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 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

arvind s. grover

I am a progressive educator, a podcaster (, a blogger, and dean of faculty of JK-11 school (building a high school) in New York City.