There’s been a video making the rounds recently of some dude with a lot of very animated facial expressions named Matthias urging you (and everyone else) to delete your Facebook account just as he plans to. Why? Mostly because FB (he says) is actively violating your privacy by holding onto your data and sharing it without your permission. Secondarily because FB is superfluous to real-life relationships, or should be.
All very well for Matthew Frederick (dude’s real name) and I wish him a happy Facebook-less future, even if almost a week later his account apparently still exists. I plan to keep my own Facebook account for some time to come, though; I’ve been on over five years now and for all the bitching about it I and most users I know do, it remains one of the most valuable tools in my online existence. For me, Frederick’s arguments mostly don’t hold water. Here’s why.
First, he says that Facebook stores your data primarily so it can target ads to you. This would certainly be a problem if I ever saw ads on Facebook or any other website but that hasn’t been an issue since installing Adblock Plus. Facebook can target me all it wants: I’ve got my fingers in my ears and am singing “La la la.”
Then there’s the privacy issue. Face it though: if you spend any decent amount of time online, you have little to no privacy to begin with. That’s just how it is. You have two alternatives: either get offline totally or be careful with what you post anywhere (or even look at). In either case, eschewing the use of Facebook isn’t going to make much difference. You’re responsible for what you put out there and trying to blame its propagation on The Zuck is ignoring that completely.
(OK, there’s the sticky point of your right to privacy and the larger one of government intrusion it in turn raises. That’s a discussion for some other time. Although when Frederick says, ”Deleting your Facebook account won’t all of the sudden fix everything but what it will do is start a conversation about what we find important and how we can protect that,” I have to wonder – will it really?)
Finally there’s the whole What are you doing on Facebook in the first place?business. “Odds are that the people you actually like on Facebook are the ones you talk to on a regular basis outside Facebook,” Frederick says. And maybe that’s true for him, since the dude strikes me as a highly socialized person who thrives on face-to-face interaction. For someone such as me who likes (often in fact needs) a bit of distance in my relationships Facebook is perfect: it lets me observe the social milieu without dropping in unless I want to. I know what’s going on with my FB friends because I’m part of small, targeted broadcasts they send, things I didn’t know when I had only phone calls never made or emails never sent.
While I agree that FB will never adequately take the place of real social interactions, nor should it, still I’ve never felt so connected to my fellow humans as in the last five years. That’s why I won’t be giving it up anytime soon. YMMV though so I welcome comments on the subject.