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 Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook

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PostSubject: Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook   Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:31 pm

Facebook privacy policies keep going down the drain. That’s enough reason for many to abandon it. Here you will find nine more:
After some reflection, I’ve decided to delete my account on
Facebook. I’d like to encourage you to do the same. This is part
altruism and part selfish. The altruism part is that I think Facebook,
as a company, is unethical. The selfish part is that I’d like my own
social network to migrate away from Facebook so that I’m not missing
anything. In any event, here’s my “Top Ten” reasons for why you should
join me and many others and delete your account.



10. Facebook’s Terms Of Service are completely one-sided

Let’s start with the basics. Facebook’s Terms Of Service state that
not only do they own your data (section 2.1), but if you don’t keep it
up to date and accurate (section 4.6), they can terminate your account
(section 14). You could argue that the terms are just protecting
Facebook’s interests, and are not in practice enforced, but in the
context of their other activities, this defense is pretty weak. As
you’ll see, there’s no reason to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Essentially, they see their customers as unpaid employees for
crowd-sourcing ad-targeting data.






9. Facebook’s CEO has a documented history of unethical behavior


From the very beginning of Facebook’s existence, there are questions about Zuckerberg’s ethics.
According to BusinessInsider.com, he used Facebook user data to guess
email passwords and read personal email in order to discredit his
rivals. These allegations, albeit unproven and somewhat dated,
nonetheless raise troubling questions about the ethics of the CEO of the
world’s largest social network. They’re particularly compelling given
that Facebook chose to fork over $65M to settle a related lawsuit
alleging that Zuckerberg had actually stolen the idea for Facebook.



8. Facebook has flat out declared war on privacy


Founder and CEO of Facebook, in defense of Facebook’s privacy changes
last January: “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing
more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more
people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”
More recently, in introducing the Open Graph API: “… the default is
now social.” Essentially, this means Facebook not only wants to know
everything about you, and own that data, but to make it available to
everybody. Which would not, by itself, necessarily be unethical, except
that …



7. Facebook is pulling a classic bait-and-switch


At the same time that they’re telling developers how to access your data with new APIs, they are relatively quiet about explaining the implications
of that to members. What this amounts to is a bait-and-switch.
Facebook gets you to share information that you might not otherwise
share, and then they make it publicly available. Since they are in the
business of monetizing information about you for advertising purposes,
this amounts to tricking their users into giving advertisers
information about themselves. This is why Facebook is so much worse
than Twitter in this regard: Twitter has made only the simplest (and
thus, more credible) privacy claims and their customers know up front
that all their tweets are public. It’s also why the FTC is getting
involved, and people are suing them (and winning).
Check out this excellent timeline from the EFF documenting the changes to Facebook’s privacy policy.



6. Facebook is a bully


When Pete Warden demonstrated just how this bait-and-switch works
(by crawling all the data that Facebook’s privacy settings changes had
inadvertently made public) they sued him. Keep in mind, this happened
just before they announced the Open Graph API and stated that the
“default is now social.” So why sue an independent software developer
and fledgling entrepreneur for making data publicly available when
you’re actually already planning to do that yourself? Their real agenda
is pretty clear: they don’t want their membership to know how much data
is really available. It’s one thing to talk to developers about how
great all this sharing is going to be; quite another to actually see
what that means in the form of files anyone can download and load into
MatLab.



5. Even your private data is shared with applications


At this point, all your data is shared with applications that you
install. Which means now you’re not only trusting Facebook, but the
application developers, too, many of whom are too small to worry much
about keeping your data secure. And some of whom might be even more
ethically challenged than Facebook. In practice, what this means is
that all your data – all of it – must be effectively considered public,
unless you simply never use any Facebook applications at all. Coupled
with the OpenGraph API, you are no longer trusting Facebook, but the
Facebook ecosystem.



4. Facebook is not technically competent enough to be trusted


Even if we weren’t talking about ethical issues here, I can’t trust
Facebook’s technical competence to make sure my data isn’t hijacked.
For example, their recent introduction of their “Like” button makes it
rather easy for spammers to gain access to my feed and spam my social
network. Or how about this gem for harvesting profile data?
These are just the latest of a series of Keystone Kops mistakes, such
as accidentally making users’ profiles completely public, or the
cross-site scripting hole that took them over two weeks to fix. They
either don’t care too much about your privacy or don’t really have very
good engineers, or perhaps both.



3. Facebook makes it incredibly difficult to truly delete your account


It’s one thing to make data public or even mislead users about doing
so; but where I really draw the line is that, once you decide you’ve
had enough, it’s pretty tricky to really delete your account.
They make no promises about deleting your data and every application
you’ve used may keep it as well. On top of that, account deletion is
incredibly (and intentionally) confusing. When you go to your account
settings, you’re given an option to deactivate your account, which
turns out not to be the same thing as deleting it. Deactivating means
you can still be tagged in photos and be spammed by Facebook (you
actually have to opt out of getting emails as part of the deactivation,
an incredibly easy detail to overlook, since you think you’re deleting
your account). Finally, the moment you log back in, you’re back like
nothing ever happened! In fact, it’s really not much different from not
logging in for awhile. To actually delete your account, you have to
find a link buried in the on-line help (by “buried” I mean it takes
five clicks to get there). Or you can just click here. Basically,
Facebook is trying to trick their users into allowing them to keep
their data even after they’ve “deleted” their account.



2. Facebook doesn’t (really) support the Open Web


The so-called Open Graph API is named so as to disguise its
fundamentally closed nature. It’s bad enough that the idea here is that
we all pitch in and make it easier than ever to help Facebook collect
more data about you. It’s bad enough that most consumers will have no
idea that this data is basically public. It’s bad enough that they
claim to own this data and are aiming to be the one source for
accessing it. But then they are disingenuous enough to call it “open,”
when, in fact, it is completely proprietary to Facebook. You can’t use
this feature unless you’re on Facebook. A truly open implementation
would work with whichever social network we prefer, and it would look
something like OpenLike. Similarly, they implement just enough of
OpenID to claim they support it, while aggressively promoting a
proprietary alternative, Facebook Connect.



1. The Facebook application itself ****s


Between the farms and the mafia wars and the “top news” (which
always guesses wrong – is that configurable somehow?) and the myriad
privacy settings and the annoying ads (with all that data about me, the
best they can apparently do is promote dating sites, because, uh, I’m
single) and the thousands upon thousands of crappy applications,
Facebook is almost completely useless to me at this point. Yes, I could
probably customize it better, but the navigation is ridiculous, so I
don’t bother. (And, yet, somehow, I can’t even change colors or apply
themes or do anything to make my page look personalized.) Let’s not
even get into how slowly your feed page loads. Basically, at this
point, Facebook is more annoying than anything else.
Facebook is clearly determined to add every feature of every
competing social network in an attempt to take over the Web (this is a
never-ending quest that goes back to AOL and those damn CDs that were
practically falling out of the sky). While Twitter isn’t the most
usable thing in the world, at least they’ve tried to stay focused and
aren’t trying to be everything to everyone.
I often hear people talking about Facebook as though they were some
sort of monopoly or public trust. Well, they aren’t. They owe us
nothing. They can do whatever they want, within the bounds of the laws.
(And keep in mind, even those criteria are pretty murky when it comes
to social networking.) But that doesn’t mean we have to actually put up
with them. Furthermore, their long-term success is by no means
guaranteed – have we all forgotten MySpace? Oh, right, we have.
Regardless of the hype, the fact remains that Sergei Brin or Bill Gates
or Warren Buffett could personally acquire a majority stake in
Facebook without even straining their bank account. And Facebook’s
revenue remains more or less a rounding error for more established tech
companies.
While social networking is a fun new application category enjoying
remarkable growth, Facebook isn’t the only game in town. I don’t like
their application nor how they do business and so I’ve made my choice
to use other providers. And so can you.


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