Leaving Facebook

5th Jun, 2020

After fourteen years of Facebook activity, I’m finally deleting my account.

I’ve barely used Facebook in a personal capacity for a few years. More recently, it’s been useful to keep in touch with friends and family, but there’s always email or phone.

I’ve also benefitted incredibly from the freelance groups I’ve been a part of:

For any freelancers on Facebook, I’d heartily recommend checking these groups out.

Now feels like the right time to cut ties with Facebook. I recognise that being tech-agnostic is somewhat of a privilege, but I don’t think sticking around for my own convenience is justifiable any longer.

Why now?

I’ve been uncomfortable with Facebook for a long time. Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook haven’t done anything to improve the quality of – or ban – political adverts.

Twitter is hardly a perfect, but at least it banned political ads.

Facebook isn’t free

I’ve been listening to “Oversubscribed” by Daniel Priestley recently. In one chapter, he describes how companies that don’t heavily target their ads are at a serious competitive disadvantage.

He goes as far as to say they’ll be run out of business.

An overdramatisation perhaps, but it’s pretty stomach-churning to think about the data profile we let these companies collect. For free.

In my fourteen years as a Facebook user, they’ve collected over 700MB of data about me. Images and videos make up 200MB of that, leaving over 500MB of messages and profile-building data.

To put that into context, the text in this post adds up to 4kb. Facebook’s collected 125,000 times that data in 14 years.

That’s roughly 35MB of text/profile data per year. Or 3MB per month.

All the time this data profits Facebook’s advertising model. Whether that’s companies targeting users for products or political parties during a campaign.

Targeted advertising and unethical user tracking have to end.

Facebook is not neutral

Twitter stirred up news when it started moderating Donald Trump’s tweets. This is no love letter to Twitter: the Will they suspend me? account demonstrates beautifully that not all tweets are treated equally.

But Facebook refuses to do anything. At some point, we have to decide whether we want to be associated with – and fund – a platform that chooses silence over action.

Instagram & WhatsApp

These Facebook-owned platforms are trickier to leave. WhatsApp might be easier as there’s a direct competitor in Telegram – I’ll need to convince family to move to that.

I mainly use Instagram that to support freelancers and small business owners through Work Notes. For now, it feels more important to continue that work than to leave – at some point that might change.

September 2021 Update

Totally correctly, it was pointed out to me that this article initially gave a shout out to Telegram. I strongly recomend Signal instead: in fact, I got my family to move to that from WhatsApp!

Also: I deactivated my Instagram accounts many months ago. No great loss.

Lastly: Inspired by Matt Baer’s Delete Your Facebook, I’m logging relevant articles in Bookmarks.