Why I Deleted My Facebook Account, NOW.

in #privacy3 years ago (edited)

In  light of the alarmingly high number of news reports on privacy  violations, data breaches, and scandals à la Cambridge Analytica, I am  convinced that many people are as outraged as I am, by what they’ve  seen. Whenever you read shocking — yet unsurprising — headlines like Another Facebook privacy scandal — 3 million users’ data exposed by quiz
 or Facebook’s 2-Factor Authentication With A Phone Number Isn’t Only For Security, It’s Used For Ads, you cannot help but notice that irritating, little voice in your head saying :
“You do realize you are on Facebook yourself, don’t you?”.We  read those articles, we watch the news, we share the most terrifying of  them on — you guessed it — social media, and then we…we what? Usually,  after we’ve thrown a brief tantrum, followed by lamenting about how  we’re being abused by the big tech companies and our personal data gets  sold to the highest bidder with our best friends over coffee, we take  the train home and we get bored i-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y.  Whereupon we trivially produce our smartphones and clandestinely start  launching our various social media profiles to combat the tedium of a  never ending 7-minute ride home. I have been there — more than  once — and every single time I could not help but feel a certain  uncomfortably nagging feeling in my gut: conflict.I  was enraged about how little respect Facebook has for their users and  their data, especially since I am an adamant advocate for privacy and  personal data autonomy. Even though I am not part of the “I don’t care  who watches, I ain’t got nothing to hide!” crowd, I still use(d) social  media. Constantly and fervently I retweeted anything related to the data  breeches and leaks of all the major tech and social media companies.  (That is, until Twitter had locked me out of my account for the 5th time  for NO reason. I cannot access my profile anymore because I stubbornly  refuse to give them my cell number to “verify” my account. This makes  Twitter the social media equivalent of that creepy, overly confident guy  at the gym with the smelly breath and ghastly fashion sense who keeps  asking for “your digits, baby” — But that’s a story for another day.)

[Photo titled: “Ire-inspired feminist punching Zuckerturd in the Facebook.”]

One  of the latest videos about privacy policies that I’d watched was one by  privacy consultant and advocate for digital rights: Dylan Curran (dylancurran.net @iamdylancurran).  His new series of privacy reviews is great, because those short and  concise videos give you all the information you need about how exactly  the world’s most popular tech companies (ab)use your personal data.  Watching the privacy review on Facebook will make you cringe and I claim  that no individual in her or his right mind could confidently state  that these policies and practices are justifiable or ethical in any way.  Here’s the link to the video about Facebook: 
No  one has the time to or cares about reading those hundreds of pages of  “privacy policies” that apply to the various services we’re using.  According to an article by The Atlantic from 2012
“Reading the Privacy Policies You Encounter in a Year Would Take 76 Work Days”.

However,  after all that I had read and watching Dylan’s review, the lack of  personal congruence ultimately became too intense and I decided that I’d  finally had enough of my Nr.1 target of Internet related ire: Facebook.  I had wanted to do this for a long time already, since the very  beginning of the public outrage about all the privacy violations that  this company has committed and keeps on committing, yet some things  always held me back. For the most part I had thought that there were  still some ways in which I “needed” Facebook. Some of those reasons  included: to reconnect with old friends, stay updated, some  Facebook-groups (I moved my group for women_* interested in crypto &  blockchain to Telegram), to reach out to people in case I would lose my  phone etc. (and yes, I ashamedly admit maybe also to stalk people a  little bit). But the more I reflected on it, the less it made sense to  give up so much of my valued privacy and valuable personal data and to  be exploited by a big corrupt tech company just to be able to see if my  ex-classmates were still fatter than me or similarly ridiculous reasons.I’d  finally had enough and instead of a like-button I clicked on the  delete-profile-button. And I can say, it really was as easy as that.  Click delete and rest easy. Maybe my cortisol levels really went down,  who knows, but it felt great. I was proud of myself and I have not  missed Facebook at all. Then I called my mother and she was proud too.  When I texted a friend about it, she told me that she admired how I  finally went through with it because she just still isn’t ready, even  though she’d been considering deleting Facebook for a long time as well.  I knew that if I wasn’t going to do it now I probably never would.So, if anyone of you reading this needs the final little nudge to #DeleteFacebook: here you go — Now’s the time!

[Here is your nudge — You’re welcome ]

The Reasons Why I Deleted My Facebook Account — An Overview

 If  someone collects personal data, they do it for a purpose — and that  purpose is profit maximization. This should be clear to anyone by now.  It is NOT to benefit the users and to “optimize” your experience. It is  to exploit you for all that you’re worth and more. And the best part for  those companies is that you give all of that info away constantly and  for free. Your online behavior is big tech’s 24/7 candy store. Since I  am not a big fan of exploitation of any kind, whether it concerns me or  others, that was reason number one.
 (Again, just watch Dylan’s video)

 The countless scandals! Here’s a great timeline and comprehensive overview of Facebook’s scandals from 2007–2018: 
“Facebook data privacy scandal: A cheat sheet”

I  eventually realized that there was nothing that I could get only from  Facebook and nowhere else, at least nothing that truly matters anyway or  that cannot be replaced. Considering all the above-mentioned scandals  and exploitation, the cons started outweighing the pros by far, in my  view.

I  wanted more time to spend on productive things rather than scrolling  timelines. The less time you spend on social media, the more time you  have to spend with loved ones or exciting projects — or to pet cats.😺

5.) NO MORE CRAPPY CONTENT/TROLLS/RAGE-QUITSJust  like reading the comment section under newspaper articles, being on  Facebook can mess with your mental health and your emotions.  Comment-wars, rage typing, drunk messaging, stalking people etc., all of  those common social media behaviors are highly toxic and detrimental to  your sanity and overall health and happiness.

Being  congruent matters to me, if I believe privacy matters, I should try to  act accordingly. No one is perfect and reaching 100% privacy in this day  and age is practically impossible (You can read all about that in Jameson Lopp’s great, recent article on the topic), yet that doesn’t mean that one cannot put up a fight.


Since  points number 1, 2 & 3 seem rather obvious to me, I want to discuss  the others, and my personal experience of them, in more detail.

Let’s start with 4) MORE TIME & LESS DISTRACTION:

[img src: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic ]

The 25-hour-day: What would you do if someone gave you an extra hour each day?We  spend an incredible amount of time on social media, dwelling on  countless selfies, cat memes, food-porn and other intellectual  regalement. Three articles I found about social media usage state that  people spend almost an hour every day using Facebook’s Social Media  services (WhatsApp NOT included, sources*). Now let’s consider the  following thought experiment:If you deleted your Facebook and Snapchat profiles right this second, you would have an extra hour every day.

Hence, your go-to excuse for anything — “I’m too busy” — would  lose all credibility. But here’s the good news: That kickboxing class  you’ve been wanting to take for 3 years, that friend you have not met  for coffee in ages, that book that’s been collecting dust on your  nightstand for months, that MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) about  blockchain and cryptocurrencies*** you said you’d like to take — It’s  all possible within that free hour every day (~7hrs/week, 30hrs/month,  365hrs/year) thanks to showing Mark Zuckerberg et al. the digital middle  finger. If you hit the gym as hard as those like-buttons, you’d have a  biceps like Ronda Rousey too. As another example, you could also learned  how to code and start launching your own privacy focused platform. The  possibilities are unlimited once you leave the social media maze and  focus on your actual life. 

 “Why do I have to delete Facebook completely — I could just use it less!?”

Well,  yes, in theory. But experience tells us otherwise. There have already  been lots of studies conducted that show just how strongly social media  affects our brain chemistry (watch for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HffWFd_6bJ0 & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z79IdQuNSSQ).

One study indicated that:
Even if you stay off Facebook for only five days, your stress level decreases significantly.
 (cf.  Eric J. Vanman, Rosemary Baker & Stephanie J. Tobin (2018) The  burden of online friends: the effects of giving up Facebook on stress  and well-being, The Journal of Social Psychology, 158:4, 496–507, DOI: 10.1080/00224545.2018.1453467)

Trying  to use a platform like Facebook less, is usually equivalent to trying  to eat “just five Nachos”. You will most likely fail and then feel even  worse than before. I’d also like to point out that Facebook, once you’ve  deleted your account, gives you the opportunity to access that account  for two more weeks and restore it. That means, if you log in during  those two weeks your account will be reactivated. This might sound like a  pleasant feature for the ever-undecided, yet I consider this a  malicious attempt to keep you hooked and undermine your decisions.


“But there are no alternatives!”

Firstly,  why would there be? As long as people keep using the same platforms  like happy sheep, there’s no demand for other forms of social media and  communication. No demand = no supply, that’s a simple equation. (If you  want to hear a bit more about ethical versus unethical app& media  design, watch this short video)
 Secondly, there are  alternatives, although their user numbers are in no way comparable to  those of Facebook. If you’d like to try them — here are two  alternatives: Diaspora and Minds .But  what if I told you there’s another, ancient way to communicate, the way  our forefathers- and mothers did. No, I am not talking about pigeons,  smoke signs, or Myspace, dear readers. I am talking about good  old-fashioned text-messaging, calling (for the extra pinch of privacy:  add encryption to taste, using apps like Telegram, Signal, Threema,  RedPhone etc.) and yes, even sending letters. Do you know how delightful  it is to receive an actual letter from a friend in the mail along with  stacks of bills and garbage? Try writing a pen-and-paper letter to your  bestie or send your grandma a postcard, trust me, you won’t regret it  (In case you’re extra paranoid you can add a seal to make sure no one  other than the designated recipient reads your letter)! At the next  party, instead of snapchatting your drunk friends embarrassing  themselves, take a polaroid picture and send it to them with snail mail  once they’re sober. After all, people did have a social life before 2010  too, just ask your parents.

Number 5) NO MORE CRAPPY CONTENT/TROLLS/RAGE-QUITSIf  you’re still not 100% convinced that Facebook is highly problematic,  maybe you should also watch the following video by John Oliver:

“Connecting  billions of people does sound great but it’s also important to remember  that, when it comes to the Internet, a certain number of those people  are then going to say 
and you really have to think that through.”

Watch the whole video here: 

Personally,  I have never encountered any anti-Semitic, selachophobe conspiracy  theorists in my Facebook timeline, but I have seen similarly disgusting  things and there’s one story I want to share with you. I had almost  forgotten about this incident, until I started writing this article. The  account “history” I downloaded from Facebook, before I’d deleted my  account, came in handy for the purpose of uncovering that particularly  irritating online encounter. Using the search function, I was able to  find that exact post and photo from over a year ago in my saved Facebook  ZIP files. This is also a perfect example of how permanently the ghosts  of social media past can haunt you. In a way, social media has almost  become a public Blockchain (=truth value record) of “everything you  drunk-texted and never ever wanted your granny and boss to see”. 

Let me show you what kind of white-male-privileged chivalry you will find on Facebook:

[Raffael Gerhofer, November 2017 on Facebook]

The latter part in red underline says: “(…), but those shit feminist whores just make me angry. burn them. .witches..”[SIC] 
(Just to give you some context, this comment followed a post about the #MeToo movement.)

This  particular violent display of misogyny was a comment by a  “[Facebook]friend” of a “friend” of mine. Usually I have engineered my  personal bubble so neatly and comfortably suited to my psychological  needs, that I do not even see such asinine hate speech diarrhea anywhere  unless I start reading newspapers and their comment sections. But in  this case, I had to witness it. And while it is important to be aware of  how other people think, it might also cause acid reflux and ruin your  mood, and that’s not good. Instead of looking at gruesome comments all  day, I’d rather spend my time more productively, trying to find ways to  fight all the cruelty in the world together with like-minded people,  instead of occupying myself with endless and pointless comment-wars on  Facebook.Furthermore,  this also highlights something else, on top of hate speech and  questionable contacts, namely: Publicity. If I am so strongly advocating  for privacy, why do I publish this screenshot with that poor excuse for  a grown man’s full name, you might wonder? That’s because the imbecile  posted this on Facebook publicly, for everyone to see and screenshot.  Therefore, him now serving as a bad example of sexism and hate speech on  social media, well, it’s what you get for using platforms that are not  private by default. 

If you confidently boast about your horrendous  views IN PUBLIC AND ON THE INTERNET (And yes, public groups and public  profiles are in fact — let’s repeat it one more time for the slow people  in the back — P U B L I C — Just because you sit at home in front of a  screen does not make the Internet any less public than a town square, if  you do not fully grasp that, you should research how the Internet  works.), then it’s very possible that one post, like, comment or picture  will plague you at a later point in your life. We all need to be aware  of this, if we’re using those platforms, and we should be teaching this  to our children (and our parents).

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”
 [probably misquoted or falsely attributed to Søren Kierkegaard]

6) USE AND RAISE YOUR DIGITAL VOICEENDGAME.  You have a voice, you are a customer, a user, a target. Believe it or  not, YOU MATTER, and so do your actions, your data, your preferences and  your usage patterns. They matter politically, economically and  ethically. So be sure to make that voice count, raise it whenever you  must and withdraw your consent (be it actively or passively) according  to your personal beliefs. Because we all matter, and the more people  start taking a stance, the more the big players will be forced to listen  and react. Platforms like Facebook are based on the same principle as  blockchains: the NETWORK EFFECT — which in turn means: no network, no  effect (Remember Myspace? No? — Exactly!). If you count them all  together, our actions could be equivalent to a huge social DDOS attack.  If we start denying the use of certain services we can achieve real  change.I  will not tell you what to do, however, I will encourage you to take  action and stand up for whatever you really believe in and what truly  matters to you. Should it be the case that privacy and personal data  autonomy happen to be among those things, then you might want to  reconsider some of your online activities.

P.S.: Should you really #DeleteFacebook too, leave a comment below, let’s celebrate!


#DeleteFacebook #PrivacyMatters #MyDataMyChoice #MakeOrwellFictionAgain

* src — Daily amount of time spent on FB: 

**  Presearch Privacy Reviews feat. Dylan Curran are a quick, easy and  comprehensible way to get an overview of the most relevant privacy  policies out there, like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, LinkedIn etc. I  suggest you check out all the awesome videos about the platforms you use  to stay up-to-date about privacy. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLKkZZ0_S9HH059KhWaOhhMdkWtpBWWta

*** The free MOOC by the University of Nicosia is absolutely amazing, I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the topic: https://digitalcurrency.unic.ac.cy/free-introductory-mooc/


Great article! Maybe it's time to delete my fb too....


Thanks! That's great! Go for it! :D

I deleted mine 3 years ago and have used minds instead

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