On Saturday morning a took a big step when after more than 5 years of continual use, I de-activated my Facebook account for the first time. Very likely not for the last time unfortunately but it is the end of the beginning of the end for me and Facebook.
This action was the latest step in my phased disconnection plan that I initiated a couple of weeks ago when I made the decision to leave. To summarise my reasoning it was on privacy grounds and the issues here are obvious and well covered elsewhere, just search the Internet for Facebook and privacy and you’ll dig up a lot of reasons, which I’m all on-board with.
To avoid social drama from my sudden disappearance, I posted my intentions on my wall so my friends wouldn’t assume it was anything personal, particularly because my security settings should make my disappearance fairly indistinguishable from an un-friending. There seemed to be a bit of support for the idea, hopefully not because they’re happy to see the back of me, but perhaps I will lead others to make similar choices in the near future.
The next steps were removing the app from my Android Smartphone, this was not possible because it came pre-installed so cannot be removed, but it can be disabled which has the same effect. After this I continued using the mobile site for some time, which gave me a better sense of privacy because contained within a browser there is only so much they can do compared with an installed app that demands a lot of direct permissions from the phone, how true this is is debatable but that’s inconsequential now, it was only ever temporary.
I attempted to download my data a few times, this failed on every occasion which really speaks volumes about their commitment to data portability, or lack of it. I managed to get my photos out via Trovebox however and frankly I don’t care too much about the rest.
Finally I came to the test disconnect so I de-activated my account to see what would happen…and so far it’s not much, although it has highlighted a few issues, which is the purpose of the test. The main one so far being that my address book is woefully out-of-date. I cannot trust that most of my contact details are correct for quite a few people who I want to keep in touch with, and the same goes for birthdays, punctuated when I was oblivious to a colleague’s birthday this week while everyone else clearly knew through Facebook. So I started building a new address book on my Owncloud, if I know you don’t be surprised if I ask for contact details at some point!
Once these issues are all behind me I will delete my account permanently and I won’t look back. The experience has been an eye-opener on how dependent we have become on Facebook for so many important things, I only hope that others will choose to see for themselves, it really is a red-pill moment that every one should have to understand why they need to leave Facebook and use the Internet properly how it was designed to be: decentralised, distributed and free.
Although I made my own plan, there are resources available online to help, if you know any other good sites, leave a comment and I’ll add them to this list: