My guide on how to leave Facebook. Plus a diatribe.

Facebook's under attack of late for their disregard for people's privacy. I avoided Facebook for a while but finally took the plunge a few years ago. It's been somewhat useful for seeing pictures of friends, chatting with them a bit, and getting invited to things I'd like to attend (although most invites I get are bordering on spam).

Because it was only nominally useful, I never become a Facebook-a-holic that some of my friends and peers became. I became much more of a Twitter-a-holic because it made my so much better at my job. Now that's useful.

Another useful technology I acquired over the past few years is a BlackBerry. Both of my brothers had them so being able to group BBM (messenger application for BlackBerry) was awesome. We never chatted like that before, and it was great. Then one brother switched to a Droid and I was back to less communication. It's incredible how much a good tool can change the way you interact with people. Now I'm happy to browse the iPhone, Android, Palm, BlackBerry markets, because it sort of doesn't matter to me.

This is a long tale into why Facebook isn't that important, and now they're shooting themselves in the foot. If I had a tool that let me interact with people from different networks, I'd love it. It's why people use e-mail. You could be on gMail, Exchange (Outlook), Hotmail, Yahoo, whatever, but our mail can all go in and out. On Facebook, everyone has to be on Facebook. It's why we all joined in the first place, so that we could be part of the conversation.

The future of conversations has to be open protocols. There was talk of it a few years ago, but it never materialized. Why shouldn't someone who is my friend on Orkut be able to interact with me on Facebook? Because companies want to tie you to their network. It's protectionist and closed, but it makes them plenty of money. For me the user, it's just annoying.

Now, the real promise of this story, how to leave Facebook:
  • turn off anything that automatically posts to your Facebook - for me that was Flickr, Posterous, and a few others. Now, those uploads/posts only go to those tools. Facebook doesn't get to have my content. This alone will make people stop interacting with a lot of your content, and make you feel less driven to respond
  • Stop "liking" things! Facebook has made it so seductive to websites to add "like" buttons to every page they have. Instead, join a social bookmarking site like del.icio.us who's had the same privacy settings for years! And it keeps track of the websites you want much easier. Stop liking means less comments to respond to.
  • Stop posting photos there. There are much better photo upload sites that are easier, more flexible, and have easy-to-understand privacy settings. Look at the included image of Flickr privacy settings. Nothing confusing there. Again, less content means less interaction.
  • If you have to post something on Facebook, know that on your wall/profile, you can click "remove" so that people don't see the update. You don't have to let everyone know you "liked" something. Even if you already clicked like. You can even go backwards and click remove.
  • Mentally recognize why Facebook hosts your content for free. The more you send Facebook, the better they "know" you and can better advertise to you. They can tell advertisers your location, age, gender, what type of phone you use to access Facebook, what type of cameras you use to upload photos, how often you look at profiles, what profiles you look at most, etc - this is all about advertising, and Facebook sells you to the highest bidder. Sure, all ad-based sites work like this, but just recognize it. It makes it easier to not post something when you feel you're being sold.
I'm going to try this for the next few weeks. My Facebook profile will get no updates. I will be boring on Facebook, no one will interact with me. I'll enjoy the freedom from a company that cares little about my content and how I want to treat it.

Anyone want to join me? Did anyone even get to the end of this rant? Happy Thursday.

Posted via email from arvind's posterous

Facebook Privacy: A Bewildering Tangle of Options - NY Times Graphic

As usual the New York Times provides an elegant summary via an infographic - in this case, of Facebook's privacy options. If you're a Facebook user, you've probably stumbled through much of this before, but I bet you haven't seen it all! Sadly, I think I have in my quest to remain somewhat private in parts of my online footprint.

Coming soon, my guide on how to wean yourself from Facebook's grip

Via my school's webmaster

Posted via web from arvind's posterous

I just helped fund Diaspora, an open-source, distributed approach to social networks

A Little More About The Project

21 APRIL 2010 by maxwell

Diaspora aims to be a distributed network, where totally separate computers connect to each other directly, will let us connect without surrendering our privacy. We call these computers ‘seeds’. A seed is owned by you, hosted by you, or on a rented server. Once it has been set up, the seed will aggregate all of your information: your facebook profile, tweets, anything. We are designing an easily extendable plugin framework for Diaspora, so that whenever newfangled content gets invented, it will be automagically integrated into every seed.

Now that you have your information in your seed, it will connect to every service you used to have for you. For example, your seed will keep pulling tweets and you will still be able to see your Facebook newsfeed. In fact, Diaspora will make those services better! Upload an image to Flickr and your seed can automatically generate a tweet from the caption and link. Social networking will just get better when you have control over your data.

A seed will not just be all your existing networks put together, though. Decentralizing lets us reconstruct our “social graphs” so that they belong to us. Our real social lives do not have central managers, and our virtual lives do not need them. Friend another seed and the two of you can synchronize over a direct and secure connection instead of through a superfluous hub. Encryption (privacy nerds: we’re using GPG) will ensure that no matter what kind of content is being transferred, you can share privately. Eventually, today’s hubs could be almost entirely replaced by a decentralized network of truly personal websites.

Stay tuned for more updates on updates, and be sure to check out our Kickstarter!

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I thought there was some real potential here. I gave them a small amount of cash to help out, I think you should, too.

Posted via web from arvind's posterous

The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook - incredible visualization

Matt McKeon's visualization of how Facebook's privacy rules have changed from 2005-today show how many more people potentially can see what you post. Scary, but fairly accurate if you read my post from last week about Facebook's privacy policy shift over time (in words, not pictures).

My webmaster forwarded this to me today. As a school that uses Facebook, this is something to make very clear to the students and adults in our community.

Posted via web from arvind's posterous

Whoah people, Discovery Educator Network has teamed up to score teachers free Prezi Pro accounts!

So, to kick things off with a bang, our friends at Prezi have very generously agreed to provide all STAR Discovery Educators with a free Educator Pro account for a year (normally $59).

All you have to do to get your free Educator Pro account from Prezi is visit this page on the new DEN online community website, log in and complete the form. 

I'm a big fan of Prezi and the Pro account is definitely worth it as it gives you the offline editor, which is key! I purchased mine a while ago, but I wanted to pass it along to my educator friends.

Posted via web from arvind's posterous