My Rocky Relationship with Facebook

Aug 31 2011

Fuck Facebook

 

Facebook is an interesting animal. At its best, it’s the social hub for you and everyone you know. A place to share thoughts on life, pictures and videos of life, and articles that people somehow relate to life. At its worst, Facebook is a trap to get you to part with your precious private information.

Whether it’s the things you like, your current location, or the phone numbers you store on your phone, Facebook will take it and find some way to make money from it. Sometimes they ask nicely before taking this information. Other times, they take it, not caring whether you actually wanted them to. I recently deleted my Facebook account. It was the place that I used to connect with old friends from the military and other periods of my life. But a few weeks ago Facebook committed a heinous invasion of my privacy. In an attempt to provide a bump to their new messaging system, Facebook scanned any iPhone with the Facebook app installed and current, and copied all the contacts from your iPhone to their servers. They say they did this so that when you inevitably tried out their service, all your contacts were already there. What if I don’t want to use Facebook messenger? And I know that I never will want to? They didn’t ask if I was interested, they assumed that I was down to join the newly created army of people using Facebook as their sole means for communication.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. A bit over a year ago I almost deleted my account. Mark Zuckerberg, one day, decided that Facebook was a place where everything is to be shared with everyone. So, what does he do? He institutes new privacy controls, while at the same time deleting all the privacy controls that you had already set. This effectively made every profile on Facebook public until you manually set up the new controls. In addition, these new controls required that you share certain information, such as your full name, home town, and place of employment. I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell didn’t want that information being publicly available. I set up my new privacy settings, deleted the information that they required to be public, and refused to use a Facebook Like button for fear that my likes would be exposed as well.

I wasn’t too thrilled about having to take these precautions on a site that promised privacy and security for the information I trusted it with, but I did it. I sucked it up for a couple reasons. The first being that I had no other means of contacting the vast swath of my “friends.” The second was the simple fact that there was no other place to go. Myspace had turned into a music hub being run by teenagers. Twitter was, and still is, too impersonal and public to keep in touch with friends, and Buzz was the new joke on the block that had its own set of privacy issues. Issues that were strikingly similar to the most recent rape of privacy. Google thought that it was doing you a favor by looking through your contacts and old email and automatically setting these people to be your friends. The problem was that a lot of people keep private contacts in there, and as soon as that person was deemed your “friend” through Buzz, their name was right there next to yours whenever someone visited your feed.

I went this whole time keeping my visibility on Facebook to a minimum so as to not give up information I didn’t want the world to have, trying to forget the painful memories of all the mental anguish The Zuck had put me through. When I found out about them scanning contacts in iPhones, all of those memories came back. It honestly ruined my day. How dare this anti-privacy douche-bag steal MY contacts! At that point, I vowed not to give Facebook any more access to my information. I wrote a status update stating I would be gone from Facebook in 24 hours, but that I’d be on Google+, Google’s new, privacy-centric, social network. I urged anybody who would listen to come with me. Some came, some didn’t. I’m still the only person I know who deleted their account for this reason.

My private information isn’t for sale. Unless you screw your way in to my iPhone, you will never know what my contact list looks like. If Fuckerberg came up to me and said “Hey Chris! I have this kick-ass product that you will love! Just give me your iPhone so I can look through and copy down all the information.” he’d have one helluva fight on his hands. But he never even asked, he went in the back way while I wasn’t looking, like a crook.

Until I can be sure that my information isn’t being publicly disseminated, you will not find me on Facebook.

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