I've deactivated mine. Once I get my photos and videos down, I'll delete it.
I stopped posting and reading FB at some point last fall and haven't missed it in the least. I never felt better after visiting and the experience of watching my friends try to eat each other alive wasn't positive.
I was early on with FB, joining in 2007 or so, when it was still a fairly rudimentary platform that hadn't quite embraced add ons like games and so on. At that point, I think we were at the tail end of the "innocent internet", back when we felt that interconnectedness would yield more humane discussion. It's turned out to be the opposite, I think, hence I'm out.
At this point, I'm reasonably certain that in ten years, we'll see social media, as implemented by Facebook and others that rely on advertising as one of the most destructive technologies ever unleashed on society.
Is anyone else feeling similarly disappointed not only in FB but with your fellow citizens and their behavior on social media?
No. I've guess I've never used Facebook the way it was supposed to be used. I didn't search out old friends or distant relatives. I've only friended a handful of family members, and other than my wife and kids, I don't follow any of them. I use it to participate in a few local bird watching groups, a few local community groups, and a couple classic car and motorcycle pages. If I deleted it, how would I know there's a low mileage Ducati supersport I'm interested in for sale in Dallas, or the Loons are at the local lake on their migration North today?
I'm so torn over this issue issue with Facebook. In my struggles to process it, I think the main thing I feel is stunned. Stunned that it could come to this on such a massive scale.
My narrative is that a well-intended, bright 19-year-old really did want to connect friends, but when he lost control to investors and they forced him to sell to Yahoo he learned how critical growth is. Yahoo blinked because Facebook's growth had slowed, so Zuck got a second chance. But this time he thought lesson learned, growth at all costs.
It became all about focusing on data—growth data—and the core mission of connecting friends and family was lost. I still think it's great for connecting friends and family, not talking about politics or the obscure interests you have like neurology, same as at family dinners like Thanksgiving.
But by focusing purely on growth and profit, Frankenstein was born with stunning, unintended consequences.
I never joined Facebook. I had the opportunity in 2004 when GaTech was one of the earlier schools for expansion beyond Harvard. They hired a promoter to spread the word on campus and I worked with her on the student newspaper. The MeFi "you aren't the customer, you're the product being sold" had been around a couple years, I recognized the pattern, and figured they'd be selling the personal information people gave them.
As to the "more innocent internet", think that social networks in general are an attempt to take the positive energy of the blogosphere and bottle it in their own walled garden. The result is messier than the inspiration due to the normal community degradation when a medium moves from early adopters into the mainstream.
Not all early adopter communities are great but being great is pretty highly correlated with success. When you start, you tend to have a bunch of intelligent and intellectually curious people and as long as everybody's civil, you tend to get a pretty good set of converstaions going. As long as growth is slow the community can assimilate newcomers and force them into its norms and things remain largely good. Once the rate of growth becomes too high, the norms are lost and people bring their own norms. Invariably some subset of the community becomes aggressive / belligerent, the opposition / moderates decide they don't have enough time to deal with that, and the community degrades into "normal" online discourse.
You can see this pattern from very early in the life of the internet. I wasn't around for it but I've heard the phrase "the September that never ended" show up in context of AOL bringing millions of people to usenet and overwhelming their ability to absorb newcomers, which traditionally had been in September when new students arrive at university and got online. I've seen similar patterns in Reddit, Hacker News, Twitter, and the Python and Node.js ecosystems. It can happen without the growth. HN is pretty negative despite being a smaller community. Reddit is interesting in that each subreddit seems to have its own lifecycle in this pattern so some are really nice (e.g. /r/rust) while others are completely toxic and the ones where everybody intersects (e.g. /r/politics) are the expected dumpster fires.
The only way I know of to guard against community degradation is heavy handed moderation. As far as I know, MetaFilter is still going and I've heard pretty good. The ArsTechnica forums, where I've been active for just under 20 years (makes me feel old) are have also maintained a consistent quality over time. I've talked to the Cake guys about this and will be interested in seeing how this platform develops over time.
I don't use Facebook much and would like to use it less, but it's pretty much the primary way I get news about my family and some of my friends. Deactivating my account would shut me off from them, which I don't want. I suspect a lot of people are in the same boat.
I'm keeping my FB. Apparently I'm one of the old farts that still uses it (my twenty-something kids think ONLY old farts use it). I do use the FBPurity app to help manage my privacy settings and overall experience and recommend it. I'm not very tech-savvy and I worry less about acces to and mis-use of my personal info that I know about (e.g., Facebook), than that which I do not know about (e.g., the government???).
I agree that social media is a destructive force for society. I am wrestling with whether to delete, but for now am waiting for a viable alternative so I can continue to keep in touch with friends scattered around the world, keep up with various maker/prop making/cosplay/3d printing and photography interests that I have that are all found in active Facebook communities. I already spend only 15 minutes a day on social media, used to be many hours.
@grayrest, I remember when we first spoke how strongly you felt that moderation is the key, and how ArsTechnica has managed it all these years. We had a long visit with Jon Stokes, a co-founder of Ars, and he said the mods there are elected by vote from members.
I thought of you a few months ago when Kara Swisher was interviewing Kevin Systrom, the co-founder of Instagram. Kara said that unlike Twitter and Facebook, Instagram has remained pretty positive and she asked Kevin how. His response was that he got advice from day one to delete the trolls, so they have. If you're on Instagram to make trouble, they quickly delete you.
Kbasa, I'm one step behind you (as usual). I'm convinced it's not making my life better, but I've hesitated to delete because it is a useful tool.
I think the better answer is to figure out how to use it as a tool that suits me, but I'm not sure if I have the discipline to interact with it only in ways that are beneficial. Too easy to go to the newsfeed and start seeing things that waste brain space.
If it was possible to turn off messenger and pay for the service (to avoid any information sharing), I'd be interested. I don't like being the product.
Over the last 2 years I have stopped posting pretty much anything on Facebook when compared to the previous 2 years. It came down to the fact that I changed the way I use it. No longer was I posting "my shiny life" photos, but instead it became a tool to keep in touch with distant friends and occasional family updates.
For that purpose, it is great. I just have to be disciplined enough to stop mindlessly scrolling through the feed. So I plan on keeping my account but spend even less time on it now.
Moderators tend to be volunteers since there isn't much (any?) money in it and when done well there's usually a back and forth dialog with the community so the policies have buy-in.
One of the reasons I like pointing to Reddit is that you can see the effect of different moderation policies. It's easier with the more technical sections since they tend to be on topic (/r/askhistorians, /r/spacex) and the mods can shut down everything really hard. The result is high quality content but they always feel kind of sterile to me. The fun/cute pictures ones also seem to be positive, though I don't know if it's because of the subject matter or the mods just delete everything that isn't positive.
I find the gaming subreddits to be the most interesting because they're a mix between people who want to have serious discussions about mechanics and people that want to have fun with other fans. I've been following the moderating saga of /r/fireemblemheroes for a bit over a year where a fair sized chunk of the community REALLY likes memes and fan art but a roughly equal sized chunk thinks these are annoying so there's been a periodic shifts in moderating policy and it impacts what shows up on the front page of the sub and how it influences how the discussions develop. I find it interesting but I don't know if it applies more broadly.
One of the things I'd like to know is whether discussion quality is like a garden where you can weed stuff and the discussion comes back or whether it's like entropy and you can slow it down but the quality is only one way. I've only ever seen it go one way but it's not like I've made a formal study of this stuff.
Hannibal (Jon) is my favorite arsian. His writing was very influential on my career. I still think his CPU architecture articles are some of the most accessible for the enthusiastic layman. I've been less happy with Ars as a whole since they got bought since it's drifted more into the Popular Science / Wired area instead of keeping its focus on their unique mix of detailed computer stuff and digital rights (I still have no idea why Conde Nast would want a second Wired when they already have the first) but I'm happy all the founders got a payout.
honestly I have deactivated it a few times in the past... usually when I realize I’m wasting a bunch of time with it... I’ve been off since two Novembers ago and I can’t say I’ve missed it all that much.
There’s been the occasional news update from family and friends because I’m not on it but most of the people close to me know I’m not on and make a point of reaching out to me via text or phone call it’s actually kind of refreshing... hearing the tone I’m their voice etc...
I'm still on FB. I tend to share political articles that I find interesting, mainly because I think the majority of my FB friends are like-minded, so it's sort of like virtual kvetching to friends. I know some people think that is not how one should use FB, but I don't think in general people care about what is going on in my boring life. I do post occasional funny anecdotes, or dog photos (everyone loves dog photos) or some "proud mom" news about my kids once in a while.
But I stopped following most of my FB friends (and acquaintances) a long time ago to cut down on the amount of stuff in my feed. I can still go to their news feeds to see what's going on with them, but don't need to see a photo of every cup of coffee they order.
I mainly use it now to follow headline news from various news outlets like BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, ProPublica and NPR. It's a quick way to check what's going on and what the breaking news is.
I do my very best to ignore the adds, and recently went in to check and see what apps I may have inadvertently added over the years and deleted the ones I didn't want or didn't recognize.
I would love nothing more than to purge my facebook off the face of the earth, but I feel very much locked in by the social aspect. I have so many chat groups I use regularly to communicated with my friends but I've found that a lot of people don't seem to care about the privacy implications whatsoever.
I ditched my Facebook a little over a year ago after realising I wasn’t gaining anything but lost time using it. I was finding better ways to connect with friends so I don’t really miss it, and probably make more effort to directly message friends instead. I love Chris’ comment, “I still think it's great for connecting friends and family, not talking about politics or the obscure interests you have like neurology, same as at family dinners like Thanksgiving.” +1 from me on that point, and I think that’s where it’s went wrong. Where’s the line between wanting to stay up to date with what your family are up to but not wanting to see their political differences? That’s the big appeal for me with Cake... We can follow the conversations we want to follow 🙂.
Buzzfeed published an internal Facebook posting that was leaked about growth at all costs and it's getting a lot of attention. The interesting thing is how Facebook's employees reacted, which The Verge covered after reading through the comments.
I have always felt that we should all conduct ourselves as if everything we say will be leaked one day, because if it's awful, it probably will be. And then a lot of people will be mad at the leakers instead of the awful things we said.
An Argentine reporter has weighed in on what Facebook is doing to elections in Latin American countries. It seems that Cambridge Analytica or companies like them have a presence in countries like Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, but they are expensive and the candidates there usually don't have the budgets to spend a lot with them.
What has become a huge thing though is fake news. Countries where polarization is high like Brazil are hotbeds of fake news because it's produced by people on the extreme, not moderates, and Facebook is a great channel to distribute it.
Last night, I pulled my data down from Facebook, which arrived in a surprisingly tidy package, and clicked the Delete Account Button. The notification indicates that it'll take about 14 days.
One thing I noticed was that in addition to content I'd created, it also downloaded those little videos they make that reference your friends or your birthday or the like. It's interesting to think about those from the perspective of what consumer behaviors those videos seek to enforce.