook uses to keep people coming back have gotten more aggressive and explicit. And I feel that takes away from the actual value the platform provides."

This is why I stopped using Facebook. I really didn't mind the platform until they crossed the threshold of being a useful product to reminding my each time I used it that I AM the product.

I like to fly under the radar and prefer people to find my pictures and posts naturally. Once they started force feeding people my content I decided to stop inflicting my peers with fuel for facebooks social cannons.

Agreed. I wonder how long before most of FB's users notice how aggressive this is and, perhaps more likely, how boring the feed becomes with these tricks.

Is FB getting more aggressive because it wants even more or because it is actually losing clicks/logons/attention?

Facebook is definitely losing engagement.


> Is FB getting more aggressive because it wants even more or because it is actually losing clicks/logons/attention?

Probably the latter. I only recall getting the clingy email messages when I haven't checked it in a few days.

I've never had a problem with Facebook over-use, but I know people who have. Those notifications are so slimy and akin to waving a drink in front of an alcoholic's face.

I think a lot of new companies are going to be burned by this eventually.

Every time Facebook turns up the notification rate, they see more engagement. Every time they encourage Boosting a post, they make more money. And then later, when they can't link cause and effect, people like you and me and OP give up on the site completely.

Similarly, sites that A/B test and adjust features and "improve" their design constantly pay a real price - their users feel like guinea pigs and can't ever learn to use the product fluidly. But a .1% conversion boost is measurable now, while a slow bleed of users who want reliability can't be proven.

At a certain point trading goodwill for bigger numbers actually does become a problem, and I think we're getting there.

What do you mean exactly? When did they started doing that? I've always been of the "under the radar" type myself, not too popular and so on, and I can't imagine how Facebook would be forcing my content over people.

(I've closed my account on 2013, so I don't know exactly what happened since then.)

Right when they decided to let the world know you changed your profile picture with no option to do it silently.

I have a facebook account, but I haven't even logged in in the mast few years. Recently (like a week ago), I started receiving text messages on the number i had setup, after constant nagging by fb about security, looking like this :

Robin, get back on Facebook by clicking: https://fb.com/l/someIDhere

I am OUTRAGED by this. My phone text messages is one of the only communication medium that has no spam, and i basically use it for urgent stuff. I never agreed to fb using it for anything further than 2fa. If it wants to spam me, it may send emails.

This was basically the last straw for me. I'm going to send a message to all my friends telling them to send a mail if they want to contact me, delete everything on my profile and wall, and bid farewell. My account will stay up mostly to keep scammers/impostors at bay.

This happened to me with Instagram (which I stopped using after they killed the chronological feed). I'm almost certain I never gave my number to Instagram. I used it to confirm something with Facebook at some point apparently, but I don't recall giving it to them and I can't imagine myself consenting to phone notifications. At one point they sent me a message at 2am local time on a Sunday.

You are in luck!

At one point in time, text messages were extremely expensive (several cents per message, depending on the plan you had). At that time, laws were passed (in many countries, I don't know where you are) that made it illegal to send unsolicited text messages.

You should see if you can scare Facebook.

I don't know of many countries outside the US where you had to pay for receiving texts or calls.

Most everywhere the cost was always borne by the sender (except when roaming)

Even roaming, it is free to receive SMSes for my plan and most plans in Australia.

If you need to receive an 2FA token, well, you need to receive an 2FA token.

Yes, I failed to mention the roaming exception was for calls only.

Since this summer, roaming charges are also banned altogether within the EU.

Not 100% right as some companies in EU member countries such as Finland, where I'm from, were allowed to use a certain clause that would allow them to still add roaming charges (mostly data related). This is done because the majority of operators sell contracts based on the speed and not a monthly GB cap. Almost all contracts are unlimited in data. I for one have a ~30€/month contract that has unlimited data with 50Mbps down / 30Mbps up.

After the roaming change my contract includes ~6GB of roaming data within EU. When that's reached there is a 0.0057€ per MB price in data abroad.

This is legally not "unsolicited", at least in my jurisdiction.

To be unsolicited, you must not have had previous business contact with the company before they contacted you. If you have a business relationship with the company, for example because you opened an account and gave them your phone number, then these laws do not apply.

> You should see if you can scare Facebook.

In all honesty, you really can't.

I use Google Voice for 2FA. It kind of defeats the purpose of 2FA, but it ensures that all the spam stays in my inbox, and lets me change phone numbers when I change country without causing problems.

Although I'm not on Facebook anymore, I have the same problem with LinkedIn. To deal with it, I just add to my email sieve filter every so often. So far I have:

  ## Linkedin - Trash useless email
  if allof(
    address :is "From" "messages-noreply@linkedin.com",
      header :regex "Subject" "^(Congratulate|Say happy birthday to) .+",
      header :regex "Subject" "^Check out .+ (updated profile|new skill|new photo)",
      header :regex "Subject" ".+ is a?waiting (for )?your response$",
      header :regex "Subject" "^News about .+",
      header :regex "Subject" "ou have [0-9]+ (unread message|new update)",
      header :regex "Subject" "Do you know .+",
      header :regex "Subject" "^.+, you have .+waiting for you on LinkedIn$",
      header :regex "Subject" "see who you already know on LinkedIn$",
      header :regex "Subject" "^.+, more than [0-9,]+ new jobs in .+$",
      header :regex "Subject" "^Connect to your classmates from .+$"
      addflag  "\\Seen";
      fileinto "Trash";
I'm sure you could do something similar for Facebook if you just switched to email notifications and stopped using the mobile apps.

FYI, LinkedIn has somewhat fine-grained email/notification configuration so you can stop these at the source.

Have a look at Me (menu) > Settings & Privacy > Communications (tab) > Email frequency (controls not only overall frequency but frequency per message type, i.e. group message notifications, invitations, job notifications, connection update notifications, etc.).

Also, you can entirely disable classes of notifications you no longer want to receive/see (even when you're viewing the site) by going to the Notifications tab, then clicking the context menu ("...") on a given notification and selecting "Turn off" (stop receiving this type of notification) or "Unfollow" (stop receiving updates from the given source).

> FYI, LinkedIn has somewhat fine-grained email/notification configuration so you can stop these at the source.

Facebook does too, but it's also slimy too. You can't preemptively opt out of specific notifications, but you can unsubscribe to types you've already received via a link in the email. The slimy thing is that some of these are fairly generically named and you can never be sure exactly what you're unsubscribing from sometimes.

I want to receive ONLY event invites and messages notifications from Facebook, but there have been a couple times where those stopped and the only way I was able to get them back was to resubscribe to stuff until I hit the one that suppressed them.

Slight tangent, but any suggestions on how to do this kind of real-time filtering with Gmail? The filter functionality doesn't quite let you do regexes.

GMail filtering isn't very powerful.

Although I run my own mail server, there are other good providers out there which allow you to use sieve based filtering. Fastmail for example:


Imapfilter [1] would work.

It also uses regexes so it would be easy to convert mike-cardwell's rules.

[1]: https://github.com/lefcha/imapfilter

Oh cool, thanks!

Dumb question: Why not filter by the from address?

That's what the address :is "From" "messages-noreply@linkedin.com", bit does . This is just more specific.

Oh wow, totally missed that. I think it's time for more coffee.

I wanted to be selective about which particular emails from Linkedin would be discarded.

They also ensure there's ALWAYS at least one notification when you sign in. Even if nothing of importance happened, they find _something_ to notify you about just so you can see the red notification count every time.

I deactivated my account yesterday and look forward to a FB-free life.

I mean, enjoy your FB-free life, but I tweaked my settings a bit, and I only ever get a notification if someone likes my posts/comments, which is all I care about.

If I open the app after not having posted something in a day or two, it's quiet.

Try not going on Facebook at all for a week or two and see what they send you.

Yes. The fake orange notification is always annoying. Likewise, the new "feature" where infinite scrolling keeps listing the same posts over and over again.

I'm not quite "done with facebook" but I'm getting there.

Every time I was drunk, I deactivated Facebook. Then, when I sobered up the next day, I would reactivate it like a coward.

Almost a year ago now, I deactivated it and haven't turned it back on.

Seems like LinkedIn does this for me. I guess the difference is Linkedin is upfront and proud of it's creepiness.

Did you deactivate on purpose? Unless you still use Messenger or are considering changing your mind, you should delete your account instead. Deactivation just flips a bit; deletion actually removes your data.

I did it on purpose because I didn't want to be forever locked out of accounts that required a FB signin. Case in point, just hours after deactivating (the first time), I realized I couldn't log into Airbnb without Facebook. So I had to reactivate, change Airbnb settings, then deactivate again.

> deletion actually removes your data

Keeping in mind that this is Facebook we are talking about, I doubt the data is actually removed.

GDPR means Facebook can face fines in the billions for not deleting data when you delete your account

Deactivation still stops people contacting you through Facebook. It works fine for me.

Here is a perspective I read that I thought was interesting[1]:

"There are a billion active accounts on facebook and other than the 208 that are set to private, I can communicate with every single one of them. I don't know what other word I can use other then Power. This is great power, just like the power held by the presidency, with great power comes great responsibility, and loneliness.

The worst thing about Facebook is not the power it gives me. The worst thing about facebook is what I chose to do with the power it gives me.

I certainly couldn't handle it. You might as well say the worst thing about facebook is me.

On facebook, why would I give someone privacy when I have access to all this information. And I don't even need their permission. I can watch your private pictures because you made them available. It's not that I can find out where you work, where you live, where you eat, everything about you. It's that I actually do find out without ever hiring a private detective. It's not what I can do, it's what I do!"

[1]: https://idiallo.com/blog/facebook-and-me

Lots of things we see as innocuous online would seem really weird, clingy, abusive in other contexts. Imagine if every time you walked into a store before you even looked at anything someone steps up right into your face and says "Sign up for our newsletter!" Then you walk two steps and someone steps up to you with a phone in their hand "Hey, call your friends and tell them you love our store! We'll give you 5% off!" then a couple steps later a marketer comes up to you "Hey, our advertising department wants your phone number so they can call you up and just say something to you a few times a day!"

I just want to buy a damn pillow! (Don't forget to review it, your opinion is important to the world! And the manufacturer would like to know how useful it was to you but won't do anything if it wasn't!)

Every postmodern retail shop in the US already does this. Have you been to a Lush, Rituals, matress sales, or any clothing boutique lately? Their peppy, pseudo-personal sales staff has a perfectly crafted script and they know it cold. They'll interrupt me when I'm obviously happily browsing on my own. "Just to let you know, everything in the back is 5% off, everything with a red tag is 6% off, and if you sign up for our email newsletter today, we'll give you $2 off. What is your name, by the way?" I want to ask them if there will be a quiz on the material. They also ask for your phone number or email at checkout. When I politely decline, they often act like that has never happened before

Perhaps the growth of the platform or certain internal user-based metrics are not being met, so whoever is in charge of making sure they "hit their numbers" is pushing like mad to find ways to grow product. I can see some very aggressive people sitting around a table coming up with ideas to force engagement. Then after a month, they sit back and figure out all the A/B testing that drives the machine.

This reminds me of the quote, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”

I keep expecting companies to suffer from this "hit your numbers" approach, and it seems like they're starting to.

Every A/B test makes your site less predictable and straightforward for your users. Every push notification dilutes the value of every other notification sent. Every 'fake' event undermines the thrill of real engagement with other users.

At a certain point you're burning real value to create better metrics, and that's not sustainable for a company that actually wants to endure.

As someone with maybe an "outside" perspective (I never got "in" to Facebook, I never logged in with any regularity, I've posted once, and I essentially have a blank profile), the "We haven’t heard from you in a while" thing is what keeps from using the platform at all. I'm an "inbox zero" kind of person, and there's so much noise on Facebook that I can't get any signal.

Every time I log in I somehow have around 6 notifications. Facebook always finds something to notify me about. It's never a daunting number, but it's never zero either. If I log in twice in a week, I'll have something under a dozen notifications both days. So you'd think that after not logging in for 3 months I'd have dozens of notifications, right? Nope. Always some kind of number that I imagine Facebook has decided is the ideal number of notifications to keep me interested.

I've tried in vain to limit my notifications to things that I actually care about, but I've never been able to get rid of the random noise. Facebook is determined to send me push notifications about something. I can't stand it.

It's official. I will never work for Facebook. In terms of hipness (lack of it), positive impact (lack of it), and sliminess, this puts them on the same shelf as Comcast for me. It also frames their ruinous impact on societal discourse as "hostile" rather than just a "a naive and clumsy mistake".

For Facebook employees: Is this really the company you want to work for? Is this the impact you want to have on the world? Is this really the best place in society to apply your talents?

Facebook employees are fed a lot of kool aid and each work on a very narrow piece of the system. I don't think they question the larger problem they're enabling.

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

yeah plus $$$

> For Facebook employees: Is this really the company you want to work for? Is this the impact you want to have on the world? Is this really the best place in society to apply your talents?

I've wondered the same about a few companies, Facebook and Amazon in particular. Even if one may be working on some storage deduplication or scaling the system or other seemingly dissociated pieces from the obnoxious front end, how is it possible to imagine that you're truly doing something for the good of humankind (net-net)? I can understand the higher pay, facilities and probably technical and other challenges. But impact on the world at large with consideration for the future being created? I personally don't get it.

Unfortunately for $FB, they may have bigger fish to fry than user revolt over cloying UX dark patterns.

The "Facebook reaches coveted non-existant people (NEP) demo" story would be amusing, if it weren't symbolic of greater industry-wide risks concerning click-fraud scrutiny.

But of greater concern as investigations into Russian meddling of the election heat up, is that $FB profited enormously from microtargeted ads specifically engineered as part of a program of mass psyops. With everyone looking for a scapegoat, this could result in actual indictments.

Why Nobody Can Trust Facebook


Facebook Wins, Democracy Loses


I haven't used Facebook for anything other than _chatting with family_ in more than a year. I still get "notifications" about things that I literally could not care any less about. Someone posted something on _their_ wall? I don't fucking care! Someone said something and it got a lot of attention? I literally hate that person, why are you telling me this?

And... you might tell me that I could just unsubscribe. Yeah. I did, multiple times. The notifications still come. They just go to the spam bucket now.

Facebook is one of the worst "products" on the market and I'm pretty close to telling family to find some other means of communicating with me. Like, you know, a good old fashioned phone call.

I'm in pretty much the same situation - the main reason why I use Facebook is to message friends. Basically all my friends have Facebook, so it's the easiest way.

Messenger seems to be moving more and more towards a snapchat clone, where as I just want something to message people. I don't want to post updates, play games, see ads, make phone calls, get spammed when someone new signs up.

iMessage before iOS 10 was perfect, except not all my friends use Apple.

If you don't want to get exposed to the crap part, then just use messenger.com instead. I haven't been to Facebook.com in a while

There probably should be a robot that responds about Facebook posts "you aren't the customer, you are the product."

The article is pretty careful to use the term user - undoubtedly we are users.

But here is the problematic statement:

"This is what happens when the metric of how much time users spend using your thing supersedes the goal of providing legitimate value to your users."

The thing is - sure, the user time spent is measured, and "providing legitimate value" is not. How would one measure that, exactly?

But - more importantly - the metric, the ONLY metric, that really really matters is revenue. From real paying customers - ie: advertisers, some alluded to in the article.

So that is the one for which all optimizations are directed - via the indirect metric of "user engagement" where "user engagement is a pretty good proxy for "users see ads" and perhaps "users click on ads."

It does not appear that "providing legitimate value" is part of any of that, nor is there any reason that it ever would be.

IFF sufficient value could be provided that people would actually pay money just to use Facebook, so much money that it dwarfs all other forms of revenue (and perhaps even anti-correlates with ad revenue).... THEN we'll see Facebook focussed on user value. But not until then.

I've always thought would be interesting to create a survey that would ask FB users: what is the maximum amount they would pay per month to use Facebook? What is it really worth to them? Or, would they continue to use it if it was $10/month? How about 50 cents?

Check this article out. Cites a study that puts the estimated annual value of Facebook to study participants @ $750!


Seems like one way to do that would be to offer opting out of ads, A/B testing for price. It'd let them find the balance between user-supported revenue and advertiser-supported revenue.

I can't even get to Facebook anymore on any of my devices. On all of my Macs, my `/etc/hosts` file includes:    facebook.com    www.facebook.com
And then to double down, I have a custom 1Blocker rule to prevent accidentally opening up any Facebook links on my iPhone:


I’ve done something similar but technically that only prevents you from visiting the main site.

If you want to be really shocked you should search for some of the host files out there that attempt to list every known Facebook-owned host; there are hundreds of lines or more. It is extremely difficult to prevent Facebook tentacles from being loaded by other sites, and it’s surely a losing battle (I bet they register new domains daily).

I've already got that covered[1].

  …/~ cat /etc/hosts | wc -l
[1] - https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts

This won't match hostnames with numbers or dashes in them. Also it will match www.neverusefacebook.com

As a small part of a larger change in my personal life, I've also decided to delete my facebook account as well as Linkedin and other social media accounts. Basically I was in the need for a mental break.

Too much mental stimulation, specially from things that don't have much interest, was making my mind very shallow and easily distracted. I still read a lot of HN, but I'm trying to reduce my internet leisure time to 1 hour per day at most.

Since now I easily get bored, I started doing some sudokus (on a paper book) and I am finally starting to feel my mind a little bit sharper. I also feel the need to find more productive things to pass the time. For instance, three days ago I explored, quite in depth, C pointers and pointer arithmetic because of the first comment on this hn thread [0]. Also, yesterday, starting on the hn thread on microkernels [1], I started reading about these "alternative" OSes (Minix, HelenOS, etc), checked the source code of some of them, and eventually played a bit with nasm assembler and made a 32 bit and 64 bit "hello world" app for MacOS. These are things that I wouldn't learn and do if I was being mentally "stimulated" by facebook and that kind of things.

However, one positive thing about facebook is that those friends that used to send emails with funny memes, videos and what else, now use facebook for that. As a result, my email inbox is now much cleaner and calmer.. :)

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15198093

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15216615

Thanks for sharing your experience! :)

Funny now that you mention.. I've been doing less and less side projects since my life got 'invaded' by social media. I wonder if I'm suffering from a similar problem...

I think so many platforms these days employ so many attention-grabbing techniques, that they wear down people. So now they have to go to the bottom of the barrel, notifying you for things that aren't really notifications -- the fact that you haven't posted in a week, for example.

The content quality is abysmal. People simply do not care to share on Facebook in ways that they have in the past. Their awful algorithm ruined the user value.

I think if they returned to a default chronological sorted news feed, with still sprinkling in ads as they do, they could increase the amount of time people spend on the service, show more ads, and increase revenue all while providing a superior experience. Why they don't return to this level of simplicity that the platform once had is beyond me. Too many engineers and too many PM's pushing for their pet projects, I assume, and you really just end up with an overdeveloped product.

If you want to delete Facebook from your phone but your friends use Facebook Events, there is a stand alone Events app. That being said, I wish my friends didn't use Facebook for events.



Better yet, use the https://mbasic.facebook.com website designed for feature phones. It doesn't even require javascript!

I wish you could use that, the Pages app, and the Groups app with a deactivated Facebook profile (I could still connect in meaningful ways). I understand why Facebook has no reason to make it that way, but it is making me vote with my feet.

I'm beginning to wonder if our ability to sympathize only serves to advance the agendas of those who want to make money on us. Facebook's pushiness is and should always be held as unacceptable, in all circumstances and for all people.

"I sympathize that the company needs business users to keep it afloat" does not justify the kind of begging they've been up to lately.

The author's (and all our) collective sympathy keeps them soliciting us with their bullshit

> I'm beginning to wonder if our ability to sympathize only serves to advance the agendas of those who want to make money on us.

Using your adversary's virtues against them is a strategy as old as humanity. With social media it's baked right into the name. Who doesn't want to be social? Who doesn't want to share? Is something wrong with you?

Facebook is almost becoming Farcebook.

I deleted my Facebook account a few years ago and quickly found that it provided little value to my everyday. I would say longer term, as friends had kids, I missed some of the "social bonding" experience via the web, but din't miss anything in person. A month ago my phone died and as a test, I didn't install Instagram. Instagram was the last FB connection. I always defended Instagram to myself. It didn't require as much attention as FB and barrier to entry was low (post some pics sometimes). In the last year Instagram has shifted more towards the FB notification style and adopted more Snap features. My feed became filled with ads, stories gained dominance, and notifications became persistent. I figured that is sufficient mental intrusion to warrant my departure.

As a heavily connected individual, work in tech, I find that disconnecting does alleviate mental baggage. I have gained more time to read and that brings me more joy than scanning an insta-feed.

Another notification type not mentioned in the article is "you last updated your profile X weeks ago."

This one is worse because it also uses the iOS/OSX notifications system for maximum passive aggressiveness: https://twitter.com/minimaxir/status/887740777031278592

The one that finally did it for me was the "Do you know x?" notification that I couldn't disable.

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