Thursday, September 12, 2013

I'm leaving Facebook (Frog escapes slowly boiling pot)

That's a frog on the handle.  It was in the pot
but jumped out when things got too hot.
I'm one frog that has noticed that the water in the Facebook pot is getting too hot for comfort.  I'm jumping out.

I'm leaving Facebook this week -- permanently. I'm tired of the creeping encroachments on my privacy. Also I'm no longer willing to be a part of Facebook's quest to commercialize and make public all of our social relations and interactions.

The most recent privacy policy changes are the proximate cause (see thisthis, this and this).  Though protest and government scrutiny have prompted Facebook to delay implementation, the trend is clear.

The title of this post refers to the story of the Boiling Frog:
If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.
(version of the story from Daniel Quinn's The Story of B)
I'm not against businesses making money through advertising in their "free" services.  It's just the way Facebook is doing it that deeply bothers me.

Privacy isn't just "not disclosing private information".  It's also about people keeping control of their private information, where and how it is used, and by whom.  Facebook's latest changes are forcing users like me to give away vital elements of control, in my opinion.

Finally, I don't trust them to keep to the spirit of privacy.  Facebook's definition of privacy is like Bill Clinton's definition of "sexual relations" -- an unreasonably narrow definition whose rhetorical aim is to dissemble.  At best, I believe Facebook will continue to keep to the letter of their constantly shifting privacy policy and user agreement, all the while constantly finding ways to subtly erode our privacy. At worst -- well, obviously very bad things would happen.  But I'm acting on the assumption of the best case, not the worst.

Bye, bye, Facebook.  And I won't be coming back.

1 comment:

  1. 2. Your CURRENT cover photo is ALWAYS public. You CANNOT change it's privacy even if you want to. So if you're worried about your picture being misused, don't use an image that has any people in it; use a scenery or a quote or anything else. Try to not use other people's images so you can avoid copyright issues.facebook