I Left Facebook

I expected I would close my Facebook account for a long time now, but I finally dropped it. Last night I deactivated my account. Once I’ve determined I have all the data I want out of it, I will permanently delete the account.

Why leave Facebook now? Mainly because they moved everyone’s email address over to an @facebook.com address.1 This by itself is a fairly benign change at face value, but it also creeps me out and violates my one rule of social networking: never modify the information a user provides.

By changing everyone’s visible e-mail address, Facebook likely hopes to route all communications through its servers. Access to user emails gains them further access to personal information in e-mails and such, and that information furthers their advertising goals. Google more or less does this with Gmail already – it’s not as though Facebook has committed themselves to some heretofore unseen evil. However, I trust Google more than Facebook. This level of trust is likely arbitrary, but it’s still there. As such, the one rule comes into play.

The assumption I make with a social network is that the data I give them is immutable on their end. They are then free to connect it to other data, do whatever creepy things they see fit to do in the background, and generally do the usual slimy things with my data. But for the profile I give them, I expect the data to remain as I set it. If the network changes my data, it has then violated the idea that I control my information. Facebook disagrees with this rule and believes they control my information. I’m obligated to condemn their actions, so I danced my worthless protest and closed my Facebook account.

For now I’ll reside mainly on Google+ and Twitter. Google still retains more of my trust than it perhaps deserves. That said, it’s not entirely misplaced: they’ve stored my emails in relative safety for years. Twitter seems benign enough that the information they have seems useful only in a union of all other social network data. Therefore both retain my membership for the time being.

AdiĆ³s, Facebook. I won’t miss you.

  1. See Ars Technica’s article for more on the subject. [return]