I haven’t used Facebook much at all over the last few years. My last post was 15 months ago and it’s been more than three years since I logged in more than once a month. I stopped using it because the value I received was not worth the huge time suck. Plus the ads were terrible (I shudder to think what the ads are like today). I also hated (and still hate) the we-will-show-you-what-we-want-you-to-see-when-we-want-you-to-see-it news feed algorithm. I remember when the news feed just a chronological list of updates from your friends, and I liked it.
This morning I did a little research on how to delete my account. It appeared to me that I had to delete Facebook and Messenger separately. So I installed the Messenger app on my phone (which I have never used before in my life), and logged in so I could delete my Messenger account, which apparently you can only do from the mobile app. I was immediately reminded why I think Facebook is creepy. Within seconds I had a handful of inbound messages.
I finally got both my Messenger account and my Facebook account deleted. I also deleted my Instagram account. I never signed up for WhatsApp. Facebook says it could be “up to 90 days” before my data is really gone. That assumes that you trust Facebook to really delete the data. I trust Facebook no more than Facebook trusted Cambridge Analytica.
Zuck’s explainer post from two days ago (no link because FB doesn’t deserve it) doesn’t contain an apology, but he does admit that there was “a breach of trust between Kogan, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook”. In 2013 Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher at Cambridge University, created a personality quiz app which gathered data on 300,000 Facebook users, as well as a yet undisclosed number of those users friends. Since that time, Facebook has indeed made some changes to the policies third party developers must comply with. But those changes were not made to protect my privacy, they were made to ensure that Facebook was the only entity that could financially benefit from my data.
There was a time when I thought Facebook was cool. For me that mirage evaporated in 2010 when Business Insider published an IM exchange Zuckerberg had with a friend, where he boasts of having personal information on 4,000 Harvard students, and being happy to share it. When his friend asks how he got all the information, Mark boasts that people “trust me” and then calls us “dumb fucks”.
Mark’s explainers about privacy have gotten much smoother since then, but the fact remains that Facebook exists today because it sells my private information to anyone and everyone who is willing to pay. To make it worse, they claim just the opposite. If they don’t sell my data, what are those who pay Facebook buying?
Facebook is creepy and untrustworthy. I feel really good about permanently severing my association with that company.