What’s the deal with facebook?

Some time ago I checked out facebook. Lots of folks that I know use it. The problem was that I, normally a pretty tech savvy person, couldn’t quickly tell what was being shared with who. If I am posting private info and it isn’t clear who gets access to it, then how do I know what is safe to publish? Facebook’s privacy settings seem purposely confusing and vague, not a company that I want to let own my personal data. Also, where is the export for my data? How do I take MY data and leave facebook? Nope, sorry, no can do. Facebook is a walled garden much like the now dead and dying AOL (one can only hope that facebook meets the same fate.)
So I took the time to wade through the settings and find a spot where I could delete my account, delete my data, remove myself from their database. Done. That should have been the end of it.

But it wasn’t.

Months later I used a different email address to set up a “throwaway” account. An account that I created in the name of John Smith. It wasn’t meant for sharing, I intended to give it none of my personal data. I simply created it to make commenting on blogs and such that allow facebook connect for posting. I simply used it to log into blogs and sites that allowed it so that I could avoid registering for every site on which I wished to leave a comment.

That worked fine for a month or two.

Then I accidentally used my personal email account to login to facebook from a third party site. Bam, I am redirected…to…my old facebook account. The one that facebook had assured me had been deleted. All that personal info that was “deleted” was back. There was no wait, it was instantaneous. The data was never gone, they didn’t even bother moving it to an archive server.

And there lies the problem with facebook. They are amassing a huge assortment of personal data and they are not being clear about what is done with it, who has access to it, how long it will be retained, or who they will give/sell it too. Can you name another site that needs 4 pages of settings related to the privacy of your data? This is purposeful obfuscation in the hopes of getting the user to share more than he/she means to.

The main argument in favor of facebook is that it is simple and easy (look how happy gramma is interacting with little Jennie.) It is all fine and good until little Jennie gets stalked  due to the info that gramma shared with her “friends”.

This morning I finally waded through Facebook’s settings to “delete” my account again.  I see that they have now replaced the word delete with deactivate.  Pisses me off but at least it is honest…there is no way to delete your account.  Facebook owns your data, you can’t take it with you, you can’t delete it, you don’t own it.  Facebook is making bank and they are not bringing anything to the table.  The users generate the content and facebook rakes in the dough…great work, if you can get it.

In the week or two that my account was (re)activated I recieved 5 “friend” requests.  Two from people I know and three from apparently hot young women who wanted to get together with me.  Want to know a sure way judge a neighborhood?  Look at the people you run into on the “street”.  If you run into low lifes around every corner, you might want to look for a better place to hang out.

The criticism so far hasn’t even touched on Facebook’s model of existence, which I think is also fatally flawed.  Facebooks whole premise is to get you together with people you know, or once knew, or might have known, or who share common friends, or what the fuck ever silly nonsense they can use to get you to create content for their shitty service.

Nobody stops to ask if I care what people I knew 20 years are up to today, let alone if I want status updates from them.  I would much rather network on line with strangers who share common interests than with people I used to know.

I came close to grabbing a screenshot of my wall before deactivating my account.  It would have illustrated my point exactly, it is not conversation that happens on Facebook.  Instead it is pompous, arrogant, show-boating with a heavy dash of egomania.  I refrained from publishing a screenshot because I don’t want to embarrass the dumb asses who post such drivel.

I had hoped to write a better post, but this has been a draft for over a week and I didn’t want it sitting around for three weeks while I am out of town.  Perhaps a future post will delve deeper into facebooks model.