I have to admit that Facebook is a pretty cool platform – you can connect with your old friends far away, see families grow, get funny jokes passed around, and see real time photos of what’s going on in the lives of your friends and family. That’s all nice but I’m not Facebook’s customer, the businesses that Facebook sells advertising to are their customers. I don’t pay to use Facebook, if I did I would be the customer. Instead what Facebook is depending on is the egos of their users to voluntarily pony up the almost complete database of their lives. For me “Timeline” was the final blow.
I only use Facebook as an entertaining tool to keep in touch with my close friends and family – if I don’t know you or if we were sort of acquaintances back in high school I don’t make the connection. The settings are private, it’s not pushed to search engines, and I don’t connect there with anyone I don’t know well. LinkedIn is a different story – I use LinkedIn as a business tool and am connected to over 1000 people there – but that’s totally different not only because I pay LinkedIn, but also because it’s an effective business tool that provides real value.
Since I’m only dealing with family and friends on Facebook do I really need to tell them what college I went to or what are my favorite books, or indicate my “likes” – they know me, they generally know my likes without me have to actually “like” it. I generally know theirs. We’re friends after all. This is key because Facebook per se doesn’t care what my “likes” are, they care that their advertisers know what my “likes” are as well as what the “likes” of the network of my family and friends.
But really the finally straw for me was the map that Facebook instantly produced based on past “check-ins” I did (there were 12 of them). This map showed every single place where I checked in on a full map of the world. Sorry Facebook – I am not interested in the least in this feature. Why would I be? Here I was and with a detailed map showing where I was and a timestamp of exactly when I was there. I had to asked myself whose for exactly whose benefit was this information? I mean – I know where I was and I know who I was with – but to have these steps captured and published on a map was simply a bridge to far.
Of course I fully understand I have full control of this simply by not “checking in” and so going forward I see no value in me actually checking in anywhere – if I’m there, I’m there, and I’m not really interested in feeding this information any longer to Facebook.
I did not delete my account but I did delete all of my basic data to “devolve” the profile. I removed schools, work, quotes, books, and photos (I run a photo travelogue on WordPress where I publish anything I want anyway, if somebody wants to see them they can go there). It’s all gone except for the raw minimum needed to maintain a Facebook account – name, birthday, and email address. If Facebook’s advertisers would like to know about me, they can visit me on my homepage.
I wonder if I’m not the only one? Check out this NYT article published today as well.