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Americans are changing their relationship with Facebook (pewresearch.org)
254 points by gnicholas on Sept 5, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 179 comments



When I first joined Facebook, I used it like a typical social network back in the day (added as many friends, acquaintances, coworkers, etc as I could), with very surface-level interactions (pokes, shared cows and sheep with contacts, etc).

I would post interesting articles I read and make really lame quips about life or what I was doing.

Later, after I got married and had kids, I consciously experimented with posting photos of my kids. Engagement on my posts shot up. This led me to gradually phase out article sharing and life quipping in favor of kids' photos.

I still consumed interesting articles shared by contacts though. And the curated news that Facebook offered, even though I realized it had a risk of being an echo chamber.

Eventually, I started weeding out people who fell below the level of a real-life friend, because I didn't want to share family photos with them. Facebook became a place to share kids' photos and see kids' photos from friends and family.

Now, I mostly read reddit for interesting articles and discussions. Some Facebook groups are decent for that, but they never quite match the reach and range of discussion that reddit does.

Facebook is now my family-photo-sharing service. And even then, I've begun to slow down my usage in favor of other mechanisms for sharing kids' photos.

Some of my actions were motivated by privacy concerns. Some by conscious experiments in engagement. And some by the utility, or lack thereof, of Facebook in general.

I wouldn't consider myself a typical Facebook user, but anecdotally, a decent number of friends have told me their interactions with Facebook have matched mine.


I really liked the /idea/ behind google plus where you could put people into circles and selectively post to them.

- Family photos go to everyone in the family circle. - Articles about politics go to people in that circle (who might also be in my family circle) - Articles about technical topics go to people in that circle.

We all have different interests and contexts in our lives - like I might want everyone (close friends and acquaintances alike) to know I got married but only my very close family to know I got the flu last weekend.

The part (well last I used google plus which was a while ago) that was missing was sorting that the other way - so when my sister posts family photos it shouldn't show up in the 'news' group that I also have her in.

The interface for google plus sucked, but they got the right idea.


I think the idea of circles came from Diaspora.[1]

I've always suspected that Google Plus' design killed it. It was so bloated that it would barely run on my netbook with 4 GB of RAM. I think that if it had looked like Craig's List, without the gaudy Material Design animation, it would have been more successful (seriously). Google does data well and design badly.

[1] https://diasporafoundation.org/getting_started/aspects


It rapidly became clear that the burdens of curation of circles and figuring out which one to use made using GP too much effort. FB does have a mechanism like that but it's barely even known about, while the coarser "group" mechanism does seemingly 95% of what people would want out of circles.

One might consider it an example of "worse is better", though I'm not convinced.

(Wow, just checked and Google+ is still available. I'd thought it had already shut down like Orkut and Wave).


In so much as Google added to "the burden of refinement", in some ways it didn't go far enough. If someone I know posts cat videos and boardgames reviews, and adds me to both Google+ circles, how am I to subscribe to one and not the other?

This problem is bidirectional: which posts of yours will you let me see and of those, which do I want to see. But this is an even heavier ask.


I really loved the concept behind Google Plus. Really sad it didn't work out for them. I used it a lot, but it never felt quite right. Always felt "beta" and not quite polished. Which I was fine with, because I loved the idea behind partitioning my interests and social circles.

I know Facebook allows this to a certain extent, and I've set up a bunch of Facebook lists in the past. But it's much harder to use.


You can do this with Friends Lists in Facebook IIRC (I deleted my Facebook months ago), but it's not as obvious/front and center like it was on Google+


The issue with it not being front-and-center is that it's not the default modus operandi for everyone on the network. It's not just about how I'd want to share my content, but also how I want others to share theirs with me. I'm interested in my friend's adventures building a project, doing art, or starting a business, but not interested in their dog, their exotic tourism pics, or most of their romantic lives except for close friends. It would be nice if everyone I got connected to on my social media filtered me out based on what they knew of me, by default.


Would be even better if you could filter on your end. Users just tag their posts; "Pets," "Kids," "Politics," etc and then you can uncheck any tags from a friend you're not interested in, but leave the rest as-is. Maybe all checked by default but you could uncheck a tag directly on the post that bothers you.


> Users just tag their posts

"Just"?

That would be a disaster. It sounds like something that AI ought to be able to do fairly well, though, so the idea stands.


Defaults matter. A lot. I kind of wish G+ was a more successful competitor as it would have pushed FB to adopt this more thoroughly than tacking on an optional feature.


You can do that with Facebook too. You can make lists and publish posts to specific lists instead of just "Friends". You can also do "Friends except [list]" or "Friends except [person]", too.

I haven't taken much advantage of it, just some here and there. For example, there have been times I've excluded current and former coworkers (I was looking into moving out of town for a while—not anymore though—and I wanted to pick my friends' brains on suggestions for places to move to without it getting back to people I work with that I was thinking of leaving the company). Another example, when I was first beginning my gender transition and I wasn't yet out to the world, I would post about transition-related things to a list that contained the small handful of people who knew I was transitioning. And another, when my former best friend went down an extreme far-right rabbit hole and began posting bigoted statements, including using slurs, against groups that I'm part of, I a) put him and his wife on my Acquaintances list and started making 90% of my posts to "Friends except Acquaintances" and b) made a list of people I trust so I could get support for my feelings of being betrayed without tipping off him or anyone who might tell him (I stopped (a) after he deleted his Facebook account a few months ago... at that point, I threw his wife on my Restricted list, which is hardcoded to hide anything that isn't Public from people on that list).


With respect, keep in mind that your children will grow up and want to control their own social media presence.

Parents I know ask themselves, "do I have the moral right to post this photo of this (presently) small person, considering it will never go away?"


And yet, by and large, those same people fail to ask that same question in respect of grown-up persons and seem to have little hesitation in posting pictures of /them/ to social media where the pictures will also "never" go away.

Seems to me it would only be respectful to /ask first/ whether the people in some party snap are all OK with having their image posted somewhere, tagged and identified and sucked into somebody's gigantic social graph database, but this is clearly not the norm.


Yup, I'm very conscious of this. I wrote a longer comment in regards to this elsewhere in this thread.


I'm fairly similar. It's become a way to save and share family photos and stories.

That said, I find real value in that. I know what I share and save on Facebook is going to be there in 10 years, and probably will still be somewhere accessible in 50 years. Everyone pretends personal systems (where you are "in control") are safer, but I know how many photos and files I've misplaced over the years.

And Facebook encourages me to do more than just post blind photos, but also to give a story. I've looked through old photo albums, and the pictures become empty all too quickly. I could do all this on my own, but again I'll probably lose things or the stories and photos will become disassociated or some other mistake, or I'll be gone and no one will know or care to retrieve them from whatever system I've created. But even more so I need a reason to put everything together, and sharing it immediately with other people – people who show, even trivially, that they care – gives me a reason.

Facebook's Memories feature has already shown me that this is important – seeing something I shared one or five or ten years ago makes me realize these things matter to me.

Maybe other people have ways of doing disciplined documentation of their life and experiences and family that I don't. But I'm doubtful.


Have you put any consideration into the fact that your children might grow up and be rather unhappy to find out that their parents created a permanent photo/comment record of their life on the servers of an advertising corporation?

I'm glad I'm too old to have been subjected to that. Just thinking about what it would feel like to be one of those kids when they find out that they were robbed of any ability to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted that stuff out there makes my skin crawl.

Some parents I know seem to have mainly had their children for the purpose of using them as a social media fashion accessory. It's incredibly sad.


Yup, I think about that all the time. That's why I originally unfriended anyone that isn't family or a friend I know in real life who has already met my kids.

And as I learned about Facebook's (and social media's) privacy leakiness, I scrubbed my posts of all personal info (kids' birthdays, names, schools, etc) and many photos. My privacy settings are pretty tight too. In another comment, I mentioned several alternatives that I've been exploring for photo sharing - since the primary audience for these photos are grandparents, relatives, and close friends.

Unfortunately, I have a relative who's posted photos of my kids and definitely uses them as social media fashion accessories. It's lead to some awkward conversations and demands to scrub their posts of my kids.

As a side note, I've been having conversations with my oldest kid about social media. I even went through all of the photos I posted, asking if any should be removed. I already post very few photos - and when I do, I carefully curate them. My child was comfortable about all of my posts, but did feel embarrassed about a few from the relative I mentioned earlier. My child now also asks on occasion if I can take a photo and post it. Most of the time, my answer is No, and that I'd share it privately with family instead. But once in a while, I'll share it.


I've often heard of this, I understand the basic argument of removing someone's freedom.

I've managed to convince my spouse to not share many of our kids' pictures on social media due to some concerns, but I am unsure the worry about grown up people being worried about their pics as kids is justified.

Do you feel a person in the twenties or teens will be impacted by the fact that 10 years earlier their parents shared a cute picture of them?

I am trying to understand, not argue.


I feel the same way. My mom is a photographer. I still occasionally see old pictures of myself and my siblings in random articles.

I can't imagine how I could possibly be harmed by the existence of pictures of me as a kid. Yep I was once a child and photos were taken.

I made the front page of my home town paper for various minor awards a few times too. Should the newspaper have been concerned about the morality of publishing a photo I might someday object to?

There are pictures of me in hundreds of copies of people's year books too.


It's more about being fair on the kids, the only pictures of me when I was a kid was on photograph film, later digital but most pictures of my childhood are somewhere in the attic where they get taken out once every few years maybe. And while everyone can appreciate having those memories available, having instant access to them by friends and family isn't something I'd ever want as a child of my parents.


Now, I mostly read reddit for interesting articles and discussions. Some Facebook groups are decent for that, but they never quite match the reach and range of discussion that reddit does.*

I really struggled with the quality and intelligence of posts and responses on Reddit. I find them short, emotive, adolescent and generally noisy. However a lot of HN folks seem to enjoy it. What's the trick I'm missing? Finding the right subreddits, presumably?


It definitely depends on the sub.[1] You're right, many are very noisy. Startup and tech/programming subs don't quite match up to HN, so for those topics, I use HN.

[1] As an example, /r/AskHistorians/ is heavily moderated and high quality.


Yeah, default subs and the unfiltered reddit front page is awful. Just subscribe to things you really want to hear/talk about, block users who harsh your mellow and you should be fine.


The programming subreddits aren't as good as HN. I follow quite a few local subreddits (my city, Yosemite, etc).


This was exactly my experience except that I eventually left the service entirely.


>'ve begun to slow down my usage in favor of other mechanisms for sharing kids' photos.

Which mechanisms?


I'm still experimenting to find the right mix. I've tried Dropbox, Google Photos, Amazon Photos, a private site built from scratch, and a handful of paid private photo sharing sites. Haven't quite found one that I love yet, but I'm still experimenting and searching. Building a custom solution offers the most privacy, but it's hard to find the time to do it.


iMessage is my goto method for sharing kids pics these days. It’s on purpose to the people I know care and who I trust. Also private so no endless public record. And there are archived backups in the cloud. Perhaps some of my extended circle misses out this way? But it mostly seems to work.


Facebook could be reddit, if it allowed pseudonyms. The police-state-like idea of requiring real names ultimately limits its usefulness to a cohort-tracking network that grows old and eventually dies with the cohort.


I feel sorry for your kids.


> Eventually, I started weeding out people who fell below the level of a real-life friend, because I didn't want to share family photos with them. Facebook became a place to share kids' photos and see kids' photos from friends and family.

I'm fairly sure that the opposite is also occurring. That is, people who aren't interested in seeing a constant stream of your kids are weeding you out as well.

In the last few years, I've been aggressive in unfollowing people who post nothing but pictures and updates about their kids. It's not something I'm interested in seeing, and honestly I just can't identify with people who have kids. Seeing people who used to be close friends do nothing but post about their kids just reminds me that we no longer move in the same world.

The only exception is my cousin. I'm fine with seeing pictures of her kids, because they're family (in fact, I configured Facebook to send me a notification whenever she posts), but I'm not interested in seeing anyone else's kids.


I'm sure people are weeding me out too. I'm perfectly fine with that. Some of the people I unfriend are people who don't interact with my photos much, so I figured they've already filtered me out, or don't care to see such photos. I'd rather be unconnected to them than to clutter their news feed with posts that don't interest them.


Maybe Americans figured out it's not that much fun to post when you have to consider that your mom, your aunt, your employer, your future employers, law enforcement, the TSA, the NSA and foreign governments are going to read it. Long live pseudonyms.


There was this old and ostensibly authoritative page that was describing hacker culture. The author said that true hackers don't hide behind pseudonyms because they should be proud enough of what they do that they can put their real names behind it.

It lost me there. Not only am I not proud of my social track record through the ages, but the idea of "privacy is dead" online identification is quaint, naive, and/or intolerable to me. For better or worse, there's a sharp, strategic/emotional partitioning of how I interact with or present myself to strangers, friends, family, employers, and law enforcement, and the chilling effect applied to my behavior from all angles is very limiting.

LONG live pseudonyms. : D


I think you're probably referencing ESR's How to Be a Hacker post: http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html.

The commentary may have been more relevant in the 90s and more about people calling themselves random names and writing viruses, rather than contributing to Open Source with their names standing behind their work.


The intellectual ivory towers and shining cities I think we all want our primary public facing names to be on, at least in the fine print on some obscure plaque somewhere (like the credits no one watches at the end of a movie).

The grimy, day to day, forgettable things... not so much. That's the "being human" layer. Not many get to do their more ideal work as their actual job in society.


Of course there is.

If you want more of a discussion on this topic, I would highly encourage reading some of Larry Lessig's work on internet identity and "cyberspace". Code 2.0 is a good start. He viewed pseudonyms like you, very much as a feature.

The fact is, people act differently depending on their degree of anonymity, and there's a place for everything on the entire spectrum from pseudonym to real name only.


I swung too far and started using my pseudonym irl. Now I’m thinking I need new ones


There's no shortage of ways of looking past pseudonyms and identifying authors.


I can be identified. And until very recently, if you searched under my legal name, you found little or nothing about me online, never mind that if you knew where to look, there was ridiculous amounts of information about me online under various forum handles and blogs.

If you have really serious fame of the sort that means millions know your name, you may find it hard to obfuscate your activities. If you are doing something so bad that some government wants your hide, yeah, they may find you.

But for most folks who just, say, don't want their "respectable clients" to know their porn habits or something like that, having a nickname that your friends know you under separate from your "public"/professional identity can have loads of value and can be sustained for a lot of years without much effort at all.


If that were true, a great many more people would be locked up, or disappeared, across the world. Pseudonyms have been essential long before the internet, long before electricity. They should not be looked down upon.

Nor should they be a privilege. It is cute when a celeb adopts a "stage name". We don't really consider that hiding, but politicians use stage names too. When you want to actually research a person, say to find out if they have a criminal background, cute "stage names" become barriers to legitimate research. If the wealthy and powerful get to use pseudonyms, everyone gets to use pseudonyms.


Any devoted individual with sufficient will and power can track you down. Even with a little less power, will can do it. We rely on the fatigue of adversaries and limits on their time and resources. Any sufficiently motivated entity can find out who you are.


Any sufficiently motivated entity can easily bypass any kind of lock on my front door, no matter how much money/effort I put into securing it. Doesn't mean I should leave my door unlocked though.


Of course not. I don't think it need be stated on HN but just in case, security is all about probability, and part of that guess is how motivated your adversary is. If you do a good job of making it too much of a hassle to target you, you can get away with not worrying about being successfully attacked.

If you are a high value target, then you need to step up your game, but people always make mistakes and don't appreciate unusual attack vectors.


>> Any sufficiently motivated entity can find out who you are.

Then the CIA and FDB have jobs for you. There are a great many people who very effectively hide their online activities from even the best and most determined adversaries. Encryption, obfuscation, old fashioned trade craft, it isn't all that difficult to hide online. Anyone who deems the fight unwinnable has accepted an end to privacy.


I don't think it's unwinnable, but why would you put out the impression that it's not actually very hard to thwart any adversary? Note that the people who can truly get away with it are a very small bunch or they aren't valuable enough to target.

See Dread Pirate Roberts for a good example. People eventually get caught if they make enough mistakes and are sufficiently valuable to powerful adversaries.

May be we actually agree about how hard it is, but are saying different words, like when you say "a great many" and I say "very small bunch" (like a "great many" in light of the power of actors like governments and ubiquity of surveillance). But such a perspective of complacency expressed here could only lead poor folk to being too lax, and thus, eventually finding their security compromised.


The most impressive pseudonymous technology person I can think of to date is IceFrog, the brains behind the longest iteration of DotA 1 who Valve somehow unearthed to lead DOTA2 design.

People have tried to discover who he really is for over a decade, and only have a guess for his real name and age. Given that people have known of him since 2006 (for a twitter account with ~100k followers and known lead for a game with a million MAU), in this era, that's super impressive.


Didn't a LOL dev give IceFrog's name on the forums or something like that?


> true hackers don't hide behind pseudonyms

If there's one thing I'd associate with hacker culture it's pseudonyms, especially l33t ones.


Is it really about what they write, or about what they read? People were putting out information that all of the parties you mention could read long before Facebook existed. I still remember "NSA food" on Usenet. Those privacy concerns, while valid, have never become foremost in most people's thoughts, even among technorati.

Out there among the Great Unwashed, I suspect the issue is more about the value they get from reading. People read a lot more than they write, after all. People were already getting tired of watching all their friends' highlight reels. Then since the last election there have been far more fights in comments, and the feeling of being manipulated, and people pretty naturally start to wonder whether this is time well spent.

I'm not dismissing your concern, but I don't think it's particularly relevant to the OP. Barely makes a dent, really.


I love Facebook - or perhaps, I'm addicted to it - and have been for many years. I recently quit using it temporarily for a variety of reasons, and realized a few ugly things. First, it amplifies my own tendency to be argumentative. "Someone is wrong on the Internet!" seems more true on FB than anywhere else. Second, when I did go back, I realized I was just endlessly scrolling - a behavior the UI encourages - looking for anything interesting in the sea of memes, selfies, and nonsense.

Now, I allow myself back on only from a computer at home. I've removed it from my phone. It's still bad, but it's less bad. It saddens me, because I do like keeping up with old friends and new (it's especially great to see people that I lost contact with decades ago, and to keep up with the lives of my sisters and nieces and nephews some).

In the place of all that FB time, I've developed a love affair with my Kindle. I carry a paperwhite with me, and also the Kindle app on my phone, so I have two books going at once. It's so much better for my mind!

Today's two books: Strange Stars: How Science Fiction and Fantasy Transformed Popular Music, by Jason Heller, and The Better Angels of Our Nature, by Steven Pinker.

So yeah, the "value they get from reading" matters a lot. And Facebook has poor value relative to the addictive qualities and bad social habits they design into it. When I came back after my hiatus, FB put me through a quiz, and in an open answer section, I said flat out that the addictive nature was a serious problem. A little hook is good, but not too much! I think I said they should be selling candy, not heroin.


There's a model/theory out there about many of the problems in modern society coming down to our all being trapped in low-energy low-reward activities like watching TV or surfing the internet. They're just rewarding enough that we keep doing them, but also just taxing enough that they sap the energy we need to do or explore etc. I think there's some truth to it, though I wouldn't oversell the idea.

Facebook is clearly in the low-effort category. It's designed to be. That doesn't mean it should be shunned entirely - we all need to relax somehow - but it does mean it should be managed. For some people that means limiting time. For others it means increasing the reward side of the equation, which might paradoxically mean more engagement. I have a friend who's a moderator for a very large and active group there. She has made lots of friends that way, and it makes her happy. Good for her. For still others, a complete separation might indeed be the right answer.

The important thing is that no size fits all. Kids need to be taught how to make these decisions for themselves, and in the better school systems they often are. Given the newness of technology, I think a lot of adults also need such education, and sadly won't get it.


Your point about low-effort/low-return activities is interesting. Do you remember where you encountered this idea?


Reddit has become that for me sadly.


Second, when I did go back, I realized I was just endlessly scrolling - a behavior the UI encourages - looking for anything interesting in the sea of memes, selfies, and nonsense.

You pull down... something spins... sometimes you get a reward.

Can it really be pure coincidence that Facebook and one-armed bandits have exactly the same UI?


I suspect for most people you are right, but it isn't like we can measure and quantify either disincentive.

I know the chilling effect of the widened pool of viewers is real. I also know the quality of the feed is generally terrible.

What keeps me there is the quality of the groups (mostly people I don't know) and the somewhat reliable means of contact. I don't know anyone who keeps a phone number for more than a few years, but very few change social networks frequently.


Agreed. I'm far more concerned about how I behave at the local pub.


I think this is the core point. Surely drove me away from Facebook


Don’t forget advertisers!


Indeed, but not just pseudonyms, as over a surprisingly short time, you'll almost certainly uniquely identify yourself. You really need to be using and rotating "burner" usernames on a quite regular basis.

Unfortunately, some sites forbid this to varying degrees. HN perma-banned my primary IP address because I was rotating several times per year. As is their right. But savvy people will generally stay in lurk mode as a result.

Maybe that's the future: Most posts by bots, most humans reading only.


Facebook offers the promise of socializing and having easier access to your friends and gatherings.

The reality is that socializing on Facebook consists of posting memes and arguments. No one is closer together for it. Facebook doesn't meet it's promise (to the user, advertisers expectations I'm sure are met).


Bingo. My impression is that only a few leave Facebook because of principle. A hundred times more leave because it's not fun any more. I could argue that how much fun you have has a lot to do with how you curate your feed - mine's good for lots of laughs and only rarely much aggravation - but most people would rather just leave than make the effort to improve their own experience. Same as it is everywhere else, and has been since the dawn of time.


I find a lot of the groups really fun. Unfortunately far too many of them are cluelessly set up as public groups, meaning that your friends or coworkers or worst enemies can really easily keep tabs and even get notified about your activities within the groups. This makes them much less fun. Everybody needs a part of their life that is shut off from their work friends or even their blood relatives. So the otherwise really engaging Facebook group concept is heavily encumbered by yet again the old privacy issue, aka the "you saw me post that!?" issue. It blows my mind that this is still such a stumbling block.


Value of the content is what drove me away.

I tried with much effort to weed out memes and garbage content via the share feature. I'm interested in personal photos and status updates(not twitter-esque complaints). But I had little to no success.

Give me a "disable memes & politics" button and I'd probably be back that day.


Sounds like you should "just get new friends".

Who else is tired of hearing that worthless piece of advice? I don't dislike these people. Most of them I even strongly agree with-morally and ethically for the most part. Some I even disagree with. But they also wouldn't be on my "friends list" if I didn't value them enough to see their life shares and posts (Oh man Johnny took some amazing pictures of his new house, his new job must really be going well, good for him.)

But holy cow how disposable do you view people to just up and remove them out of your life because of a disagreement (cue someone replying to this post with a morally furious statement about some nebulously defined out-group they personally despise and why disposing of friends is okay because $group is bad)? Never thought I'd see the day where I actually miss pictures of babies, cats and food.

And no, this isn't an appeal to my friends to be apolitical and just stop having beliefs. I'm just fatigued with being bombarded with other people's vociferation at something $group did.

Give me a "disable memes & politics" button and I'd probably be back that day

Co-signing this statement.


> how disposable do you view people to just up and remove them out of your life

I think that's a bit of a false dichotomy. "Just get new friends" is definitely callow, but muting someone for a while on Facebook isn't the same as shutting them out of your whole life forever. I have a cousin I follow about half the time. He's usually positive and funny and I love to see what he's up to, but sometimes he gets on a really bitchy tangent about his job so I unfollow for a week or two while he and his flight-attendant friends talk about what inferior beings we passengers are. I'd never unfriend him, because I value the connection FB helps us maintain. Sometimes a bit of distance is part of maintaining the health of that relationship. Similarly, my "new friends" are often just humor/meme pages that help me get through my own difficult times. Curating my feed works. Telling people that it might work for them isn't at all the same as telling them to get new friends.

How disposable do you view people to just up and remove a connection to all of them because you don't want to take responsibility for your own experience on a site?


> How disposable do you view people to just up and remove a connection to all of them because you don't want to take responsibility for your own experience on a site?

Because I know a site isn't the only way to connect with those individuals. I didn't really interact with them much on the site to begin with. Said site has other exterior issues attached to it such as tracking and potential employers invading my private life. Ultimately the site has little to nothing to offer for me.

It's not about viewing humans as disposable. It's viewing and understanding that a website is a thing and in itself it is disposable after it no longer fulfills a purpose.


> Because I know a site isn't the only way to connect with those individuals.

Thank you for helping me illustrate the false dichotomy. The great-grandparent didn't seem to be allowing any space between full engagement and full disconnection. In reality, there are levels of connection. At my age I have family and friends scattered all over the world, some of them still moving to new cities every other year. I have friends from a ski club and a family camp who I will not see in person except during those respective seasons. Many others have similar networks. In terms of interactions per year with the entire set, "get new friends" and "leave Facebook" are in the exactly the same category. They're both ways of telling others to socialize less, to fit the speaker's own notions of right ways and wrong ways based on their own unique experience. I think that's presumptuous. Rather, I think we should help each other work with the tools we have to find something that works for our own individual circumstances. It's too bad other people are too doctrinaire to accept that.


"Just get new friends" is definitely callow, but muting someone for a while on Facebook isn't the same as shutting them out of your whole life forever.

Maybe I've misunderstood what the implication was supposed to be-in lived experience when told "just get new friends" that suggestion very often stopped short of offering anything further like "use the snooze function" (which I'm already doing quite a bit) or other recommendations to better 'curate' the feed.

It very rarely feels like a recommendation to improve the experience and a call to action, instead to sever personal connections.


> It very rarely feels like a recommendation to improve the experience and a call to action

If your friends are putting it that way, then get new ... oh, wait. KIDDING!

But seriously, I'm sorry to hear that. IMO the "unfollow" button needs to be more prominent, and its significance more clearly explained e.g. by a rollover tip. I find it incredibly valuable. Groups are handy too. I have one that's basically everyone but my religious family members, for when I swear or get political myself, and I use it quite a bit.

I'd also like an "equalizer" to turn certain topics up or down, but that's a lot harder.


You're not removing, just disabling. All connections are stored when FB is disabled. Better yet, messenger can persist without FB and stories are generally quality personal updates. Messenger is a great application.

I found curation of my FB feed was ineffective. Glad you've had luck though!


Hah, I like the implication that not being on Facebook somehow means you're willing to dispose all your friends.


There's no such implication. It's just one connection to those friends, and that's clear from context.


But holy cow how disposable do you view people to just up and remove them out of your life because of a disagreement

I’ve never de-friended anyone over a disagreement over particular policy but I have erased people from my life whose style of debate is just to shout personal insults at anyone who disagrees with them. There is unfortunately alot of that about these days. But I would still recommend it, you will be happier, and anyone who repeatedly called you “Nazi” or whatever at the drop of a hat probably didn’t take your friendship that seriously anyway.


An on point post. My friends are usually those who I value outside of their internet self's.

All our posting habits are up for criticism. And I'm not a fan of feeds that are entertainment or content consumption based. I just want to keep up with what's going on in my friend's lives and have the benefits of that network effect and their tools.


Social Fixer has been great at that.

i'm still puzzled why there are entire domains that I am simply unable to block/hide, though. For example, I never ever want to see any content from en.nametests.com on my feed. Not now, not ever. Yet I am unable to block it or hide it. 100% of their content is useless surveys and "what block of cheese are you?" quizzes, which I have zero interest in.

At the same time, Facebook actually tagged a URL from npr.org as spam when I tried to share it.


I would love a button to disable shares from people I'm not friends with (sorry mom, but I can't really do anything about a missing person or pet 2000 miles away), all posted links without any accompanying text, and disabling "X liked/commented on" from triggering an old story to pop back into my feed. That would pretty much make the feed not just immensely more usable, but possibly even a valuable tool.


> Give me a "disable memes & politics" button and I'd probably be back that day.

Personally I'd prefer that to be two separate buttons, but otherwise I'm right with you. Some days, I really need those memes.


If you aggressively unfollow garbage third party content shared by your friends then eventually your feed will be pretty clean. It takes some work though.


It's not about level of effort.

Trying to curate one's feed has strange, unexpected effects. Facebook's behavior is non-deterministic. I have completely depopulated my feed and repopulated it selectively, and to get the effect I'm seeking, it usually means deleting pages from my list pages that I follow. There's no way to follow a page, but keep it away from your feed. Thus to discard a follow feels like a ban/forget/delete action. To grasp what that means, you may wish to follow thousands of pages, but only permit two or three really good sources to supply your automatic home page feed. Then, browse your follow list and cherrypick based on mood. But facebook doesn't work like that. A follow is a follow, and 1,000 follows results in a randomized firehouse that ignores the idea that you might feel like browsing one thing in the morning, and another in the evening. The result: people hate their own feed, even though they might not hate any of the 1,000 follows.


I left on principle and stayed away because it wasn’t something that brought me knowledge or joy.

My only regret is that some people choose to do funeral announcements and other types of events on Facebook, which I miss.

As imperfect as it it, group iMessages have replaced Facebook for me.


I was talking to my wise daughter and her boyfriend about the ugliness of FB, and they said their secret was to unfollow argumentative people and join a lot of shitposting and meme groups. She gets her daily fix of bunny memes and jokes about Dune, and she's happy.


In addition to the constant memes and arguments, Facebook's ridiculously overreaching "community standards" that even affect private/secret groups have driven me farther away from it. I had my account tossed in Facebook jail for "obscenity" after a silly pic of a friend of mine and I - we were both clothed and on the beach, but both in swimsuits. Apparently that's even enough to trigger Facebook now, under the guise of "protecting children." In a group that's all age 18+ and a secret group.

And they have the audacity to test out charging for groups.


Users don't even leave Facebook, they stop logging in after a while. As you say you can curate your feed, but how many users understand that and what to deal with it? I seriously doubt that most Facebook users understand that they can influence what content they see. Facebooks isn't helping, it's not clear how the process work.


Trying to curate one's feed has strange, unexpected effects. Facebook's behavior is non-deterministic.

I have completely depopulated my feed and repopulated it selectively, and to get the effect I'm seeking, it usually means deleting pages from my list pages that I follow. There's no way to follow a page, but keep it away from your feed. Thus to discard a follow feels like a ban/forget/delete action.

To grasp what that means, you may wish to follow thousands of pages, but only permit two or three really good sources to supply your automatic home page feed. Then, browse your follow list and cherrypick based on mood.

But facebook doesn't work like that. A follow is a follow, and 1,000 follows results in a randomized firehouse that ignores the idea that you might feel like browsing one thing in the morning, and another in the evening.

The result: people hate their own feed, even though they might not hate any of the 1,000 follows.


> Facebook offers the promise of socializing and having easier access to your friends and gatherings.

The only reason I use Facebook: events.

I wish someone invented an alternative for it.


Facebook events aren't even particularly good for what they do. Because I'm in bands and have other social responsibilities, I wind up posting FB events. But FB really wants you to pay money to promote, or most people, even people you invite, will never see it.

It's probably the main thing that keeps me from deleting my account entirely.


Facebook masquerades as facilitating relationships between A and B whereas A and B really only have relationships with Facebook itself, at least on their platform.


Lots of people are moving to Instagram because it's new and quicker/easier to digest.

But I see Instagram going the same way as Facebook. Eventually it will not be "fun to share when mom, your aunt, your employer, your future employers, law enforcement, the TSA, the NSA and foreign governments are going to read it." As another has said.

I abandoned Facebook because the connections I have that are active only use it to post baby photos or political content. To me political content is the worst because it is mostly whining and people feel like if they whine on social media they are being heard and therefore validated. Not to mention the postings of 20 pages op-ed pieces they clearly didn't read. And then one of their random acquaintances decides to disagree and then someone else feels compelled to "set them straight" and then its like 100 comments of bickering. Dude fuck that...

I especially despise the people who use "Instagram Stories" for political content because they basically trick you into giving your entire phone to them for 1-2 seconds for their political message. Yea no thanks. Unfriend...


The counterpoint to your potential Instagram downfall is that "kids these days" are making "Finsta" accounts, or fake accounts that they only add their close friends to, so they can post things they don't want the family seeing. Facebook tries very hard to enforce people using their real names, something that Instagram doesn't need to do.


> Facebook tries very hard to enforce people using their real names, something that Instagram doesn't need to do.

Yet.


Not only that, but what's with all of the Followers you get on Instagram that appear to be fake accounts made to sell porn? I used to get all of these weird "You're now being followed by..." notices. I'd tap on the profile pic (if it looked safe) only to be greeted with porn pics. And they'd have a ton of followers! It got to where I was nervous to even use the Instagram app around my kids for fear of what might show up there.

It was bad.


Had the issue only 2-3 times. Flagged the accounts and moved on. I think I even got a message once by the Insta team thanking me and that the account got deleted.


I'll throw my hat in the ring for how my social media usage has changed. I've largely moved off of social media and onto chat networks. Discord seems to have nearly every type of interest group. I use Telegram for international sports and random tech groups. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat usage has gone down significantly for me. I was checking Reddit daily for a year but that has gone down significantly. I don't know if it's an Eternal September thing or what but that site has seemed to have regressed to memes and recycled content across all of the subreddits.

I'm still learning about Mastodon but it seems like it utilizes the same concepts as Discord and other chat apps except it's federated which seems really cool to me.


Mastodon really has the exact same feel as twitter. The difference being that CAP theorem produces really weird conversational effects.

If you look at the myriad Mastodon domains, operating as single-instance hosted websites, on whatever infrastructure they deploy to, very, very few sites have more than 1,000 users, and any of the under 1,000 club are filled with mostly geeky accounts, and a fanout of a handful of lurker accounts per each identifiable personality.

The one really, really huge Mastodon node is basically filled with sex workers (and their johns, presumably), and is operated out of Australia.

That being said, consider what CAP theorem does to conversations as federated servers pop in and out of existence as they go offline. It's going to be link rot to all hell. You can figure that the prostitution Mastodon instance is probably going to experience some pressure, and eventually collapse. And not only that, any users on that trunk of the federation will disappear. So what happens to the followers, and the followed? Where do the conversations go? Does it matter? It's mostly the promotional efforts of ladies (and not-so-much-ladies), hawking their fare.

Anywho, right now, suffice to say, Mastodon is in a weird place. The first people driven out of Twitter, were using Twitter as a bunker, after Backpage was dismantled. Then Twitter cracked down on those sorts of accounts, and now they're pioneering the largest Mastodon community in operation, because there are few open options.

So, Mastodon is likely going to become associated with that sort of Craigslist vibe, but in the form of a Web 2.0, single page web app, right now. And where that will take things in the future is anybody's game, but we see what happens to these underground bunkers over and over again. Mastodon will unfold a little bit differently though, because of it's Twitter-style publicity angle.


Around 2004, when tech writers were trying to explain why Friendster failed, and why MySpace was becoming such a power, there was a lot of writing about Metcalfe's law -- the more people who joined, the more valuable the network was. Then around 2009, when MySpace was dying, there were several articles that pointed out that the opposite was also true: the more that people withdraw from a network, the more that network loses value.

Perhaps we will see similar articles soon, making the point about Facebook. But I'm not expecting to see people abandon Facebook suddenly, the way people suddenly abandoned MySpace. Rather, the process this time seems a bit more subtle -- people realize that everyone they know (plus future employers) is watching, therefore they have to censor themselves, therefore they have to limit their engagement. The effect is the same, Metcalfe's Law in reverse, the network loses value.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metcalfe%27s_law


The hundred billion dollar question is where will people alternately socialize online?

Lots of people I know spurn Facebook but use Instagram. Nearly everybody I meet on Fortnite communicates off-game via Snapchat. I personally get my internet dopamine fix through Reddit and Hacker News, and if I want to stay in touch with friends, I call/text/email, like the good old days of like 10 years ago.

I don’t see a general global social network around the corner gearing up to dethrone Facebook, but at the same time I am noticing social media usage splintering across a myriad of sites and apps, instead of being dominated by one giant social network.


Wasn't it always like it? Yea Facebook is a big name since 2005(?) But MSN, ICQ, Skype, XFire, WhatsApp and Telegram also were and are still around. (And many many many more)

I think that if we would be talking bout people switching from using Google services (specially considering androids Marketshare) that would be more surprising.


Maybe a global general social network simply can't exist. Maybe the people who are not on the network are just as important as the people who are. Facebook is full of people we don't want seeing everything we post.

Reddit these days has gotten really bad these days, likely because there are just far too many people on it now.


> The hundred billion dollar question is where will people alternately socialize online?

It's a good question. Personally, I got rid of Facebook and didn't feel like I needed a replacement. I do use Instagram and Snapchat, but mostly to communicate with family.


That crowd is moving to Instagram. Facebook Inc. will survive, unfortunately.


That seems like a good and natural thing to me.


maybe people give up on socializing on the internet, i think about replying to something and usually the thought alone is exhausting


Friendster should have licensed their patents to the other networks.


I have not ever changed my relationship with Facebook. I never even started because it was obvious that a proprietary centralized platform would have perverse incentives for censorship and spying. It's nice that other people are finally waking up to it, but unfortunately their motivation seems to be primarily driven by partisan politics rather than the root problem.



Heh. I don't own a TV. The only time it comes up is when cable sales people come to my door or stop me in a store. When I ask them if their service comes with a TV they always get this aghast look on their face. I don't know if it is because they can't imagine life without a TV or because I've totally thrown them off of their sales script so they don't know what to say next, but I've got to admit I do enjoy it.


Not that long ago I worked with a bunch of Millennials who all claimed they don't watch TV.

When asked why, they said they watch Hulu and HBO Go and Fox's apps.

They simply couldn't wrap their brains around the notion that all that stuff was on a television.

They also didn't know that there was such a thing as free over-the-air TV. They acted like it was some kind of black magic to get TV without a cable or internet connection.


I’m surprised no one has offered one yet. They are super cheap these days.


It's probably just not a part of their script. After all, who doesn't have a TV? It probably didn't occur to the sales script writers to include that path.


True enough. But at the least I get to say "I told you so." for the rest of the year. I put up with so much shit from everyone and everything for not having a facebook account for a decade.


I use Facebook for 3 things: messenger, University/student groups, and marketplace/for sale pages.

I live outside my home country, so messenger is the only way I can talk to many friends back home (or friends here in Canada when I'm home myself).

Being in school(as well as some employers and organizations) means there are all sorts of groups for socializing, sports, clubs etc etc, and Facebook is certainly the main platform for organizing these sorts of things here.

And just a few days ago I managed to find an apartment sublet through Facebook (1 day before classes started, yes I'm that dumb).

Aside from those 3 activities, I'd estimate I spend about 30 minutes a week on Facebook max. It's just not fun, feels very lowest common denominator (despite analytics-driven content). I have the impression that a lot of people (my age or otherwise) are in a similar camp: depending on Facebook for a few key services but otherwise loath to use it.


I've poisoned my profile. Chopped the friends list by 75%, quit using them for Single Sign On, will automatically halt video playback the second an AD hits, Report a significant percentage of ADs I see in the timeline as 'offensive to me'.

If they can abuse my profile, I can significantly lower it's value to them.


In addition to this, whenever I log on, I like to change my home city, political preferences and other "about me" info. This makes my profile next to useless.


I've been banned from reporting ads more times than I can count. every third post is an ad or some low quality suggested post. Ive definitely lowered my Facebook usage. For all the data they collect they do a terrible job at utilizing it.


Their useless, annoying and most importantly toxic ads are one of the main reasons I stopped using it. At least advertise me something I am really interested in and not stupid ripped of play store apps.

Reddit is now doing the same thing. Yea no thanks


Ha, I do that with the ads too. Report them all as spam.


I was temporarily excited when I saw they had a link to their methodology. I always want to know how questions were phrased in surveys like this, since phrasing can affect the answers. Unfortunately the 3-page methodology doc didn't cover that.

Like many such surveys, there's selection bias here in that it's people who have a land line and will agree to answer a survey about Facebook. This is going to bias toward people for whom something interesting has happened recently in their relationship to Facebook. Additional bias comes from the fact that the only participants invited were ones who previously agreed to answer a political survey.


> Around four-in-ten (42%) say they have taken a break from checking the platform for a period of several weeks or more, while around a quarter (26%) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their cellphone.

44% of younger users (those ages 18 to 29) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their phone in the past year, nearly four times the share of users ages 65 and older (12%) who have done so.


"... and then installed Instagram." Instagram usage in the US has been increasing faster than people have been abandoning FB[1].

I may be a cynic, but whats the biggest consequence of people moving from FB to Insta? Probably not having to pay all of the tech debt FB incurred during its meteoric rise.

[1]: https://www.spredfast.com/social-media-tips/social-media-dem...


Both the EU and US groups have called for breaking Facebook up. More specifically, they want WhatsApp and Instagram to be separated from Facebook.

Facebook should have never been allowed to buy Instagram, just like Google should have never been allowed to buy AdMob and perhaps Deepmind and a few other companies.

It hurts competition and the economy (in the long term) when large players can just buy out anyone that presents a threat to them, and then either integrate them into their main service or shut them down. Facebook has been trying lately to get Instagram people to post more om Facebook for instance. Facebook also attempted to buy Snapchat at one point.

If the rules to stop such mergers don't yet exist, then maybe someone should invent them. Much more often than not the consequences of these mergers and consolidations, as well as various crimes the big companies commit, are dealt with when it's way too late, and the companies have profited much more than what the punishment takes away a decade later.


Oligopolies are also how we get business driving fundamental R&D. The tradeoff isn't as clear cut as Econ 201 makes it, because in additional to the above point you also have a difference between oligopolies and monopolistic competition.


I would be curious to read some literature supporting this idea. Oligopolies driving R&D sounds counterintuitive to me.


Sure! There is a lot of lit, here is the basic idea. On mobile now, hit me up via github (same name) for academic refs later?

http://www2.harpercollege.edu/mhealy/eco211/lectures/monopol...


I don't see what part of your link supports your statement. Losing 44% of 18-29s is massive, and I can't accept your assertion without data to support it.


I wonder what percentage of those people who removed the app still use the platform though. Anecdotally almost everyone I know has uninstalled the app in favor of the webclient. It's usually faster, has less tracking shit, and doesnt eat battery like their native app does.


I'm a little surprised they didn't even bother to ask if anyone stopped using FB (i.e. "deleted their account") completely. "Deleting the app from your phone" is a pretty poor proxy for "I reduced usage of FB" in my view.


Half of my friends have done the same and migrated to the web client. If Facebook is going to hog memory and show data-chugging videos, it might as well do it in a JavaScriptCore VM context so I can stop it when I want to.


I, although not in US, a year ago deleted the app because I was wasting too much time on Facebook feed, & also used its web client maybe only 2-3 times since then.


Bringing out my own anecdata, everyone I know who deleted the app did it in the process of abandoning the platform itself. It wouldn't surprise me that the web client is gaining in relative popularity though.


Sure but how many are on Instagram? If so Facebook (the company) has still got 'em!


When people "delete their Facebook", most only ever delete the app. Many still use it on other devices, or maybe even their phone browser.


Depends on the group. My wife’s friend list has many of the grey ghost profiles of deactivated users.


Sure wish I didn't have to root my phone to delete the Facebook app. Is this a T-Mobile thing, or do most carriers bundle Facebook now?


One of my conditions to go with a cell provider is whether I can bring my own phone. I've found BLU phones to be highly serviceable, and works great with an MVNO (I use one on T-mobile's network). I am not associated with BLU, just a satisfied customer. The sub $200 price point is nice and the hardware tradeoff hasn't been too bad. I do worry about their phone-home issues though.


That was a big motivator for me as well when I finally jumped ship from Verizon. Admittedly, I went to Fi, so I was lucky that the limited phone selection worked out for me. The ease of international use more than outweighs that for me.


Adb yo, you can remove packages without root. Even then, I do wonder what fragments are left behind. I fear Facebook/Google/et. al are too intertwined with the likes of Samsung and LG.

Even when I remove all related packages, Facebook stuff still shows up in the app manager as 'Not Installed'.

Anybody have a complete list of packages and know if removing them prevents data harvesting by FB?


It can be either a carrier thing, or a phone manufacturer thing. Of all the phone I deal with at work (3 models each from all the major manufacturers) I loath the HTC ones most because of the amount of shitware you cant uninstall.


Another key reason I prefer iOS.


It's just as valid of a reason to prefer 'stock' Android or something like Lineage, though. Not having to worry about the minutiae of operating systems can be a definite platform benefit though, it's just not worth the tradeoff for me.


While it may be a good idea for people to delete the Facebook app from their phones and and stop logging in as often, it seems to me like any user tracking on the part of Facebook is still going to be happening regardless.


Do you think its possible that the fb socializing was fun when it started but after few years we all realize that its just not the right way to socialize. You can only post so many updates and likes have no meaning anymore.


Do you think its possible that the fb socializing was fun when it started but after few years we all realize that its just not the right way to socialize

Pretty much. It's all so pointless now.

My feed today:

Important service alert from a transit agency in some other city.

Obviously fake friend request from someone who thinks a Sharpie is an eyebrow pencil.

Promoted post from some company I've never heard of pushing something I don't care about.

People You May Know who are all people I don't know.

Someone else's shared memory of an event 5 years ago I wasn't at and don't care about.

Post from a "neighborhood" group on the other side of town.

Suggested Post about something I don't care about.

Post in a language that I don't speak, but that's OK because I did intentionally follow the Yomiuri Giants.

Post from the state parks people about a state park 400 miles away.

Image caption repost of a repost of a repost of a repost from someone who thinks that life's problems can be solved by re-posting other people's refrigerator magnet thoughts.

Ad for a coffee chain in another city with no locations within 700 miles.

"Breaking News" weather alert about a dust storm last week.

News item that a local TV station posted three months ago.

Photograph of someone I don't know who is friends with someone who is friends with someone I might know.

Photo from an actual Facebook friend, but it's of his tween daughter in a leotard. Ummm...

Ad for a coffee chain in another country.

One of those "URGENT! URGENT!!! !! Please help us find out dog!" re-posts from someone 2,500 miles away.

A re-post of an image caption that's been around since the 1990's.

Photograph of a friend not wearing enough clothing with a bunch of other quite hairy people not wearing enough clothing in what I really really hope is a sauna.

Good job, Facebook. Glad to see the $70 billion spent on "user engagement AI" is working out for you.


Yeah some of it has just gotten too silly, especially the notifications of ín your 'neighbourhood' which aren't even in my city. Maybe this is based on US car culture, I don't know. But they're notifying me about friends who aren't even really friends, going to an event I wasn't invited to and have no interest being, like a colleague from another department going to a barbecue with his highschool friends in his hometown I've never visited in my life and is an hour away... as an event in my neighborhood.

Just no. And it's not even on my timeline or something, it's an actual notification, the ones we use if an actual human being sends you specifically a one on one message.


Tumblr has started doing the same thing - inserting "suggested posts" from people you don't know, don't follow, don't want to follow, and don't want to see. There seems to be no way to disable this behavior, and to me, that's frightening because some of the things it's shown me have been disturbing.

Same with Twitter. It's sorting algorithms have been awful. Made it totally worthless for things I want to see, like local National Weather Service updates for local severe weather.


It was great when it was friends showing off pictures and potentially pointless status updates, not unlike twitter. Now it’s mostly overrun with political vomit and filler content/spam. Once everyone starting friending parents, colleagues, and acquaintances, the more intimate stuff moved to more private platforms.


Last year I finally, after over a decade, 100% deleted my personal account omn Facebook. I just got so fed up with it all. The service had this sour yet addicting pull over my online experiences - a pull I grew to despise.

I had found myself either hiding or unfriending folks I'd been friends or acquaintances with over 25 years ago. People I no longer had anything in common with, yet had re-connected on Facebook because we could. Seeing some of their posts, however, became a total pool of swirling toxicity.

So I finally just deleted it. I used to "take breaks" and simply disconnect it for months at a time. But I'd never gone full nuclear option until last year.

At first I had these weird feelings of - I assume - withdrawal. They lasted intensely for 2-3 days where I'd experience something with my kids and think, "Man, that would have been a photo I would have loved sharing." After about two weeks all of those thoughts drifted away. By week three, they were utterly gone. I don't miss it one bit. I'd relearned to experience life normally and not feel the need to put it out there. I still take a lot of pics; I just email them to my mom now.

Now that being said, I did create an "anonymous" Facebook account for one single use: Groups.

I'm deep into the retro-computing/gaming scene (especially Commodore) so I created a moniker that has nothing to do with me personally. This allows me to maintain my privacy and sanity while being able to stay "in the know" around these niche topics.

I never post any personal articles, photos, etc. It's just for Groups. And at least from that standpoint, I've found it very useful. None of the content (for the most part) is ever objectionable nor even controversial. It's the new Forum, basically.


I was at a store in Reno that was giving out free gifts to people who weren't on Facebook or Twitter. The tide is turning on the public perception of utility and safety of large social media networks, even if extremely slowly.


Just quit already. Plenty of meaningful relationships in the real world!


I quit a while back. One of the best things I have done


44% of people 18-29 deleting the app from their phones sounds bad, but it's important to take into account that Facebook does all sorts of things to increase engagement in their apps that cause some people to be annoyed. Facebook could make their app less distracting or make it easy to turn off annoying features, and fewer would uninstall it. It also doesn't take into account people reinstalling it. I've deleted and reinstalled it in the last year, and it is currently installed.


Deleting the Facebook apps (Facebook and Messenger) has been a huge boost to my productivity and happiness. Could not recommend a single thing more to the average person.


One of the big failures I think is for FB to not push friends lists more. The default is that you have 500 people on FB that you sort of know, and that you don't reject people that add you but you barely meet. So you end up not feeling like you want to share anything because your supervisor is on there, which you're work-friends with, but not close enough to share just anything.

For example, all my friends in their 20s will post pictures of them at various raves but none of them will post it on Facebook. Everyone knows half the people there are on ecstacy, which is fine for your friends to know, but perhaps not all of your colleagues.

There's a great deal of limiting self-expression on FB, because it's become such a public place. You're left with people who keep very small facebook circles, which is a tiny minority of mostly inactive users, people with sizeable circles who keep quiet because things you're open about to your 20 closest people, you don't want to share with the other 480, and there's people with huge circles who are the most vocal and often extreme in opinions and things they share.

Facebook has all the basic functionality to change this, moreso than instagram for example. You can put all your contacts in a limited-profile list, which reveals a profile picture, a handful of holiday pics and posts you explicitly set to public. And then you can put 20 friends in your close circle, which every picture and post is revealed to by default. This can be even more private and intimate than say instagram. But FB doesn't push it. So people end up having 1 privacy setting for everyone, accepting everyone on facebook, and rejecting most people on instagram. Most friends I know will rather accept 100 distant accounts (travel, food, lifestyle accounts of individuals abroad or companies) on instagram than accept a colleague that's 10 years older that you have lunch with everyday and are cool with, and have been facebook friends with since your first week at the company.


This study doesn't show that "Americans are changing their relationship with Facebook":

>Just over half of Facebook users ages 18 and older (54%) say they have adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Around four-in-ten (42%) say they have taken a break from checking the platform for a period of several weeks or more, while around a quarter (26%) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their cellphone. All told, some 74% of Facebook users say they have taken at least one of these three actions in the past year.

Is this different from what these people have done in the past? I've changed my Facebook privacy settings in the past year––but I've also changed them on a regular basis since getting on Facebook. Likewise, I've always taken regular Facebook breaks in the 13 years I've been on it.

This study is interesting, but it doesn't prove the claim in the headline.


I also don't quite understand why "adjusting their privacy settings "is a metric for people changing how they use FB.

FB threw an interstitial in front of people for GDPR. It'd be weird if people didn't change their privacy settings then?


Except US daily usage of FB has been perfectly steady for 8 quarters.


As we learned from the last election what Americans say and what they do can be two totally different things. I'll believe any change in people's behavior when I see it. Right now Facebook and its companies seem to be making money hand-over-fist.


I think you can be sure that Facebook is not happy with usage not increasing, especially over a period of 8 quarters.


Once more than half of all Americans use FB every day of their lives, not a ton of room to grow! They are increasing US rev though and international growth.


The penny dropped for me about 5 years ago. I cleared my account out. Didn’t bother deleting the account though.


Facebook has been product-managed and algorithmed to death - two real sicknesses of short-term thinking common in SV companies.

If you've used Facebook continuously for the last decade, you won't notice as much because the changes have been gradual. But if you came to Facebook now as a new user, it's all but incomprehensible. Combined with being "the place your parents hang out", it's no surprise that no one new wants to join Facebook or understands why they would want to be there.

Here are three concrete examples of these diseases:

1. Comments on posts and groups are shown out of order using relevance ranking. You just see the fragments of conversation that are most likely to get you to click and write an enraged reply without any context. No sane designer would ever choose this design for a message posting system. It's clear that a PM ran an A/B test and is optimizing for short term "engagement numbers" and doesn't care at all if you can actually have a normal discussion with their product. Juicing engagement drives users away in the long term.

2. Since the visibility of nearly all content is algorithmic, the shittiest content rises to the top automatically. If you are friends with people who work on products like YouTube, they will tell you privately that the reason there are so many conspiracy videos suggested by YouTube is because crazy people click on ads at an absurdly high rate compared to the general public which makes that content very valuable to the algorithm and drives it to the top unless the penalize it artificially. The same thing happens all over Facebook. Human misery and lowest common denominator content rises to the top because it gets clicks. Again, you are juicing short-term engagement but driving away users in the long term when misery fatigue sets in.

3. Facebook has so many overlapping features and no clear product vision. PMs have slapped on feature after feature with little consideration for the overall product. You can literally feel the PMs fighting over screen space in the web page layout.

For example on my default landing page, I have a live chat sidebar, a widget to post "Stores" and separate a widget to post "Posts", separate links to "Watch", "Live Video" and "Gaming Video", a link to "Marketplace" despite a totally separate link to something called "Buy and Sell Groups" and yet another one called "Offers", and all manner of bizarre and creepy sounding stuff like "Town Hall" and "Messenger Kids"(!). There's even some bullshit about a "Friendiversary" and a separate "Memories" tab. There must be 100+ separate "Products" on the screen that I can navigate into. Who is Facebook for??

If Facebook is going to survive as a viable place for people to hang out, someone with a clear product vision needs to be put in charge and the product needs to be severely stripped down and de-algorithmed. But of course that will never happen in a giant company, so instead Instagram will eventually overtake Facebook because it's actually still somewhat usable. But then Instagram itself will be PMed and algorithmed to death and replaced by something else. It's the corporate lifecycle.


think that's bad, wait until Facebook gets into online dating.

oh, wait. too late. it's coming.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/01/facebook-dating-service-how-...


It's interesting that Facebook is becoming everything that it was trying so hard not to be in the beginning.


Didn't Mark Zuckerberg originally want Facebook to become an online dating platform when he started it?


Sort of, I think. More like Tinder than AOL.



Woah, I'd forgotten FaceMash.

> The website allowed visitors to compare two female student pictures side-by-side and let them decide who was hot or not.

... and ...

> I'm a little intoxicated, not gonna lie. So what if it's not even 10 pm and it's a Tuesday night? What? The Kirkland dormitory facebook is open on my desktop and some of these people have pretty horrendiedous facebook pics. I almost want to put some of these faces next to pictures of some farm animals and have people vote on which is more attractive.

Internet memory is an amazing thing, no?


This is complete BS survey. None of these are reflected in Facebook DAU/MAU. If anything they have gone Ted bit up. Pew Research has been becoming a joke since past couple of years and mostly becoming just sensentionalist link bait grabbing headline generators.

Just over half of Facebook users ages 18 and older (54%) say they have adjusted their privacy settings in the past 12 months, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Around four-in-ten (42%) say they have taken a break from checking the platform for a period of several weeks or more, while around a quarter (26%) say they have deleted the Facebook app from their cellphone.


as to where I think all surveys are tinged with multiple layers of BS for various reasons, I do think it's quite possible for 30% or so of people to change how much and in what ways they use fbook, and yet fbook could still show high numbers of DAU/MAU - certainly not everyone who deletes the app totally stops using it - they can access the portal in other ways.

I can also imagine that older people could be lured into using it more while younger people abandon it nearly completely, which may show a steady MAU and that Americans relationship with Fbook is indeed changing - they can both be true I believe.


The only value I found in Facebook around 2005 was something to keep track of people's birthday's so that I could wish them happy birthday, but the privacy implications seemed pretty obvious and pretty dire. In late 2010, I wanted to reconnect with people, and I decided to compromise on privacy. Sometime in 2016 or 2017, I saw the post on HN about how to delete my account and all the information. Given how Facebook made me feel as a user of their service and all the different accounts of how they use personal information that I read by that time, I was glad to have gotten rid off it then, but I wish I just stay off of it in the first place.


I don't think it's just Americans for what it's worth.


I use facebook as a calendar and event planner. And I don't see another service overtaking theirs any time soon - for the simple reason that no other service can hope to get 99% of a persons social circle onto one single service again. I think the window for that kind of dominance has closed.

The question is whether facebook can afford to pay the bills in 20 years when its only us 70's and 80's kids that still use it for only messenger and calendars/events.


I was at an event recently where an older teenager was giving a speech. He mentioned Snapchat or Instagram (or some other social media platform) and then said "that's like Facebook for you old people". Ouch. But, I wasn't surprised. I have children in their late teens and early 20s and they and their friends openly mock people who still use Facebook.


..all those billions of them? Meanwhile in the rest of the world...everyone's on there. Tell them not to be so embarrassingly naïve and provincial, if they can.


The only thing that breaks my heart with Facebook going wayside is I know of many people with illnesses who use Facebook as one of their only outreaches for family and friends. Really is a shame that Facebook's greed and lack of integrity is driving people away from each other in this manner.


I stopped using Facebook in December of 2015, but I desperately want to know if they count my “sign in with Facebook” SSO uses toward their DAU count. It would be really misleading if they do.


Facebook confronts people with their own contradicting behavior from the past and people hate that.


Facebook - a place where you can share photos of your fugly children and comments of your low-meaning life.




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