Facebook... sigh and bye
Last May, Christian author and head of Lifeway ResearchEd Stetzer deleted his personal Facebook account. (Read his entry here.) It was in response to Facebook's seemingly intentional thumbed-nose to its users' desires for privacy. I was also frustrated with Facebook's haughty attitude, but I thought, "I really can't complain. It's a free service."
Also in May 2010, when Stetzer wrote his rant, he linked an article Facebook's Gone Rogue; It's Time for an Open Alternative by Ryan Singel of Wired.com. Reading that article today makes me feel like Ryan is a prophet.
This week, Facebook rolled out a ton of changes and probably what they deem as improvements. Some are helpful; most are radically intrusive; and others are outright copies of new-kid-on-the-social-media-block Google+. The net is buzzing with opinions. I'm one of those that literally hates the new changes and the directions Facebook has announced that it's heading in.
Yes, I'm complaining today - with thousands of others. Here's a sampling of articles today found after Googling "Facebook changes."
In the latter article, Doug Rushkoff compares the trust that consumers of Apple versus users of Facebook have in those companies:
Ultimately, they don't trust Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and are suspicious of his every move. By contrast, Apple founder Steve Jobs took away his customers' hard drives, Flash movies, keyboards and Firewire ports -- and yet consumers put up with the inconvenience and discomfort every step of the way because they believed that Steve knew best, and trusted that he was taking them somewhere better.
Apple users pay handsomely for the privilege of putting themselves in the company's hands. Facebook does not enjoy this same level of trust with its nonpaying subscribers.
That's because on Facebook we're not the customers. We are the product.
I didn't delete my Facebook account last year. I doubt that I will delete it in 2011. However, the way I use Facebook changes today. I will no longer feed the machine. I will use it.
Essentially, this means that I'll be systematically deleting material from my Facebook account, and that what I post there will esssentially result in an online business card residing on Facebook for people that need to know how to contact me.
Facebook is already a distraction. Yet, Facebook is also very helpful for communicating with a generation of social media users that disdain or don't return email. I will continue to use Facebook for communication purposes, but I will encourage those who want to dialogue to use email.
I simply don't want Facebook archiving my life. Rushkoff hit the nail on the head with me. I find it difficult to trust Mark Zuckerburg. He makes me nervous. He has led Facebook to become a monolithic, amoral, juggernaut.
I'll be retreating to my blog and websites that I control. My social media preference will continue to be focused on Twitter and I'll begin trying Google+ on for size.
When Stetzer left Facebook last year, I thought it was a bad decision to simply bail. There were an estimated 500 million users on Facebook last May. Today, Facebook claims 800 million users! That's a lot of people that one can influence positively... or negatively. As much as I hate the directions Facebook is heading (and it may be purely preferential), I am not willing to delete my account or say goodbye to the network of friendships that I've cultivated, initiated and renewed there. I am grateful for Facebook 1.0 - 2.0, after all.
However, I keep having this nagging tech nightmare that we'll wake up in 1984. In Orwell's futuristic cautionary tale, the world is manipulated by Big Brother who accomplishes constant citizen surveillance, inflicts mind control and subordinates the populace for the supposed greater good.
My fear is that Facebook indeed wants to rule our minds. Unlike.