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#deletefacebook (techcrunch.com)
836 points by middle1 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 398 comments



It's interesting to see how many people make excuses for still using Facebook because it makes event organizing and the like easier. I'm 26 and never used Facebook. My friends organize group events all the time, I'm always kept in the loop because I text my friends and ask what they are doing this weekend and/or meet with my friends regularly enough that they let me know what's going on. It's become well known that I don't get updates through FB so my friends will text me invites if I haven't asked for an update.

People act as if Facebook is the only way to keep up with friends but it's just not the case. Every phone can still receive SMS and you can gasp meet your friends personally to catch up.

Now for friends who live in distant locations you need to ask yourself: Does Facebook status updates really make me feel more connected to this person? My answer would be no, and I accept the fact that I just wont see my friends who live in other locations as much as I'd like, and I simply try to make it a habit of catching up when I'm in town.

There was life before Facebook and there can be life without Facebook, stop making excuses.


> It's interesting to see how many people make excuses for still using Facebook because it makes event organizing and the like easier. I'm 26 and never used Facebook.

If you've never used it, how do you know it does not make life easier? Similarly, it's possibly a burden (albeit small) on your friends who have to text you in addition to organising for others.

> Now for friends who live in distant locations you need to ask yourself: Does Facebook status updates really make me feel more connected to this person?

For you no, for me absolutely 100%.

Additionally, there are many opportunities I have discovered through Facebook that I likely would not have otherwise. For example, just last weekend I happened to be flying across continents and when I checked Facebook on my phone, I discovered a cousin I haven't seen in a while also happened to be flying to the same city on the same day. There would have been no reason to share this with each other, but because it was out there publicly I was able to see and organise time for us to meet. I often see content which prompts me to get in contact with people.

I have no doubt I can survive without Facebook (though perhaps some might not), so for me you're arguing a strawman. For me, there is no doubt that it _is useful_, the question is whether that offsets the myriad negative impacts. To suggest that your experience (with admission that you've never used Facebook) is reflective of everyone and they should "stop making excuses" is pretty narrow.


> If you've never used it, how do you know it does not make life easier?

I've used Facebook and then quit. Facebook doesn't make life easier. It's a huge time waster, in addition to being dangerous for society. My social life improved a lot since leaving. I did have some interesting meetings with people through Facebook, but the overall effect was detrimental to my life. I've seen many people there whose lives are being damaged by the site due to addiction. They want to quit but can't, because Facebook has locked their social connections within the site.


I unfollowed all my friends(you can also use an extension that removes your feed), now I have the pros of Facebook which is being connected to people I care about while not having to fight a feed-looking/time-wasting addiction.

I only use facebook for messenger and events now and it works quite well.


You could add the one thing I do: post links and comments warning everyone on FB how bad it is. It's the people who live on FB who most need to get these messages.


>Similarly, it's possibly a burden (albeit small) on your friends who have to text you in addition to organizing for others.

I really have to agree with this: using your friends as personal assistants is not cool. Planning events can be hard work, just scheduling your own weekend can be a hassle. That said: I do wish people used something other than Facebook to plan events. It's just not gonna happen anytime soon.


I know I'm an old fogey (like half a decade older than the parent commenter!), but I never really understand what people are talking about with this stuff. Throughout my 20s and to the present day, my weekend was not organized by checking for random events on Facebook, but by talking with my friends digitally or otherwise. How that is akin to "using your friends as personal assistants" is an absolute mystery to me. It sounds more like "using your friends as friends", which seems pretty normal...


If you’re talking to one friend, then that friend is essentially having to route your updates on time-constraints, preferences for places to go, etc. out to all your other friends, and route all their responses back to you. They really do become your secretary.

Now, it is possible to fan out these update messages yourself through (lots and lots of) SMSing, but in almost every friend group I’ve been in, the problem is that I don’t actually have contact information for everyone who I want to meet up with.

Basically: how do you negotiate restaurants with your best mate’s new vegan girlfriend? On Facebook, the two of you just have that conversation on the event page. Without Facebook, you have that conversation through your best mate—or maybe not at all, and then one or the other of you gets mad about where you end up eating.


Ok, I see where you're coming from, but none of this is how anything works for me. I just say, "hey let's do something!" and my friends either say, "ok, whatcha want to do?" or "ok, I'm doing X, you want to do that with me?" or "shoot I can't, I'm already doing Y". Then I say either, "well I'd love to Z" or "sure I'll join you for X" or "darn! lunch this week?". Sometimes yeah, people don't want to go to the same restaurant or whatever, but it just gets figured out through communication. It doesn't seem like a big deal. I'm sure this would all work just as well on Facebook, but it works just as well off Facebook too.


> . I just say, "hey let's do something!"

That scales ... Poorly.

> Sometimes yeah, people don't want to go to the same restaurant or whatever, but it just gets figured out through communication.

Sure, solving these problems through communication is fun. Especially with 5+ people involved. Or god forbid 20+.

I wonder how many events these "i dont use facebook its worthless" people organize. And with what frequency.

Even the crappy timeline feature has benefits - I went to awesome concert last week with a friend that I had not met in a while. Only because I saw him interested in it on the timeline.

Facebook sucks, but you people have no idea what its positives are, and therefore you will not ever be able to make any real alternative ... That sucks even more, because I would really like platform with better UI than FB.


> That scales ... Poorly.

Maybe the OP doesn’t want it to scale. Maybe they’re not interested in frequent events with 20+ people. Maybe they prefer going to events with an established group of friends.

Crucially, the OP made a specific point (emphasis mine):

> none of this is how anything works for me.

It’s not like Facebook removes the hassle of organising 20 people. It just makes it less of a hassle. If you don’t typically go to events with that many people, then Facebook solves no problem. Maybe you feel Facebook is necessary for your group of friends, but it’s definitely not necessary for every group.

> you people have no idea what its positives are

I’ve used Facebook. I’m well aware what its positives are. For me they don’t outweigh the negatives, so I deleted my account. Maybe “we people” are not interested in “making a real alternative to Facebook”. Maybe for us the better alternative already exists and it’s called “no Facebook”.


> Maybe the OP doesn’t want it to scale.

Frankly, in topic about "#deletefacebook" that seems like moving goalposts. Plenty of people enjoy those events of 5-10 people, so why so much hate on facebook.

> Maybe they prefer going to events with an established group of friends.

I don't understand, you claim that you can't have established group of friends with count over 20?

> It’s not like Facebook removes the hassle of organising 20 people. It just makes it less of a hassle.

That is funny. Organizing event for 20 people actually IS easy with Facebook, only hassle are those "I don't want to have a Facebook account" people that can't be just copied from previous event like everyone else.

> Maybe “we people” are not interested in “making a real alternative to Facebook”. Maybe for us the better alternative already exists and it’s called “no Facebook”.

True, sorry for the strawman. It sometimes seems to me like some people are posturing about their superiority due to not using FB, and it gets on my nerves.


My point (made more explicitly a couple comments upthread) is just that my life is not organized around "events" like you're describing. So yeah, it doesn't "scale", but that's not the point. I'm also not suggesting that Facebook is "worthless", what I'm pushing back on is the idea some people seem to have that this "someone has to organize an event" way of socializing is the only way. My way is a different way that works well for me (and I think lots of other people), and I'm certain there are lots of other ways, some of which benefit greatly from Facebook, and some of which don't.

> you will not ever be able to make any real alternative

This seems like a bit of a non-sequitur. I'm not sure who suggested they want to make an alternative. Certainly not the person you replied to, because that's me, and I don't want to do that :)


> what I'm pushing back on is the idea some people seem to have that this "someone has to organize an event" way of socializing is the only way.

And I am pushing back on idea that organizing events can be done equally without FB. When you say:

> I'm certain there are lots of other ways, some of which benefit greatly from Facebook, and some of which don't.

then we are basically in agreement.


We're taking around each other. You're saying "you need Facebook to organize events" and I'm saying "you don't need to organize events to socialize". It's two different conversations.


If they're your friends, why don't you have their cell #? This isn't rocket science, throw everyone in a MMS group or Signal group and boom, you can easily coordinate two dozen people to get together sometime on Saturday.

Facebook went in the rubbish along with High School for me, its been years since I last logged in. I doubt that cesspool will see me anytime soon.


Did you read the example? The point is coordinating (and negotiating) with friends-of-friends, when your friends expect to bring said friends-of-friends, without requiring your friends act as a proxy.

> MMS group or Signal group

I don’t see these as fundamentally different from a Facebook event; the point, in my mind, was to compare the class of digital ephemeral forums from the coordination strategies possible when you don’t have any such digital ephemeral forum available.

However, Facebook events have the advantage over MMSes, at least, of people who join/are invited into the event being able to see the history of the conversation so far.


Dear god, however did we survive before Facebook saved us all???


I know, Facebook is god, we can't socialize or plan things without it! /jk


It's not that you can't, but I won't invite you to many parties if I have to message you separately on everything. It's the common platform.

I have 2 friends that don't have Facebook, they get considerably fewer event invites, because it's such a hassle to plan with them.

When everyone was still of Facebook I also attended fewer events. It is something made easier by Facebook. The only redeeming feature if you will. But a significant one.


> I have 2 friends that don't have Facebook, they get considerably fewer event invites, because it's such a hassle to plan with them.

Maybe what they need isn’t more parties, but different friends. That’s not a judgement on you — I don’t know you nor your friends, so if you think the hassle of inviting them does not outweigh the pleasure of their company, that’s your decision to make.

But maybe they don’t care. Maybe to them not being invited to a few (or even the majority of) events is worth it, considering the alternative. If you’ve asked them and got an answer, I’d be interested to know what it was.


>Maybe what they need isn’t more parties, but different friends. That’s not a judgement on you — I don’t know you nor your friends, so if you think the hassle of inviting them does not outweigh the pleasure of their company, that’s your decision to make.

If everybody takes about 10 minutes of individual communication overhead for a party and you have 50 guests. then that's 500 minutes of communication of what might just be a simple 10 minute organization over Facebook. If some exceptions aren't on Facebook it's maybe less of an issue, but it still is a disrespect for other people's time.

>But maybe they don’t care. Maybe to them not being invited to a few (or even the majority of) events is worth it, considering the alternative. If you’ve asked them and got an answer, I’d be interested to know what it was.

I asked them, they both cited privacy concerns as their main reasons to quit Facebook (which is completely valid).


> I asked them, they both cited privacy concerns as their main reasons to quit Facebook

The question is not “why did you leave Facebook”, but “is not being invited to a majority of events worth it to you”.


Honestly speaking... the idea of going to a party that nobody cares to specifically invite me to feels super weird. Are parties the only places where you socialise with people or something? Would you feel that you’re missing out on something if you only met in smaller groups for more ad-hoc things?


Coming uninvited is less the point. But it's easy to just invite 30-50 people. It doesn't make much of a difference for small ad-hoc events (which I usually plan through WhatsApp, which is still somewhat a social network).


The number one thing is that you have to be reciprocal. As mentioned in a different comment I recently moved across the country to a new city where I did not know anyone. I would meet people at random events, connect with them, and then invite them and whoever else they wanted to bring along to different events I heard about when looking for things online. I was very aggressive in telling my friends about different events via text and organizing that way. I did this with 3-4 well connected people and then they started texting me about interesting things they found that I could go to and invite friends of my own. Once this was established both me and my friend(s) would text each other and ask about plans for the weekend.

If you're planning something large I understand that something like Facebook is required. But if you're just trying to get a few friends together I don't see why you can't do it via text.


> I really have to agree with this: using your friends as personal assistants is not cool.

From personal experience I can say: asking your friends to sign up with some questionable service, when you don't care about privacy but maybe they do... and forcing them to make a choice of either giving up on their privacy or being excluded from social activities... that's totally not cool either.


> Additionally, there are many opportunities I have discovered through Facebook that I likely would not have otherwise. For example, just last weekend I happened to be flying across continents and when I checked Facebook on my phone, I discovered a cousin I haven't seen in a while also happened to be flying to the same city on the same day. There would have been no reason to share this with each other, but because it was out there publicly I was able to see and organise time for us to meet. I often see content which prompts me to get in contact with people.

I can understand this point but I think you would agree that this is really a case of serendipity and is not reflective of the "average" interaction between two people are connected via social media but do not meet regularly face to face.

I went to high school on the east coast but now live on the west coast. I had instagram for a few years but stopped in late 2017 because the algorithm changes annoyed me. Most of the people in my feed where either friends from high school who I don't connect with regularly (and if I do it would be during the holidays) or local friends who I meet w/ every couple of weeks at the least. The level of 'connectedness' between me and my high school friends on the east coast stayed relatively the same (very low) once I stopped using instagram. I mean it was funny to see memes and interesting to look at what vacations they were taking but there was very minimal interaction then and there is minimal interaction now.


When people recommend that I quite Facebook I feel a little bit like I would if they recommended that I stop eating cookies. Sure - if I were to remove cookies completely from my diet there might be a marginal health benefit, as long as I didn't just replace them with something else. But really I don't eat cookies all that often anyway, it would be a pretty small change to my life. And when I do eat cookies I kind of enjoy it - sure I've had a bad one now and then but overall the experience is positive. Eating cookies isn't a big enough part of my life that I would really miss them in any meaningful way, but it's also not a big enough part of my life to feel like making an effort to cut them out would be at all worthwhile.

But hey if it works for you it should work for literally everyone else, right?


> I'm 26 and never used Facebook.

I'm 31 and I've never used tobacco. If people who used tobacco just made better choices they could be like me. They really need to ask themselves if tobacco really makes them happier. /s

---

I suppose it's a bit facile to compare Facebook to an addictive drug, but the idea that just because you've never used Facebook, nobody else should want to doesn't make any sense. Not everybody's circumstances and background are going to look like yours and people will have different needs. My friends probably have a very different dynamic than your friends so what works for you might not work for me or vice-versa.


A lot of the Facebook deletion advice comes down to: "I'm hypercompetent at managing my social life and am constantly invited to important events by direct contact, and barely remember what it would not be like to be that way, therefore I don't see a significant downside to immediate cessation of all FB use."


I don't advocate Facebook deletion (or the opposite: people can do whatever they want as far as I'm concerned), I just constantly forget to use it. So your comment doesn't ring true to me: I'm not anywhere near socially "hyper competent", my life just isn't organized around being invited to "important events". I just go to work, go home, and ping my friends from time to time or respond to their pings if I want to hang out. It isn't clear to me where Facebook would be a critical tool in any of this.


Well I think the fact of the matter is if you want to get rid of Facebook and / or social media while maintaining a social like you MUST become hyper competent at managing your social life.

I moved across the country and had to rebuild my social network from scratch without social media, you can do this through sites like meetup or checking local event calender's.

Once you meet some folks who you want to know better you can exchange numbers and quickly set up a coffee, tea, lunch, dinner thing and then get into the habit on checking up with them to see what they are doing. Once I established this relationship with people they began to invite me to things every once in a while, do this with 3-5 well connected friends and you should have options every weekend.

People are outsourcing the management of their social life through Facebook, if you want to stop using Facebook you really need to take back control of managing your social network.


If you're 31, you've had facebook for what 11 years of your life at most? How'd you survive the other 20.

Needs, that's comical. Facebook is not a need.


I could obviously live without a Facebook account. My social life is just better with it than without it. Your circumstances might be different. The point is that everybody's circumstances are different so just because you don't derive value from a particular product or service doesn't mean that other people don't.


If you're going to be super-literal about the word "need" then we can include pretty much nothing other than water, food, and shelter as "needs." But we wouldn't have a very useful conversation if we did that.


I am a musician and we HAVE TO follow the trends to get shows. Used to be a bunch of tools, (I.E. myspace/reverb nation/bookyourownfuckinglife...) but now facebook seems to have dominated DIY events and concerts. Groups help with people to share shows and I'm not really aware of another tool that the majority of people will use to get shows booked in my community.

Even if another tool exists how would I sway people away from FB and to a new tool?


I like going to see small bands, and it's easiest to find them using Facebook.

I "follow" two local promoters and a couple of venues, with the setting to show their events at the top of my timeline.

Friends share events they're going to, and Facebook's algorithm shares them too.

I used to use Last.FM, but stopped checking it once everything seemed to be on Facebook anyway. I still use it if I'm travelling to another city.

I used to get a printed flyer from the promoter when I went to a gig, but they have mostly stopped printing them.

I'd prefer not to have to check 10 promoter/venue websites, magazines or whatever. They probably don't have RSS, and are usually less-complete than Facebook.


ditto here...musician and you basically have to be on facebook. Fans don't check every band & venue website calendars. It would have be great if average folk figured out RSS.


>using Facebook because it makes event organizing and the like easier...I'm always kept in the loop because I text my friends and ask what they are doing this weekend and/or meet with my friends regularly enough that they let me know what's going on. It's become well known that I don't get updates through FB so my friends will text me invites if I haven't asked for an update.

In other words, you're demonstrating an exception that proves the rule. Organizing events (without Facebook) is not a linear problem, it's a problem where each subcomponent scales directly with the number of people involved. Maybe not O(n^2), but at least O(n*log(n)). Every change to the planning of the event has to be spread to and approved by every attendee, requiring independent contact of each. Facebook centralises this by providing a central organization system that it is as close to guaranteed as possible that everyone has access to. This brings it back close to being a linear endeavor.

Just because you claim you aren't benefiting from Facebook's competency in this area doesn't mean you aren't. You said it yourself: your friends know you are the outlier in this planning, so they can can remember to contact you separately without adding additional time complexity. They can handle all the other nuances of planning directly on Facebook and you gain the benefits without having to interact with it.


I think this is... fine? Are we concerned about our friends not using Facebook or are we concerned about you yourself not using Facebook. I don't see a problem with letting your friends organize things on Facebook and getting pulled into the loop by a member of the group.


Thing is, when facebook isn't the primary platform this doesn't have to be an O(n^2) problem. Throwing everyone in a group, whether it be on Hangouts or Signal isn't terribly hard, nor is sending out an email invite if you'd prefer that vector.


> I simply try to make it a habit of catching up when I'm in town

Yes, but how do you do that? My long-distance friends are constantly moving address and changing phone numbers. Facebook (or an IM app, if they happen to still use the same one they used to) is the only way I know to figure out how to find my friends when I get back in town after a year or two away.


most of my contacts didn't change their email address in last ten years so you could always reach them through email if you don't have their whatsapp


This is true for organizing small events with friends but unfortunately for larger events like local concerts and such it gets hard to keep track of all the shows happening as someone active in the local music scene.

Not to mention how difficult it is to put on shows without facebook promotion.

Unfortunately Facebook is practically only platform where all the shows I care about are organized on.

That being said, I've recently got off and now I depend on friends who stay on Facebook or word of mouth which has worked out, but I don't put on shows.

Unfortunately Facebook has it's place.. for now


> Every phone can still receive SMS and you can gasp meet your friends personally to catch up.

Sure, if you friends live next door. If they live on different continent, a bit harder to do. SMS is also pretty inefficient. I mean if one of your friends' daughter won a prize in school contest and you want to congratulate the happy father, that really can't happen over SMS. Unless the father is going to spam everybody in the contact list with the news, and get a wave of spam back. That'd be horrible.

> It's become well known that I don't get updates through FB so my friends will text me invites if I haven't asked for an update.

You friends accommodate you and make extra effort to adjust for you. Good for them. But that doesn't mean it is the best way to do things. Maybe Facebook isn't either, but this way doesn't seem to be any better than Facebook. In fact, it's worse.

> Now for friends who live in distant locations you need to ask yourself: Does Facebook status updates really make me feel more connected to this person? My answer would be no

My answer would be absolutely yes.

> There was life before Facebook and there can be life without Facebook, stop making excuses.

Why I need any excuses? Facebook is an instrument. Just as any other. No excuses are needed to use an instrument, and nobody owes anybody any explanations or excuses when they use tools they like. You prefer to use different tools? Good for you. Doesn't make any difference to people that have different preferences.


The problem Facebook papers over is something that could and perhaps now should be fixed by open protocol.

The people most attached to Facebook —the people who will never give it up until it's clear it's dead— are those who want to conveniently share what they're doing with real life friends and family, as well as see what they're doing. They want a social network that everybody uses.

I think it's easy for us to forget that when we're yammering on about the problems with Facebook. The way we fix that isn't bitching about Facebook; trying to get them to be a better Facebook, or having silly dreams about writing a competitor. We don't need another Facebook, we need a better technical expression of a social network.

Something so fundamentally different that allows it to be decentralised from the gaping maws of companies like Facebook, simple enough for grandma, and built into everything; as prevalent as SMS and email.

We're not there yet. Given the powers that control these things are also the people making and selling the devices, I'm not sure we'll ever be there... But that's the problem to solve.


It's not about making excuses, it's about Facebook being the best tool. You could say that with anything, of course I could live without a car, without a cell phone, but they make the life better an easier.

When I invite Family & Friends to my kids birthday party, if I were to do it without Facebook i'd have to have the phone or email of every single one of the people. I don't, it's difficult to keep a contact list updated with every phone or email address. I try to do it but Facebook does it better. It's much easier to not forget people. The suggestions are great. It's also an easy way to RSVP, something a phone would make very difficult to handle.

Also yes Facebook makes me feel much more connected to people. Most of my family is global, my parents live in France, I have quite a lot of friends in France. Same for Canada, and also spread out across states in the US. I only see my sisters, parents, about only once a year. I would be terribly sad if we didn't post updates via Facebook. Yes we call each other via Skype, but it doesn't allow to share the activities we have done.

The only way I would ditch Facebook, is if there is a better tool that does the same things.


> It's interesting to see how many people make excuses for still using Facebook because it makes event organizing and the like easier.

One of my favourite tweets, from Mike Monteiro:

https://twitter.com/monteiro/status/321048448889663488

> I’ve heard excuses from people who want to quit Facebook but can’t that would make heroin addicts blush.


You need to accept that Facebook adds value for some people. Maybe it doesn't add value for you, but that's no justification for extrapolating your personal experience to everyone else and assuming they are making excuses.


Momentum. I'm part of an organization that uses FB to communicate things to members. Yeah, I could try and get them to change. It's not worth my time. I just go to FB when I need to do business with the group.


Not everyone has good friends like that.


Hey folks, John Biggs here. I wrote this as a reaction to reason news and it comes at the end of a slow boil. I think we can make better tools than this one and I believe Facebook - and other social media - were originally quite useful and have now devolved due to market pressure. I'm definitely a hypocrite, as well. I still use most things to _broadcast_ not communicate and that's primarily because I've spent 20 years journalizing and am used to the constant, one-sided flow of information. That said I deleted all social apps except for Twitter and, for some masochistic reason, LinkedIn and am ready to tear it all out of my life step by step. It's a poison.


I killed my account somewhere around 4 years ago. Overall, I am probably a better person (interpersonally / socially) because I have to actually talk to people in order to "catch up". However, there are some difficult downsides. For instance, given that basically everyone else that I know still uses it, all of my friends now have to single me out with a text when they create an event and want me there or post about something they wanted to get the news out about. Basically, being the one (or one of the few) non-facebook user(s) in my friend group effectively shifts the burden of communicating with me to the person communicating, from the app that was specifically designed for mass communication. So expect to be left out of the loop a lot. Expect to lose some friends (because you won't communicate with all of them anymore). Expect to have to put more effort into maintaining your friendships (since you won't have that constantly opened communication transport that you can easily use).

That being said, I'll never go back to using Facebook. It changed my behavior patterns too much and I was just not happy.


I've experienced the same things and believe that the requirement to put more effort into maintaining friendships has been a large positive for me. Particularly given that I have been a poor communicator my entire life. The phone calls that I have been forced to have with friends since I stopped using social media have drawn us much closer -- at least in part because a phone call is far more intimate than a series of text messages.

Nevertheless, I do think some people are perfectly capable of using both social media and more traditional forms of communication. I don't think I'll ever attempt to achieve that balance given the other ills of social media that I've found myself susceptible to, but to each their own.


I really appreciate the fact you call yourself out as a hypocrite. A hypocrite can still be completely correct (we are all sinners, after all) and I think society would be more well right now if people understood that fact.

I too have been slowly weaning myself off Facebook. Step 1 for those who want to but can't bring themselves to is to just be logged in on your phone or tablet. Has done wonders for me.


My approach was to simply delete the Facebook app. I can still use facebook.com in my mobile browser once a week if I want and I don't get any push notifications.


Do you mean you only are logged in on your phone or tablet? This seems like the antithesis of what you want. I have removed it from my phone so now I can only log in on a computer. It has made me so much more happy to not have that temptation there with me all the time.


It's much harder to use the browser app on Facebook than desktop. There is much more UX friction, which is a benefit in this case.


Dude. Just delete it already. Once it's gone you'll quickly realize how much it doesn't even matter.


This. Killed mine 7 years ago. Nobody died. Still fully employed. Still getting invited to more-than-enough social events. And my family appreciate getting hand-written Christmas cards once a year.


I took the less drastic step of limiting to one day a week. I visit on Tuesdays only, usually just once or twice.


Hi John, just an FYI: if you have Facebook Messenger installed on your phone, you are probably giving Facebook a lot more data than you think.


Can you provide any additional detail about that? I can’t tell if you’re referring to FB mining the contents of the messages, or the app doing unscrupulous things in the background.


The NSA says they only monitor communication metadata. But that's already a lot of information. Let's imagine a scenario where FB can't read your messages, so it doesn't know what you talk about. But if you talk to people who are mostly Trump critics according to their Facebook activity, Facebook can probably categorize you as a liberal. If you added a new friend of the appropriate gender for dating, and your communication intensifies, Facebook can probably guess what's going on. If it intensified and goes quiet some evenings (predominantly weekend evenings), well, guess who's seeing each other (each guess come with probability percentages).


The latter. I don't have specific examples in mind, just that if you do not trust a company's data collection policies, the collection capabilities of an installed program are much greater than when viewed through a web browser. See [1] for an example from a few of years ago.

[1]: https://gizmodo.com/facebooks-messenger-app-logs-way-more-da...


Facebook Messenger on Android can read call log


Can't you avoid this (on recent Android versions at least) by disabling all permissions? That's what I did.

(I'm sure they're still analyzing the messages I send and how I interact with the app, of course.)


Hello,

Do you know if it's the same for WhatsApp?

When you think about it, it's kind of alarming that FB, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram are all owned by the same company. I can't even imagine the amount of data they have about us.


Does the same hold true for WhatsApp?


Why "except twitter?" I find Twitter to be 100x more toxic, 1% as useful, and infinitely worse design.


>Why "except twitter?" I find Twitter to be 100x more toxic, 1% as useful, and infinitely worse design.

Twitter is all about your filter. I have mine curated to an amazing list of intelligent thoughtful, creative people who I enjoy seeing post every day, completely devoid of politics. As soon as you leave that bubble though, it's an absolute nightmare.


As a very light user of Twitter, I undoubtedly follow far fewer people than most power users, and I'm still overwhelmed by retweets of poorly threaded and displayed conversations that are wholly without context.

I've tried dipping my toe into following this F1 driver or that tech star, but it seems like the content is 100% tangents and 0% relevant to anything I might care about. I just can't get past that hump. And again, that's following very few people.


> I've tried dipping my toe into following this F1 driver or that tech star, but it seems like the content is 100% tangents and 0% relevant to anything I might care about. I just can't get past that hump. And again, that's following very few people.

Again, quality over quantity. I don't follow anyone with more than a few thousand followers because then it becomes a weird hierarchical, pub-sub, "celebrity" kind of relationship, rather than just communication between peers. Follow the guy with 300 stars on GitHub making weird new stuff, not whatever "online personality" is pushing their blog and building a huge follower base.


unfortunately, twitter seems determined to ruin this for users, with features like "* liked this" and "You might like" showing up in users' timelines with no ways to turn them off.


I have yet to see anything really intelligent and thoughtful in 140 (or even 280) characters.


As much as I think most of Twitter's userbase comprises one of the worst cesspools on the Internet (yes, really), you can fit a hyperlink and short commentary to something well worth reading within a tweet.

Its function as a personal RSS feed can still be pretty valuable, and I see no reason why you can't be judicious with your follows and entirely avoid the toxic majority.

I have a Twitter account that's barely more than domain squatting from the early days of the service; at this point I follow probably five people and have logged in a dozen times in almost a decade. But when I do, my feed is dense with fascinating stuff. If I were to spend a little time curating, I could probably get to a lot more volume and still keep the high quality of the feed.


How many was that?


Same goes for Facebook. No one is forcing you to follow people who post about politics.


Personally, I have the opposite experience. It's likely because few of my IRL friends are on Twitter, but I like the commentary of the tech folks I follow. They seem to be on Twitter rather than Facebook. And since few of my friends use it, I don't feel the same "ego projection" pressure as I did on FB.

Sure, maybe I'm better off without either, but I think if you exercise some diligence you can craft a useful experience on most social platforms.


I'm not going to necessarily disagree. My wife and I don't use twitter. Except when 'something is going on'.

When there is a local event or situation, Twitter is pretty valuable. For example, when there is a Caltrain strike, it's almost always more efficient getting details on Twitter.

Can anyone suggest alternatives for such use cases?


I believe the main alternative is to drastically cut down on the amount of news that's consumed - which may or may not be something you need to do. Otherwise, how about listening to local radio for a short while when you're getting ready for the day or doing chores?

I'd say for most people, there's really not much true value that comes from news (compared to books). Sure, it makes us feel more informed and provides topics of conversation for friends and strangers but really, it produces so little nearly all of the time.

Unless your job or hobby is closely linked with news or activism, so much of it is simply consumed as entertainment to idle time away.

However, if your usage of it is so infrequent and only for finding out about transport disruptions; maybe it's not such a problem that needs an alternative? Or perhaps not knowing wouldn't really inconvenience you that severely anyway - that's entirely up to you.


> When there is a local event or situation, Twitter is pretty valuable

That seems like a perfectly fine use of Twitter. Not sure why you'd need an alternative?

You don't have to maintain a list of people to follow and watch your feed to get utility out of it.

I mostly interact with Twitter on a case-by-case basis. Either via events, looking at a specific users profile, or coming across tweets via the media or on Reddit.


Yup, this is absolutely my only use of twitter -- realtime events, following hashtags (which of course the native client still (probably) doesn't support, conferences, etc.


This. I've been on twitter for more than six years now and I still don't see the useful/worth side of it.


Twitter is indeed quite the mixed bag - I don't recommend for anyone to take the habit up but I think I'm starting to see why it's still so popular:

It can sometimes be more toxic, but I've heard it can also be really great and lead to more real-life interactions compared to Facebook if you can build some trust. The breadth and depth of talent is also much larger, because you're not limited to "friends" from your own past. Because you'll encounter more strangers directly, you're free to follow random people a lot more without expecting them to reciprocate it (compare this to the obligation of accepting friend requests on Facebook).

There's also a bigger endorphin rush when someone with many more followers acknowledges one of your replies or tweets (through a like, or even retweet) - this just never happens on Facebook, and Facebook Likes from "friends" pale significantly in comparison because everything (including reshares) blurs together. To get better at Twitter (and not end up on the losing side of debates), you really have to strive for it and learn from the quality of other well-liked replies. Usually humor goes a long way and there are often some genuinely funny and original posts on Twitter (again, because of the greater pool of talent to bump into).

As others have said, if you follow the right people your feed improves significantly but there is quite the learning curve and trial & error until you get there (I'm still working on this part). It's remains primarily a procrastination tool for me, so I don't recommend those who aren't already using Twitter a lot to try harder at getting hooked.

Breaking news of all forms happens lot faster on Twitter due to the number of journalists present as well as normal users "on the ground" (the search works really well), however I think we should ask the question of how much news we really need in our daily lives and whether it affects us / changes our lives all that much. It's pointless if we're not prepared to act on it and becomes just another form of procrastination.

After I deactivated Facebook earlier this year, I found myself focusing more on Twitter - so far that's actually been a better experience overall. But based on that, I'm thinking from this week that I should just fire up a computer game every time I feel like idly opening Twitter - it could turn out to be a more productive experiment if I can segment my time better. Replacing one habit with another slightly-better and enjoyable one always works. I need to learn to shut down the information-hungry part of my brain more often so that it can stay focused on stuff that I really do need to know (almost never news).


Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I can see how you're much more likely to grow and gain friendships and professional connections through Twitter the way you describe it. I agree, I use Facebook almost exclusively for connections with real-life friends, which is what I like about it.

I can't say I don't get some level of enjoyment from approval of Likes and so on, but it has more to do with the enjoyment of the connections I already have. I don't have the desire to seek out new people or get liked/appreciated by people I don't know. I don't really mean this as a judgement, perhaps I would once I got rolling on it, but from where I sit it's not something I desire/seek out. It sounds like you didn't, either, though -- until it happened naturally as you moved away from Facebook.


What are your opinions on less personal social media sites like Hacker News and Reddit?

My enjoyment with Facebook ceased the moment Edward Snowden became a household name. I realized then how naked my information was in a world of bad actors. I only use Facebook as a simple contacts list these days.

But it’s harder to wean myself off HN/Reddit, as I get more value of useful information from the former and entertainment from the latter, than I have ever received from Facebook, even though both sites can lend themselves to mindless consumption and propaganda/manipulation, like FB.

Is there a “right” way for social media to be? Or are we resigned to a muddy middle ground forever?


Did you say Reddit? I'm really curious how to tolerate it, since the comments seem oriented more around feelings and me too or kneejerk anger than anything substantive. Also the comments are one-liners. Are there particular subreddits with intelligent people you'd recommend?


Not the parent but every time this question gets asked here it usually gets a few responses along the lines of "the more specific the topic the better the content/community generally is" and I'd agree. A few I enjoy are r/homelab, r/programming, r/Economics, r/networking, r/AskHistorians, and r/ColorizedHistory.


It really depends on what subs you choose.

The defaults are cesspools. Just plan on nasty things being said back and forth to each other. In reality, the defaults are worse than 4chan, which is saying something.

However, the moment you start getting into tech subs and narrow hobby subs, the SN ratio cleans right up. Yeah, there might be a single spam, or some rude person, but they are the exception.

Reddit's like Usenet. The more people in a general group, the worse behaved they are. Go look up "Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory" -- so true..


I found some of the best stats/ml community out there on reddit. Try r/machinelearning and r/statistics.


Honestly I just use Reddit for entertainment. I know there are substantive subreddits out there, somewhere, but most of the subjects I care about understanding and discussing come through HN anyway.


You must use much different reddit then I have.


Which is actually a real thing, since each person's subreddits really do create a different experience.


/r/Neutralpolitics is great.


Yes. /r/politicaldiscussion isn't quite as good, and certainly has a certain 'lean' to it, but it tolerates differing opinions pretty well.


> It's a poison.

That's the truth. I quit Facebook and most similar sites, and my social life improved quickly. I also get a lot more done without those distractions.

I block all of their companies in my hosts file and avoid their software libraries (React, etc.) whenever possible too. The company is having a terrible effect on the world and should not be supported. It was fundamentally broken from the start. A platform that connects all the world's people already exists -- it's called the WWW.

I know people who are desperately trying to quit, but they can't, because the site has locked their social connections within the platform, and they are addicted.


I'm curious, what are you primarily using LinkedIn for, that you find it difficult to have already gotten rid of it (in the process of stripping out the other social products)?

I've stalked LinkedIn for years looking for a way to undercut them with a superior competing product. I've never really found what I consider to be a very high value angle of attack that looked like it could cause a big enough wound to bring down the beast.


This is fascinating to me - I know LinkedIn is valuable, and lots of people describe it as an essential account they can't get rid of. Meanwhile, I can't work out what LinkedIn is even for.

I update my profile there occasionally, but only to not have out-of-date info being spread. It occasionally produces a low-quality contact or recruiter spam. That's about it. My peers don't keep theirs up to date, my employers don't use it as a major hiring source, I don't trust endorsements there as meaningful or predictive. The interface is enormously frustrating, and it's not even a particularly good job board.

Is there just a parallel ecosystem of people who engage with LinkedIn so deeply and consistently that it forms a real network? Is software just a low-LinkedIn-use field? What on earth are people doing on that site?


I've had an account on LinkedIn basically since it was available to the public. I stripped my account bare years ago and never use it for anything. I log in about once per year to check privacy type settings and maybe change a password.

From my observation, LinkedIn has had three relatively distinct eras for the product.

In the early days it was very simple work & business networking, as you'd expect it to be. A profile + connection between people.

Then it tried to evolve into a more general purpose tool, including publishing content, some communication, etc.

Then having fully captured its market, and with limited upside growth potential on users, it went full spam abuse engine. They kept ratcheting up the user monetization focus regardless of the damage to the product quality, and it has never turned back from that path.

I think LinkedIn is a social hole, where people deposit an account and information out of perceived necessity, and then rarely engage the product again until they change or update their job situation. There appears to be a shield of social-work pressure that keeps it alive and updating. People use it, so people use it. The value proposition certainly appears to be mediocre over time. I've known very, very few people that have gotten much value from it, yet almost everyone I know (that is non-retired) keeps and maintains a profile at a minimum level.

I suspect now that social media has reached a point in the last ~5 years of all-connected status (just speaking of the US here), it's going to become increasingly socially acceptable to quit platforms that were previously regarded as necessary. More and more people will experiment with rejecting the pressure that has been maintaining these networks artificially. I've seen that happen increasingly on Facebook, and LinkedIn often seems to be a graveyard these days.

I don't see where LinkedIn can go from here, in terms of increasing its value to people. They're very clearly not going to return the product to a less annoying, basic use case that sparked the user build-out in the first place. They may find a few more clever ways to monetize their hostages though.


> I think LinkedIn is a social hole, where people deposit an account and information out of perceived necessity, and then rarely engage the product again until they change or update their job situation. There appears to be a shield of social-work pressure that keeps it alive and updating. People use it, so people use it.

This is a fantastic summary, and something I'm going to think about with non-LinkedIn contexts as well. At this point, I update LinkedIn so it won't be out of date, and keep it alive so I'm not confused with other people. (And because deleting the thing looks like more of a pain than having it...)

It's an entirely defensive posture, and I only go to LinkedIn to pour information in, rather than to take anything valuable out.

Actually, it makes me think of those stupid "communication for recipient only" email disclaimers. They probably don't carry any legal weight, but once they got common some companies worried that if they didn't use them it could be brought up in court as evidence that the communication was shareable - so now everyone adds 5-10 lines to their emails just to get back to where they were before the meme ever started.


Indeed, this summary seems fair. I've been keeping a profile up to date mainly because I thought that potential employers might look me up and probably think me too weird if they couldn't find me on either Facebook or LinkedIn. I definitely don't want a Facebook account.


This seems pretty on point. Personally, I deleted my LinkedIn account ~a month or two ago after realising it serves no useful purpose for me, and earlier today deleted my Twitter account (also mostly unused). Never had a Facebook account, so no action to take there.

GitHub is the only "social" platform I still have involvement with, and that's because it's actually useful. ;)


I feel the same way. None of the people with whom I work directly make use of linkedin at all, yet whenever I attend a business event or networking something or other, people look at me as though I just sprouted a tail when I tell them I have derived zero use from linkedin. It has only annoyed me with its spammy emails and pernicious alerts to invite people I might know, I can't fathom how it is an enjoyable experience to use for anybody.


I use LinkedIn exclusively as an online resume with the occasional message to contacts asking for advice or asking about details for a job. The social aspect is lost on me, as well.


For a journalist the answer is simple: Finding sources. Many of us have accounts solely to find an expert in a field or a person within a company to talk to.

Why anyone else uses it I have no idea.


In developing countries like India and Eastern Europe, there are many posts with hundreds and thousands of likes and comments. There IS an ecosystem of users who engage with linkedin deeply. HR recruiters and entrepreneurs publish long insightful/motivational pieces which give them leads and publicity. Then there are also those '+1 if you're interested in this job' posts, which garner plenty of comments.


entrepreneurs publish long insightful/motivational pieces which give them leads and publicity

Serious question: does this actually work? I'm considering a "content strategy" to build brand trust, and one option is to publish on LinkedIn. I'm pretty new to using the ecosystem for anything meaningful though. I'm in the middle of my "free trial" of the +1 level (Pro? I forgot- whatever they try to get you to sign up for...).

But if published content actually gets read, or if at least people search there when trying to learn more about somebody, then I'll consider it.


I have some thoughts on a LinkedIn competitor. Want to chat?


I was skeptical for years, nervous that I was now broadcasting even more info about myself than I already gave to the likes of Facebook and Google before it was too late. I was worried about now giving my employment history. Well, I finally did and got a ton of interviews out of it, much more quality recruiters than Dice which has become a spam nightmare.

I guess everything has a price.


You're deleting old posts, yet you're keeping all the messages from Messenger. And even if you would delete them, your friends would still have a copy, which means Facebook has one too.


I hope you realize that facebook keeps all information you are deleting in the back end. You are completely wasting your time.


[flagged]


reason news?

I'm guessing he meant "recent news." Perhaps it was auto-incorrected or faulty speech-to-text.


Clickbait much? The writer is struggling to delete his facebook account?

"Will you delete Facebook? Probably not. Will I? I’m working on it." So much drama.

I can help:

How to delete fb account: https://www.facebook.com/help/250563911970368?helpref=hc_glo...

You can also download your data before deleting it: https://www.facebook.com/help/1701730696756992/?helpref=hc_f...

I will delete mine when you delete yours: https://www.facebook.com/johnbiggs


My understanding from the Cambridge Analytica stuff is that even if you completely wiped every bit of data from Facebook's servers, it doesn't matter any more. Your personal data, attached to your name, is out in the wild. For a price, someone can buy a detailed psychological profile of you.

All of our genies are out of all our bottles. They aren't going back in.


This is somewhat true. However, if you stop adding data to your profile it becomes stale. Since I deleted my facebook profile I moved cities, bought a house, a different car, and have new friends in real life. My old FB profile is probably still a good indicator of which way I'd vote in an election, but it's useless now for targeted advertising. The only way to make that break is to delete your profile now; slowly over time your real life will start to change and eventually won't resemble the digital you at all.


> but it's useless now for targeted advertising

What makes you think this? According to another recent article about Facebook's data collection[0] says:

> And it showed these odd patterns; that, for example, people who liked ‘I hate Israel’ on Facebook also tended to like Nike shoes and KitKats.

This gives me the impression that even mundane bits of information can be used to extrapolate other connections through intelligent guessing.

[0]: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/data-war-whistl...


Data gathered from browsing websites that share data with FB (by third-party tracking or by direct acquisition of data from other companies, I'm not sure if FB does the latter) and from apps that include FB libraries (a surprisingly high number of apps) can still be associated with your ostensibly deleted profile.


Yeah but I get the feeling that current data is worth way more to facebook and data brokers in general than old data. Having data to make projections is nice but being able to experiment in real time with active data is probably the dream facebook is built on.


This times a million. Delete the FB account now, install uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger, and the data about you that's out there will become increasingly stale.


I thought it was only if you had used Cambridge Analytica's Facebook app. Is it bigger than even that?


If you, or any of your friends (even a single one, since defriended).

Facebook App security started out extremely lax, letting you pull all info including pictures about anyone visible to the user of said app.


The app also pulled data about friends of people who used the app, so if someone in your graph used it, you may have been scraped.


Pretty sure Facebook's "delete" is just a Boolean toggle called isDeleted with everything else unchanged.

But I guess this is the best we have.


Well think of it this way: all of that data facebook put time, effort and money into collecting from you will become less and less relevant as soon as you delete your account.

I wouldn't be surprised if from facebook's point of view they'd rather collect 1/100th of your data as long as it's current data vs just a bunch of irrelevant old data. Pull the plug.


> I wouldn't be surprised if from facebook's point of view they'd rather collect 1/100th of your data as long as it's current data vs just a bunch of irrelevant old data. Pull the plug.

I would be surprised. Most data and preferences change very slowly or never (race, political affiliation, religion, sexual preferences, musical preferences, food preferences). And much of the data that does change frequently, like location and employer, can be sourced from other sources (linkedin, voter registration, donations, your bank and phone company who gladly divulge a lot of info -- did you read the fine print?).

Your old flame, your old classmates, your parents, brothers and sisters, the name of your first pet (used for password challenges) -- these things do not change.


Will GDPR change this?


It will absolutely change how Facebook treats EU citizens; otherwise, they risk extremely large financial penalties.

May 25th is GDPR Day. The day when you can withdraw consent to be tracked, stored, or processed by businesses with dealings in Europe.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/nightmare-letter-subject-acce...

EDIT: To clarify, GDPR applies to citizens of EU member states globally.


So this doesn't really work. You think you deleted it, but when you "re-activate" your account, there are backups that bring back most of the data from the starting date of your account to just before you deleted it - plus or minus a day.


Also, a) they never really, truly delete your profile (mine, which I deleted in 2013, is still present in some form) and b) one or more shadow profiles will probably pop up, at least giving the impression that you are still on FB.


Heheh, his last FB post was ~4hrs ago. I guess the cancer has progressed further than he first thought.


I must be part of an A/B test where I only see baby pictures from friends and family, updates from local businesses, and videos of cool construction equipment from TechInsider.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels could improve on the margin, but realistically, the problem with social is us. Ask friends and family to go back to sharing their unhinged political views in the form of badly punctuated emails, as God intended. If they continue to share, unfollow.

Social media can be as polarizing or as pleasant as you make it. Foisting blame on Facebook might feel good, but it won't solve the problem.


This is my experience also.

I've largely stopped using Facebook, but my experience had nothing in common with the author's.

The content was fine, I followed things and people I actually liked and made adjustments when that changed. I felt no addiction loop, my usage time was limited, and it was honestly quite a nice site. Sentiments like "In the absence of human interaction we cling to whatever dark simulacrum is available" are absolutely alien to me; Facebook was a source of real social interaction, and almost entirely additive with other sources of real interaction.

I stopped because advertisements, autoplay videos, and timeline changes slowly made Facebook unusable as a site. Content I liked was consistently buried in favor of content I didn't like, in ways I couldn't fix with settings or following preferences. The discussions of Facebook usage time rising baffle me; my experience was of a good, usable site that destroyed its usability by trying to monetize.


> the problem with social is us.

No. Facebook proudly does specific psychological experiments on its users. Facebook intentionally decides that it will make some users sad or depressed, just to see if it can. And it can. And it is proud of it. Facebook is proud that it knows how to make you depressed, so much so that they published a paper describing how they made hundreds of thousands of their users fall into a depression.

Facebook is a fucking poison. The problem is not with us. The problem is with large scale propaganda networks and centrally-controlled social networks with misaligned incentives. The problem is Facebook and the core problem is the structure and incentives of corporations in our current not-well-enough-regulated capitalism.


That's actually very interesting, never heard of it. Can you link the paper?

Or did you just made that all up, hmm?


Emotional contagion through social networks

Adam D. I. Kramer, Jamie E. Guillory, Jeffrey T. Hancock

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jun 2014, 111 (24) 8788-8790; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1320040111

https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1320040111


Thanks. I'm aware of this report and it's definitely awful what they did and they should be shamed for many years forward.

But there is big difference between comparing moods induced by negativity and "Facebook is proud that it knows how to make you depressed, so much so that they published a paper describing how they made hundreds of thousands of their users fall into a depression."

OP statement is misleading and tabloid worthy. The goal was not to cause depression. It lasted one week and they didn't try make someone depressed or kill him.


[citation needed]


realistically, the problem with social is us. Ask friends and family to go back to sharing their unhinged political views in the form of badly punctuated emails, as God intended. If they continue to share, unfollow.

This is certainly a problem, but I think more important than this is the illusion of having control over what you see on social media.

You may think you can curate your social media feeds by unfollowing people who share things you don't want to see, but as long as a social media service's feed/timeline (and primary revenue stream) is still based on an easily gamed algorithm and paid ads, you're mistaken.

Social media sites will cater access to their API's to groups who are willing to pay for it. So, even if you can unfollow your uncle who shares "unhinged political views", you can't hide cleverly disguised, hyper targeted, ads, advertising both products and ideas.


All good points. I would take issue with "cleverly disguised, hyper targeted, ads" as it relates to a lot of the discussion around FB's influence on the election. I'm guessing the person "swayed" by an ad depicting Jesus arm wrestling Satan to settle the 2016 election was not really on the fence to begin with.


This is true. The psychological effects of anything are due to how one uses it. It doesn't matter how addictive something is made to be because a good deal of the addiction is psychological. Opioids are very addictive, but most hospital patients don't use outside of the hospital after their pain has been treated. It's because their pain is not psychological. People can become addicted to Facebook, and yes it was designed to be this way, but I can use Facebook for the purpose I intend if only I am self-aware and know my limits and can stay within those limits.

It's really like anything you can do-- anything. The threshold is defined by the person. The absolutist claim that anything is 100% bad is dangerous and false.

The tools we make and use are defined by us individually. The "mob" is the collection of people in certain echo chambers, and I'm sorry but if those people don't realize they're in an echo chamber, it's not the fault of the tools. We can't be going around limiting everything because the majority don't know how to use it. The majority will always be that way-- though I will note that I think this "mob" majority are better-equipped psychologically with each passing generation.


I was talked into creating a FB account by some friends a long time ago. I found that I was losing respect for my friends, as it brought out the parts of them I did not want to know about.

I also noticed a disturbing pattern straight away. FB was pushing these little games at me. The questions in each of the little games were nearly identical to the questions in psych and personality tests I was required to take in the military. To the best of my knowledge FB does not have the clearance for this data, so I deleted my FB account and blocked their domains.

AFAIK, I have not really missed out on anything important by not being a member of that system.


how about #deleteSolcialMedia?

it's not just facebook doing this. twitter, pinterest, reddit and countless others do the same. heck... there is even a story today about google: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16610088

and yes, i know some people will say... but that google story is about law enforcement using warrants... which i will counter with, doesn't matter, it shows that these companies don't care about your privacy and will fold in "defending" it when challenged.

if you care about your privacy, don't give _any_ company, _any_ information about you, in _any_ way.


While I agree, there is a huge difference in impact. Facebook has more users, reach a way bigger demographic and has access to a much, much, much broader range of data. Not to mention is has instagram and whatsapp too.

It's two order of magnitude bigger than twitter, reddit, pinterest, etc.

The only ones that compares is Google.

But while I have no problem living without a Facebook account, living without Google is way harder. E.g:

- no hangout is the easiest. I hated it.

- dropping calendar was easy. It was not that good anyway. I missed the integration with a lot of 3rd party though.

- I leaved gmail. It tooks years and many problems with accounts came with it. The competitors UI are worse.

- I tried to leave gmap. But competitors don't have street view, shop open shedules or nearly as accurate traveling times. And waze eventually got bough by google. Maps.me is alright for when I don't have internet, but it's nowhere close to gmap for big cities if you have internet.

- I tried, very hard, to quit google search. Bing. DuckDuckGo.Qwant. They are ok. But I do hundreds of queries a day. Ok doesn't cut it. And if you are looking for result in another language than english, forget about it.

- now for the phone. Well, I won't go apple. Mozilla and MS are no longer here. I tried SailOS for a year. I don't recommend it. So android is what's left if you want a smartphone. I tried rooting, but it's dangerous, and takes time. So now I just avoid using a google account on the phone, which is, well, something at least. And make it extra hard to install apps.

That's a lot of trouble for so-so results.

Who else than a privacy savvy nerd is going to do a 10th of it ?

So to me, no facebook + ublock + no google account is like when I stopped watching TV 20 years ago. It's 80/20, but for privacy instead of sanity.

However, let's all remember HN is a niche, and that most people still watch tv, don't use add blockers and would not even have a though about personal data.


I've had the opposite experience with DDG. While DDG itself resolves about 85% of my searches just fine, getting the hang of the !bang syntax has really elevated my search game without compromising a whole lot. I've been 6-months free of Google as my primary search engine, and see no reason to go back.

Insofar as other steps, I shut down my Twitter account (with a dictionary word username) last year as an experiment to see if I'd care enough to resurrect it before the account was deleted--a 30-day span. I didn't come back to check again for ~40-45 days, and I don't especially miss it. That was enough for me to realize how little value it provided me.

(Never really bothered with Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and the like.)

This year I'm looking into non-Google alternatives for my family's email and common functions (calendaring, etc). It's a slow slog in between a ton of other priorities, but the importance of decentralizing again is growing non-trivially.

Also, I plan to resurrect my blog/personal site for the first time in, spitballing here, about 8 years now. Putting my content back on my terms and reversing the tide in my own way.


What's wrong with iOS? I use Google-Android right now, which is arguably the worst possible choice. iOS seems to be a lot better for privacy.


Apple was part of PRISM so I don't believe anything they do about privacy is anything but for PR.

But as for why not iOS, it's more a choice of brand. I don't like apple products, they restrict to much for my taste.


Facebook's raison d'être is to be a reflection of your real life identity. In that way it is unlike all those other social media sites you mentioned. Sure you could use your real identity on those sites but it's not required and many people opt not to and it has no impact on their ability to use the platform.

Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater here. I know black and white thinking is very appealing but we don't need to go back to living in a yurt in the wilderness just because facebook is a net drain on society. I've been participating on forums all over the internet for the past 20 years and it's been the catalyst for some of the greatest things in my life.



what about github lol


i know you meant for that to be funny, but you are correct in a scary way. github has become _the_ place for sharing code and they (as you already have seen multiple times) have no problem in deleting or locking out repos when the first hit of a DCMA gets into their hands (without any verification to the legitimacy of the DCMA mind you).


The top comment on that story about google points out the main problem:

> 2. On multiple recent occasions, police in North Carolina have quietly been successful in obtaining search warrants that force Google to turn over these records. Rather than "standard" search warrants asking for the location of a particular suspect in a crime, these "reverse" or "area based" warrants ask for time and location data for all users who have entered a geographical area during a time of interest. The records returned are initially anonymous account numbers, and the police then make followup requests for identifying information of the subset of accounts that they think are of interest to the case.

Sure you can delete your account on reddit. They'll still track you as if you have one just like the facebook buttons or all those creative new tracking shit we regularly read about here.

In the end, you don't have to be an extremist. Just don't post everything and keep in mind that you are being tracked. This is the internet for you today.


I deleted my Facebook account in 2012. Haven't missed it. Let's hope this poor soul can finally be brave enough to find the close account button. Might not even need to write a script to do that.


When I deactivated my account about 4 years ago, I thought it would impact my life more than it did.

I have actually strengthened my friendships and moved quickly up in my career as a result of deleting most social media.

Social media is like the dessert of the internet. Use it sparingly.


I log on to Facebook twice a year, to let people know that I'm still alive, and to delete older posts and tags.

My concern is that if I shut down my account completely, someone else--possibly Facebook itself--could credibly impersonate me on the platform and thus use the idea of me as a means to target my friends and acquaintances that use it more frequently.


I deleted mine around the same time, but it was easy for me because a) I was pressured into having one in the first place by work colleagues, and 2) I don't actually have much of a social network. The few months I spent with FB was like most human social interaction is to me: vapid, meaningless, and utterly tedious.

My understanding, though, is that others don't have this same experience with real life social interaction, so might not as easily notice how much FB amplifies it.


Agreed. I deleted my account 2 weeks ago and haven't looked back either. Instagram on the other hand is still one of my favorite ways to share photos with my friends.

I think the facebook(.com) product has some serious soul-searching to do and if they continue to ignore their monumental problem -- it will not end well for them, nor their stockholders.


I think it's too useful a tool for managing my social network to delete. Event planning, group chats etc are actually pretty HARD to organize without something like it. The impressive bit is the reach. Even my non technical friends and relatives know it.

I try to suggest people just stop giving facebook their information. Don't share anything, don't like anything, absolutely never install "apps" or click ads. Avoid facebook as a sign on provider to other sites. Use good privacy tools in your browser and never hit fb "like" buttons on another site. Avoid linking your accounts to facebook from other applications (instagram, spotify, ...).

I'd love to see a browser plugin that did all this that I could recommend to friends and relatives. A plugin that simply made a visit to facebook completely useless to facebook.


Maybe you're in a different situation than me but I can easily round up all of my friends with a few phone calls. "Hey Tony. I'm planning a party on the first at 6:00pm. Would you mind letting Sue and Mark know they're invited?" That also easily works by email and text if I insist on using technology.

Humans have been organizing into social groups and gatherings for tens of thousands of years without the aid of technology. Why is it all of a sudden people feel like they're incapable of socializing in any form without the likes of Facebook?

I apologize if my candor is overly blunt, but your comment is an excuse to continue your addiction. Nothing more.


I don't use it either for trivial things. But for example, we are 14 friends from 4 different cities that have been planning a trip for a couple of months now. Deciding where to go. Dates, Hotel choices, flight bookings etc are discussed. People have been added along the way that weren't in to begin with. That kind of thing that's ongoing for a long time, and has input from tons of people is terrible to do in e.g. an email thread, and can't be done by just getting together. Group discussions (long, persistent) like those is what I use it for mostly.

I'd switch to anything reasonably convenient for event planing - but phone and email just aren't replacements for all scenarios.

> Why is it all of a sudden people feel like they're incapable of socializing in any form without the likes of Facebook?

I never had that feeling. But I would find it inconvenient to plan a few kinds of events. I'd create a group skype chat. Or even throw up a discourse VM. But send a mass email to a large group asking for "so, where do we go on this years trip?" I would not...


Yea this excuse comes up all the time. Friends won’t invite you to parties unless you’re on Facebook? I’ve got some bad news for you: they might not be really good friends.

I stopped using FB so long ago I forget when it was, and I assure you it’s totally possible to have a robust social life without it... just like only a decade or so ago when FB didn’t even exist.


Have you looked at GroupMe? It has the ability to do all the "Social Planning" you need and you don't even need the app to participate in it.

I know it's more common with younger people (at my university there's not a single undergrad who doesn't have it on their phone), but I know some actual adults use it too.


I got rid of Facebook years ago. Finding a useful app for planning an event is very difficult, but just using email works fine. I just use calendar invites and I follow up with chat / SMS if needed. I can't think of any reason FB is better for chat than any other platform, but SMS group chat is available as a last resort.


GroupMe is good for event planning and group chats.


Try ghostery


I would recommend Privacy Badger over Ghostery - It's made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (non-profit) and is open source. Ghostery is proprietary and still collects & sells your data.


"It is a cancer." Spoken like someone who has to spend 6 months working up the nerve to delete his account. There's no need to get all ugly and overstated about it, like an overgrown teenager yelling & saying nasty things to his mom instead of moving out. Just do it and walk away.

Not that it's not a cancer. (Although it's more like obesity or type 2 diabetes, in that it's you doing it to yourself through many small bad choices.) But if it's a cancer now, then it always was one, Captain Newsflash.

Just walk away. Yes it is that easy. You'll never see half those assholes again and you'll be glad not to have to try to please them anymore. The rest that you keep around, well we call those your "friends."

People far away, you're not meant to "connect" with them. They're far away. Pull your head out of your butt and be where you are. If it was good enough for Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull to be completely unable to converse with somebody in New Jersey then it's good enough for me and you.

AND GET OFF MY LAWN!


> But if it's a cancer now, then it always was one

I wouldn't say that. It looked pretty benign back at the beginning. And then the noose started tightening, and tightening.... Frog slowly boiled.


Coloring my remarks is the fact that back in 2011, even I, at the time an ignoramus who didn't really understand much about "tech," could see that Facebook was a data mine and the experience was a sucky time-waster to boot. So I jumped out of the pot / slipped out of the noose / walked out of the room... etc.

The longer I live the more I realize that in a shitty situation the missing ingredient to make it non-shitty is usually not technology, or information, or time or chance or money or whatever other nuance... it's leadership. Which is the loose-fitting name of the bin in which I would also put something like quitting Facebook. Decision-making goes in there. Principles. Shortening the time interval between realizing Facebook is shitty, and getting out of it.


> Facebook simply replaced the tools we once used to tell the world of our joys and sorrows and it replaced them with cheap knock-offs that make us less connected, not more.

This resonnates with what I've been observing. Instead of birthday card, a call or even a text message, we now simply write a note on someone's wall, between two out-of-context thoughts. It's the path of least resistance. Like fast food, it takes a bit of effort to fight, until the brain hijack starts to fade and new purposeful habits are formed (or reinstated).

Working on it but not there yet... :(


Is there a reasonable, open-source, distributed Facebook alternative?

I presume built on top of RSS / Atom / something feeds that are available only on authentication (so I can share with limited sets of people.)

I presume I have to keep running a server to host content. Maybe I can host encrypted content for my friends, too? So, federated. Maybe it even makes it easy for me to bill them, if the costs are prohibitive?

I'm pretty sure I'd want an Android App to talk to it. The Android app would talk to all of the servers that host my friends' contents.

It doesn't let me share with "Friends of Friends" directly. My friends would have to Reshare, I guess. And then I guess I can't interact with them.

Not sure how I want conversations to work. It'd be hard for me to offer a server to my friends, without me having access to their social data.

Maybe everyone needs their own server?


Diaspora[0] and Hubzilla[1] exist, but never really caught on for various reasons, possibly nothing more than that they came out too soon.

There is a project to build a Facebook replacement that federates with ActivityPub[2], which would make it to Facebook what Mastodon[3] is to Twitter. However, I don't want to link it because it's in too early a stage to face HN levels of scrutiny.

There is also Patchwork[4], a peer-to-peer social application built on top of the Secure Scuttlebutt Protocol. It doesn't have all the features you'd want yet, but ticks off the boxes some people care about.

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

[1]: https://project.hubzilla.org/page/hubzilla/hubzilla-project

[2]: https://activitypub.rocks/

[3]: https://joinmastodon.org/

[4]: https://github.com/ssbc/patchwork


Most people won't host their own server. I am not speaking for the HN crowd. In general, people just are not interested enough in learning how to do this or stay on top of patches.

To answer your question though, honestly any blogging software that support good ol' fashion RSS feeds would be fine. Your group of friends could link to each others feeds. With a little effort, you could probably do this server side using some fashion of RPC call. Each language has it's own way to accomplish this.


I agree with the RSS point. There were complaints about content being hard to monetize with RSS but the way that social media spreads links seems possible (just put a summary and make the feed entry a link to the main content where you can have ads).

Some kind of feed specification like that and a diversity of publishing and aggregation platforms would be healthier than this walled-garden approach.


For the "stay on top of patches" thing, that's why I'm a fan of sandstorm.io. It makes a bunch of sense to me.

And, no, I don't want to broadcast info the everyone. A blog won't cut it.

I want to restrict content to some people with authorization.


For those cases, I have used software such as phpBB. Getting people to create a login is unpopular however. Some friends and I shared things similar to what one might find on FB. The distinct advantage was that our photos belonged to us and FB did not have access. The advantage and disadvantage is that my friends had to create accounts on my server. Centralized authentication services are low friction and high risk. If we move such things to another centralized service, it will just become the next target for snooping.


I think OAuth makes some sense. So, use your Google or Facebook account to log in, but that's it. They don't get more access to our data.


I suppose one sensible way to handle this would be if a group of technical friends ran a distributed group of OpenLDAP servers with OAuth and SAML2 providers in front of them. That way, if whomever was running the master could not maintain it any more, another friend could convert their replica to master and people opt out of the defunct auth provider.

The collective group of friends could then host services that use the common authentication framework. Between OpenLDAP, OAuth and SAML2, that should cover most self hosted applications.


... until they want it. And then they just give themselves an auth token and access the data.

"Unfortunately, ", said Facebook's spokesman, "we had a bug in our system that authorized our webcrawler to login and crawl every single phpBB or other OAuth site. We will surely delete the data within the next year", he added while winking at the intelligence community representatives in the crowd. -- a few years from now.


Ugh, that's evil. Yeah, that makes sense. Good thing to think about.


I don't think everyone needs their own facebook server (or diaspora in this case).

I'm more in favor of the federated approach where a couple people run servers for their community (I run a server for a fandom community I participate in regularly).

People that use my server play by my house rules, if they don't like that they can pick another server or run their own.


Diaspora?


So far this thread has not mentioned the Cambridge Analytica scandal. I recommend watching this clip from the PBS NewsHour: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-a-data-analytics-firm-....

To quote from the clip "Cambridge Analytica went to Facebook and said we’re conducting academic research with this app. Facebook apparently said O.K. and didn’t do a lot of diligence and through that, because they were able to get sort of the direct access from the people who installed the quiz app and then gather all the information from the friends of the people that had installed the app and that includes likes, you know their various posts, the pages that they subscribe to, just a ton of information. They were able to gather really detailed profile information on 50 million Americans."

The quiz was only a ruse to obtain much more valuable information. Sure FB recently ended their relationship with Cambridge Analytica, but they have probably known about this for months. There's a lot of anger at FB these days and deservedly so.


I deleted my facebook a few months ago. It's been great. I've spent a lot more time studying new things since I did. I feel cut off from the most toxic people I know and toxicity in general, which is also great. I still use instagram, which has become a more negative experience lately as ads have increased. Hoping an alternative to that pops up sometime soon - I use it now because I have a performance hobby where it's heavily used by my friends in the community. Never really got into any other social media. Have a LinkedIn where I get annoyed by recruiters but don't post or do anything useful, don't use twitter.


Your adversaries can always do more harm with information than friends can do good. This is because information "warfare" is fundamentally asymmetric: one incident, presented a particular way and targeted to a particular group can do great harm: someone somewhere will take offense to what you did or what you said, if a certain actor facilitates the travel of information to paint you in a bad light. Look no further than Twitter, whose functionality is effectively tailor-made for this behavior.

Facebook's original purpose stems from a time of naïveté: put all your interests and factoids about you here, where you can be yourself. As if anyone would use any of this to market you products, target you political ads, toy with your emotions by running A/B tests on your feed, or dox you to grief you in real life -- right?

So you pare down your friend list, you put your best face forward on Insta, keep your silly stuff on Snap, move your chats to WhatsApp, at which point your Facebook is nothing more than meme reposts, a rolodex of your acquaintances, and that one relative who always picks a fight with your friends on your political reblogs, yet you can't delete them because you have to see them at Thanksgiving. Your feed is 60% ads, but you don't care, because all posts are out of order, so you can scroll down until stuff looks vaguely familiar, then x out and return in a few hours when you're bored.

The author's points ring true, but Facebook is already past its prime, infested by overcommercialization, and no more harmful to the average person than the fifty thousand Google cookies they carry with them from their Android to their browsing with Chrome, or Amazon's uncanny ability to show ads for the exact thing you looked up from a different device yesterday. People deride the filter bubble, but what's the alternative; your private space full of people's stuff you can't stand?


Oh, and don't forget to share our article using the little facebook widget at the bottom...


John Biggs can use TechCrunch's platform to deliver his message without necessarily agreeing with everything TechCrunch does (such as advertising for Facebook via those buttons).

Additionally, if you're encouraging people to delete Facebook, your target audience is people on Facebook, so...


> Oh, and don't forget to share our article using the little facebook widget at the bottom...

These kind of comments add no value and rest on incorrect belief that either:

1) authors control the marketing tech stack on the major sites they write for or

2) they can afford to sacrifice audience for their messages, etc. in order to be hyper-picky in order to forestall internet heckles.

The truth is that neither of those things are true. Writers will write, activists will get their messages out, and that's their job. Sometimes they will criticize something so ubiquitous that even they can't avoid it totally, but that doesn't make them hypocrites. In fact, criticizing bad things that literally everyone does is the first step towards fixing those things. If stupid insinuations of hypocrisy like yours had any value, it would be impossible to make progress on many fronts.


I generally agree with this point, in the same way that I think that people are far too ready to call "hypocrisy" when the deed that is 'hypocritical' is just a small subset of the original 'evil'.

Having said that, I also think it's worthy to highlight the impact of the facebook sharing button, which isn't dealt with in the original article. The point is that it's not enough to say to individuals "don't use facebook"; you're still 'at risk' if you visit a site that uses the sharer widget, even if you don't have a facebook account.

As an aside to the aside, techcrunch has to be the first site I've encountered that redirects you when you scroll beyond a certain point of the article, or when you try to search in-page (unless that's a bug, of course).


How would you tell people on Facebook without sharing on Facebook? :)


That's not a bad idea.

From Facebook's perspective, dissatisfied users who delete their accounts are a sort of immune system response. The spread of contagious memes like "Facebook is a pointless, addictive time suck" are contained because those "infected" with them take themselves out of the population.

Rather than just deleting your Facebook account, if you spend some time using it to push articles and posts out onto your feed describing your position, then the memetic contagion can spread over Facebook. If enough people do that, it could hasten their collapse (unless they actually manage a heroic effort to successfully address the critics, not just a PR band-aid).


Most logical comment in the entire thread. Thank you =)


(Actually makes sense tho.)


Ten years ago when Facebook was gaining momentum, I chose to stay away, and remain so today. In recent years a new mantra has emerged: "I wish we could live without Facebook, but that's not practical anymore." Not true. It is practical, and infinitely more desirable.

Social media was never a meaningful way to present ourselves to the public or interact with others.


I deleted Facebook 5 years ago. In earlier days technology used to increase productivity but now technology reduces productivity, Facebook is one of the productivity killer.


> It is creating an echo chamber

It’s more likely the author created his own echo chamber.

My Facebook friends span the political spectrum 70% liberal and the rest some degree of conservative.

I would venture to say, 99% of political post come from my liberal friends. Some of which I will comment on, most of the time I get responses that aren’t logical and mostly insinuate I’m not a good person because I disagree.

For those people, I usually just remove from my feed. Not because I don’t care for their politics, but because they only want a one way conversation.

That is how an echo chamber is created and it’s their own doing, not Facebooks.


Can't help but disagree a bit with the premise that these awful properties of Facebook are something new.

> Facebook is using us. It is actively giving away our information. It is creating an echo chamber in the name of connection. It surfaces the divisive and destroys the real reason we began using social media in the first place – human connection.

I think it has always been more about "broadcasting ego" than "human connection", as the author admits two paragraphs later.

What's different today than when Facebook first launched?

While I applaud the effort to delete all your old posts and eventually the account itself, I wish the tone of this were more "we should be ashamed we let this happen" rather than "the good Facebook has been replaced by the evil one".

Broadcasting your ego--in fact your entire life--and selling it to random companies has always been your choice, not something Facebook recently started doing to you.


I would like to share my experience here because I think it was creepy on their part.

I only had <50 friends after 2015 on my facebook account. So, I would get notifications 1-2 times every week, "X is new to facebook, Since he is new to facebook, You should introduce him to more friends", Problem is,

1. I have no clue who X is! Sometimes I found that X lived in the same city that I lived in, Sometimes there was no visible co-relation. 2. X was automatically added to my friends list without my permission!

On several occassions, There were some people who were added as my friend but I couldn't find them on my friends list. The only way I figured they were my friends was when I received a notification and then visited their profile.

On 5-10 occassions every month, facebook will randomly send friend requests to people I don't even know and then some day I am just browsing and I get a notification that "Y has accepted your friend request" and I just couldn't recall sending friend request to that person.

So, Yeah, They were literally forcing me to be friends with people I don't even know, presumably, because I never clicked on ads and if I have less friends, That just means there is little activity in my circle and there is little information they can collect about me, IDK.

Whenever this happened, I usually took a screenshot, It probably doesn't do a solid job of proving my claim but it's something.

And before someone here starts running down a list of possible things that might have happened, Like someone hacked into my account, apps that had access to my account etc. I just want to say, I was a member of official 2600 magzine group, I posted all of this multiple times there and they did helped me a lot to prevent me from a lot of ways that someone might be accessing my account. I followed everything and it 6 months later it still didn't stop.


If you are the only person seeing this behaviour, it is likely a bug in their system.

Many ages ago, on one of the most popular mail and news systems of the day, it turned out that myself and another person both managed to register the same username, each with a different password, but were assigned to the same account.

After a couple of weeks in which each of us would log in, see the changes the other did, undo them, change our own password, and mail the abuse team (which kept replying "no, we see that you did it yourself on xxxx"), we both realized what had happened, and started talking by emailing ourselves. Eventually, the other guy left the account to me (I had it for 2 years when he managed to register it).

It could just be a bug, rather than malice.


It's didn't just happen to me.

Search for "Facebook adding friends without my approval" on google and you'll a lot of threads where people have had similar experience like me.

Here is one, https://www.facebook.com/help/community/question/?id=9079047...


I've definitely seen some weirdness happen with FB.. like I was following a favorite band of mine for a number of years, but suddenly they were gone from my list of follows and some photographer that had taken pictures for them somehow replaced them. Very weird.


> None of that will happen

Why not? My grandparents love looking through old photo albums. I don't see why I couldn't do the same with Facebook.

> It’s an advertiser’s dream and it is wildly expensive in terms of privacy lost and cash spent to steal that privacy.

A few problems with this. Op dates users freely gave away their data, but now advertisers are stealing it?

The same sentence can be said about the internet as a whole - but most people believe the benefits are worth it and op hasn't proved we don't get benefits from Facebook.

Lastly.. the article assumes allowing advertisers to use your data is inherently evil. I'm not arguing either way, but it's never explained. Lots of people believe that to be true, but I don't think you can just call advertisers "the devil" without an explanation. Why is op harmed by data collection (outside of nonsensical hypthotheticals, like getting his house robbed when he posts that he's on vacation?)


> I don't see why I couldn't do the same with Facebook.

Because it very likely won't be there anymore. Your grandparents had full control over their photo albums. You have nothing.

> Op dates users freely gave away their data, but now advertisers are stealing it? The same sentence can be said about the internet as a whole - but most people believe the benefits are worth it

Most people don't grasp the _extend_ of what they give to the advertisers. Not even in the slightest way. They still think that as long as they don't fill out a questionnaire, "they" won't know. Or what I give to Facebook, stays with Facebook and so on.

> Lots of people believe that to be true, but I don't think you can just call advertisers "the devil" without an explanation.

Their sneaky methods, lack of information and the whole attention stealing industry it is, is bad. Just the basic normal ad on the street is already exploiting us. The digital versions are even able to infect our tools. It's an uncontrolled mess. An anarchy of people who don't give a damn because they can. We'll never know the full extend of misuse happening with our data on daily bases. I don't see a reason to trust them. Do you?


Most people don't grasp the _extend_ of what they give to the advertisers. Not even in the slightest way. They still think that as long as they don't fill out a questionnaire, "they" won't know.

Right, it's like if you think about searching for some controversial thing and get as far as typing it into the search bar then think I don't want this in my permanent record and close the tab. Too late, every keystroke was already sent as you were typing! Surprise! Or an angry message that you think better of sending, the recipient might not have it, but it's still recorded and may or may not be used against you in some way in the future.


Yeah Facebook might not be around, but I'm sure there is an app that will archive everything so you could store it locally.

I don't understand your view though - you believe billboards are an exploiting everyone who sees them? That would mean all advertising should be stopped. I think many people, you included, misunderstand the economic benefit of advertising. It enables commerce that wouldn't take place if it was gone. If a Spotify competitor started out today with zero advertising it would never make it - how would you hear about it? How would anyone learn about it?

I work in digital advetising and see no reason to distrust the industry. Nobody is abusing data about you.. you are tossed into groups that contains millions of people similar to you. No advertisers cares who you are, about any of your data, any of your Facebook posts. They care that you just bought a razor and might want to try their new shaving cream.

I'm not sure what you mean by sneaky methods, but it's as simple as you visited a website or talked online about shaving, so now they know you're interested in shaving. Basic text analysis is most of it.

Edit - very true that most people don't understand it. But then again most people don't understand anything they use daily (the internet, any app, etc).


If a Spotify competitor started out today with zero advertising it would never make it - how would you hear about it?

I can remember when one of the killer advantages of online retail vs B&M was that in the former you didn't need to spend any dollars on TV and magazine and billboard advertising - word of mouth was sufficient. So I think that they would be fine.


> Yeah Facebook might not be around, but I'm sure there is an app that will archive everything so you could store it locally.

You've forgotten that those pictures belong to Facebook. So whoever buys them out from the remains of Facebook will do whatever they want with it. They may share it with you. They may not. Maybe they'll use it to train some AI and then discard it altogether. Maybe they'll put your head onto some porn star. Maybe China will buy it. Can you imagine, a Chinese man coming to your grandparents house and taking away their photo album? What would your grandpa do?

> I don't understand your view though

It's not a view. It's a fact. Did you even learn your job somewhere? Any scientific background to this "work in digital advertisement"? Ads steal your attention. You can't do anything about it and most of the time you don't even have any kind of profit from it. To say it in the new cultures terms: it's mind rape.

> I think many people, you included, misunderstand the economic benefit of advertising.

Please spare me that marketing talk. I do accept that there are ads on the internet. Sure. Some people even watch and click them. But just like the part you ignored in my previous comment you seem to intentionally forget about _extend_ here too. There is a huge difference between a cookie and a canvas fingerprint. There is a difference between a picture advertising a product and an autoplay video or malware infected script. There is an difference between an IP in your HPs log and a live track of a user.

The internet would have not gone bankrupt without the higher extend of advertisement intrusion. It's a lie to make advertising companies make even more money because that's what you do on the market. Their new product is data, profiles build upon that data (the more data about a single user, the more worth it is) and the continuous lie about the customer who WANTS their tips on where to spend money. I don't want those tips. I don't know anyone who wants them just like I don't know anyone who didn't want an adblocker installed. Think about it. The trust is gone. Forever.

> I work in digital advetising and see no reason to distrust the industry.

Of course you do...it's soothing for me though because such an amount of ignorance would be frightening.

> I'm not sure what you mean by sneaky methods,

Then you are a pretty shitty digital advertiser. You need to get some updates fast.

Edit@Edit:

> Edit - very true that most people don't understand it. But then again most people don't understand anything they use daily (the internet, any app, etc).

So you assume that this gives you a carte blance? I mean, this attitude by people from the ad industry is just another reason nobody trusts you.

Imagine, that I'd be tricking your grandparents into letting me into their apartment by brabbleing some tech bullshit about their cable. I wouldn't do any kind of work. They'd have no benefit at all but I'd have stolen their photo album.

With your world view, I had the justification to do it because they didn't understand a single word I told them to get in their house.

Would you like that?


Isn't it a great day today? :D


I suppose techies don't have much need for social interaction, but for those of us outside the tech world, Facebook survives because it's useful for facilitating social interaction. I use Facebook (and occasionally Meetup) to help organize local running groups and events. Fantastically useful for coordinating with multiple groups of people across multiple computer and phone platforms, separated by hundreds or thousands of miles. Nothing else comes close.

It sounds like the author primarily used Facebook to be seen rather than to connect, and so he views it as a cancer. He doesn't understand that Facebook is a tool. The problem isn't Facebook, the problem was him. He was the cancer, treating Facebook as a platform for aggrandizing himself. Good riddance.


> I suppose techies don't have much need for social interaction

Sure....


> I suppose techies don't have much need for social interaction

Humans in general need social interaction. That’s why solitary confinement is so psychologically damaging.

> Facebook survives because it's useful for facilitating social interaction.

Facebook “survives” because its social graph has many nodes and edges due to network effects. You admit to using Meetup, meaning that Facebook isn’t enough on its own for your purposes.

> It sounds like the author primarily used Facebook to be seen rather than to connect, and so he views it as a cancer.

You’re using it for that same exact purpose. If your events can’t be seen, why would you use Facebook?


>but for those of us outside the tech world, Facebook survives because it's useful for facilitating social interaction.

It's useful for facilitating connections with other facebook users. You're in a bubble.


> It's useful for facilitating connections with other facebook users.

And anyone willing to join Facebook to keep up with the event invitations. You don't have to post anything at all on Facebook to do this. I definitely know a bunch of people who use Facebook that way.


I'm sure Facebook is useful for organizing groups and events, but not everyone uses it (yet). I'm not signed up to Facebook (for what I feel have been proved valid reasons over the years), and I feel excluded each time it's required to participate in some event. It's good if organizers can use Facebook as an additional means of organization, rather than assuming it is both necessary and sufficient.


> I suppose techies don't have much need for social interaction

I don't know a developer who doesn't always have an IRC/Discord/etc running in the background 24/7 as they work...


Groups are Facebook's best feature to me and the only one I really care about.

p.s. Join us in Runners Anonymous.


Stereotype much? I guess we should all go back to our nerd caves to be forever alone.


I have a personal story from inside facebook to share. 5 years ago Facebook recruiter reached out to me and invited me to the W hotel in Chicago. I was very excited -not for the job- but for the opportunity to meet with senior Facebook managers and tell them about an evil thing Facebook does.

Here is the background story:

I am Kurdish from Iran. And Iran has many provinces. one of them is called Kurdistan. In Facebook profile section for Hometown you could pick all of the Iranian provinces except Kurdistan.

And at first I thought it was a bug. For years and years we submitted bug reports and collected petitions for Facebook they never responded why the Kurdistan province cannot be picked while other provinces could be picked.

Till one day, An internal document -guidance- leaked out of Facebook. That explained it all ! One of the pages was talking about Kurdistan. In which they had explained any reference to Kurdistan is considered terrorism. That was on the request of Turkish government.

In "Turkey", the word Kurdistan is forbidden. and many people in Turkey been prisoned for speaking Kurdish. however in "Iran" we officially have a province called "Kurdistan Province). and Iranian government recognizes the name Kurdistan for my homeland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_Iran

But Facebook decided to enforce the Turkish government racist rule on other countries that have Kurdistan (Iran, Iraq, Syria...)

Also in that leaked guidance memo. Kurdistan flag was considered illegal. And hundreds of Kurdish pages and accounts got banned for having Kurdistan flag.

While Kurdish flag is illegal in Turkey. Kurdish flag is officially recognized in the Constitution of Iraq for Kurdistan regional government.

So when they invited me to W Hotel to recruit me. I was like yes finally I can meet the people in person. Because as a Kurd I have no importance and they will never respond to me but a software engineer I am pretty attractive on the market.

So I asked the question from one of the managers. And told them my story this for years and years I send them emails and nobody got back to me and we made petitions about this so-called bug.

He said these things are decided by higher management.

I told him how often do you show this disagreement to higher managers or Mark Zuckerburg's policies if you have a different opinion. He responded if I disagree with them I wouldn't work there.

I left the W Hotel in Chicago 5 years ago refusing to proceed with a job on FB. I knew Facebook is on the wrong path. And today I see that prediction coming true.

Even today when Turkey committed a massacre in Kurdish city of Afrin, Facebook blocked many voices inside the city who were showing massacres by Turkish government.

10 years ago FB came after kurds and you said not my problem. Today they are coming after all of us


I listen to a podcast called OnTheMedia and they had an episode recently that talked a bit about the politics behind Google Maps. Basically it was about how GM draws borders and names locations in disputed areas (Palestine, Crimea, Kashmir, etc). They didn't mention FB or FB's rules on Kurdistan but you may still find it interesting.


Thanks for the information, is that NPR's on the media? btw Kurdistan Province in Iran is not a disputed area, it is officially part of iranian constitution that we have a province called Kurdistan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provinces_of_Iran) so in facebook you could choose any of the provinces of Iran, except Kurdistan.


Yup that's the right one. Here's a link straight to it: https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/on-the-media-2018-03-16


I don't think this is specifically a FB problem, but a problem that globally operating Internet companies in general face: You will be dealing with different groups and countries that have different views about things, and it is next to impossible to avoid being dragged into these political issues. Take map services as an example. There are lots of controversial borders out there, and no matter what you do, you're going to to antagonise someone.

There are also things like data protection laws like the EU's "right to be forgotten" that allows an individual to request the removal of their personal information. Of course, you're now dealing with the situation that the EU is effectively trying to enforce its rules worldwide since the information would not just have to be deleted for users from the EU but for everyone.

In the end, there is no perfect solution, and it comes down to who has more power to impose their will on these companies. In your case, FB is clearly more afraid of getting into trouble with Turkey than the Kurds. Same goes for a lot of what China wants.


That is not the case in this case !

Let say FB wants to do everything Turkey wants, Fine ! ban Kurdistan word and Kurdish language for inside Turkey. (sounds horrific but just to go with your poor loginc, lets do that) BUT still according to your logic...

INSIDE IRAN- word kurdistan is not forbiden, Iran OFFICIALLY has a province called Kurdistan, it is on Iran's official Map.

and I am a Kurd from Iranian Kurdistan, and facebook deleted many Iranian Kurds for posting Kurdish material.

That is a flat disgusting targeting an ethnic group.

That is a no brainer, do not make it like Facebook is an innocent company, trying to not get dragged into regional conflicts.

All I am saying they first came for Kurds you said not my problem. That is a regional Others Problem.

Now they are coming for you. Taste it ! Facebook will screw all you over so bad. just wait and see it happening !


plus you missed out on the ending part, which FB managers told me they are discouraged from disagring with policies of Mark Z


My partner is still on facebook, she has a "crazy aunt" who posts all manor of sensationalist bulshit, so she blocked her. An this is the crux of the problem, the complete information warfare asymmetry, this aunt is still plaguing her little pool of friends at the push of a button several times a day.

We could try and talk to the aunt, get her to stop, how difficult would that be? Probably very, and likely to cause offence. And if we extrapolate out how can we possibly get the millions of social media dopamine fiend "crazy aunts" out there to think more carefully about the bullshit they spread around the world?

And so another platform is lost to the bottom feeders.


> Facebook is using us.

It's funny how people are just now realizing this.


Has anyone ever done an analysis which compares the "social media" in the book "Ender's Game" to our current social media?

I haven't read the book in a few years but if I remember correctly there was some sort of global discussion forum / social media which was used to steer political and social discussion. Ender and his siblings wrote tons of articles under pseudonyms and became quite influential.

15-20 years ago this might have sounded like a viable way to do global communications but looking at the current click-baity social media with all its Fake News it looks like we are very far away from a viable system.


If I recall correctly, Ender’s Game basically assumed that the future would be like Usenet Netnews.


Turns out that deleting your account doesn't stop them from tracking you on every website you visit that uses their code.


Privacy Badger, Ghostery plugins are wonderful for curtailing this.


“I have nothing to hide” - most of the people

a pregnant teenager being outed by the store Target, after it mined her purchase data – larger handbags, headache pills, tissues – and sent her a “congratulations” message as marketing, which her unknowing father got instead. Oops!

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.

I found this article very interesting about FB - http://www.salimvirani.com//facebook/


There's something I never see talked about in all of these discussions around social media. There is the old refrain "If you didn't pay for it, you aren't the customer, you're the product." But I don't see people talking about that mantra as a useful tool.

We all rushed to use Facebook. We put our data on their servers, we uploaded our photos and watched them get resized, stored, and served. We use a service that costs actual money to run and paid them zero dollars.

Sure, they served ads, but we've all learned to completely tune those out when it comes to being persuaded to actually buy stuff, so that revenue stream isn't enough to keep the lights on.

That doesn't leave Facebook and similar companies with too many other options. I'm not saying they are innocent, but it seems to me that much of this behavior — data mining users, selling ads to the rich to enable them to influence elections, etc. — is a predictable outcome from incentives we put in place by our collective behavior.

If Facebook didn't do this shady stuff, they'd run out of money and get replaced by another company that did. In the cutthroat natural selection environment of the market, only businesses that make money — by any means possible — survive.

I'm sure I'm naïve and missing something, but it makes me sad that the obvious solution hasn't manifested — pay for stuff. A version of Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, etc. that had a monthly subscription fee would have less incentive to extract value from user data because they are already extracting money directly from their users. I miss the days when Reddit just had Reddit gold.

I suppose the answer to my supposition is that companies would do both. If you have the data, why not also pimp it out even if your users are already paying you. And, at that point, the goal becomes maximum users, which is gated by subscription costs, so those fees get driven to zero and here we are.

But I do wish a simpler business model where people pay for things they use could be successful and properly incentivize companies to act in our interests. Given that in a capitalist market, businesses fully expand all the way up to the boundary of the letter of the law (and often past that), I suppose there's little left to do but try to get strong regulations passed and vigorously enforced.

Given the fundmental network effects of social media, competition — the primary user-beneficient force in capitalism — is completely ineffective. Absent that, I think all we're left with is the law.


As a meme #deletefacebook has limited virulence because of self-termination. Probably #deletefacebookafterpostingaboutitthenwaiting would be better.


Off topic, has anyone noticed the really cool thing that happens when you scroll too far below this article? You end up at techcrunch.com, as in the homepage. I made a gif if you missed this or are on another type of device.[1]

I'm curious about how they did this.

[1]: https://cl.ly/qFLY


Not exactly the same, but here's a javascript plugin that can add more content to the bottom of the page as you scroll down.

https://infinite-scroll.com/


Does anyone have a script or app that can go in and delete every post I've ever made? Google turns up a few Chrome plugins that all look dubious. Be great to have an authoritative guide to deleting everything without fully deactivating Facebook (since there is still a lot of utility in it w/r/t rolodex, event planning)


I saw the one in the post, but it's a Chrome extension. I think this will be very useful for me, so I'm going to write a very simple one (basically you just log in with FB/Twitter/whatever) and it deletes every post older than what you specify.

It's going to live at https://forgetme.stavros.io/, if you want to take a look later on to see how far I've gotten. Hopefully, deleting posts will be doable from the APIs, and the app will be feasible.

I expect I'll have a useful app up in a day or two.


From the website:

> an application that will delete all your old posts from social media every so often, to help your privacy.

I’m not sure this will help with privacy. If you keep posting, you keep giving Facebook data and helping them build their profile of you. There’s no guarantee deleting old data from your timeline will delete the data Facebook has on you. To help your privacy, you need to stop giving them data (i.e. stop posting).


That's true, but privacy is more than against Twitter/FB. You can also have privacy against a new boss, a new friend, etc. You aren't the person you were ten years ago, there's no reason your opinions should remain somewhere, immutable.

Unfortunately, this is looking very hard to do as a service, as most platforms don't let you delete posts at all (e.g. Facebook) or only give you access to a very limited amount of your own data (e.g. Twitter, where there's no way to access more than your 3200 latest Tweets).

Especially with Twitter, corporations literally have more access to your data than you, as accessing old Tweets is only done via an Enterprise API, and not via the standard API or even the website. You cannot access your own old Tweets unless you pay good money for the Enterprise API.


Excellent - would love to test out when you are done


Bah, it looks like most platforms won't let you delete stuff through the API (of course). I'm going to look for some alternative method.


I did this by running a sikuliX script. Took about 5 minutes a day for a week to iron out all corner cases it got stuck on.


If you read the article, the actual tools to do what you say are linked from within it.


Worth noting. Some users have found they are unable to delete their Facebook account because, when they are asked to enter their password on the final screen, FB says the password is incorrect.

Seems FB has a bug where you must enter your password in all lower case on the final screen.

Imagine, big company like FB, having still not caught that bug....


Actually, that's intended behavior.

https://security.stackexchange.com/a/68014/47800


They can accomplish that feature using 3 separate hashes for various common mistakes, and it will still accept the normal case, but what GP is describing is that only a lowercase version of the password will work for account deletion.


It's most likely that they're using lower(password) everywhere, except someone forgot to use that on the account deletion page and no one noticed.


How convenient that they forgot to use it on the one action they never want you to perform


That's fascinating. Couldn't they just detect the caps lock being on and warn the user instead?


That certainly makes more sense for desktop users. But remember the UX dark pattern for mobile touch screen devices: default is to capitalize the first letter of every sentence. On particularly old devices even in password fields have this.

No caps-lock key on many of those keyboards. And, no warning that the shift key has been single-key or perma-pressed.


Reminds me of when I try to unsubscribe to a random newsletter. If it seems tedious to do so, even in the slightest, I don’t even bother googling or looking through the source’s website and ultimately move on. Wonder if this is what fb is trying to do.

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