WHY I BROKE UP WITH FACEBOOK – A Serious Privacy Breach
A Stormy Relationship
Facebook and I have had a tumultuous relationship for the past several years. It all began when I began noticing the influx of political ads as well as product ads that I never wanted to see on my timeline. Then, I noticed something strange. There were more political ads than friends’ posts permeating my timeline. At one time, I had over 800 family and friends on my friends list. Prior to our breakup, I began to see only a few family and friend posts; and the few I did see, were quite liberal politically. I began to wonder why Facebook limited what I saw on my timeline. Such actions made me leery of Facebook’s motivation.
The Ultimate Social Media Betrayal
Then, the major privacy breach happened. In 2014, a Facebook insider sold over 50 million Facebook user profiles to political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica. As of this article, that number has reached 87 million. I predict it will be much higher. Some media outlets claim it was a ‘researcher’ who sold the private data. However, I’m a bit more skeptical as to how this ‘researcher’ freely acquired my ‘promised’ private data to be sold to the highest bidder in the first place?
The Guise of Staying Connected
Social media has made it easier for people to stay connected. It has allowed us to acquire information instantaneously, even if some information is absolutely false. However, that’s another article for another time. So, let me get back on topic. The main culprit is Facebook Messenger. There was a time when you could message a friend via the Facebook app. Then, Facebook decided to end that option and force-feed its users the Facebook Messenger app. For several years I was reluctant to download Messenger because something just didn’t seem right on the privacy level. I was especially annoyed because the private message function of Facebook was removed. So, if I wanted to send a private message to a family member or friend, I had to use Messenger.
The Old Bait and Switch
Although Facebook claimed you could opt out of allowing access to your mobile phone’s contacts, text messages, and other private content, it still gained access to this information and stored it on their monstrous servers. And what was Facebook’s response to said breach? It blamed the user claiming we could opt out of allowing access to our private data. That’s true only if you decided to never use Messenger in the first place. Without Messenger, you’re only options were to pick up the phone and have a verbal conversation, send a text message (if you had the person’s mobile number), or post a public message for ALL to see. Facebook had accomplished its ultimate bait and switch.
Several Separations (Social Media Fasts)
As I began to become disillusioned with social media, particularly, Facebook, I began to take periodic social media fasts. My first social media fast was for 10 days, and it was difficult. I began to have withdrawals, but I was successful. Over time, each fast became easier. The longest fast was for 90 days in 2017. What was most noticeable was how I felt once I returned to Facebook. I found myself often angry, depressed, and disappointment in the horrible behaviors of seemingly good people. I found myself wanting to take fasts more often. After my last social media fast in 2017, I decreased my activities to no more than 15 minutes a day, several times a week. I knew I would eventually leave Facebook sooner or later. Then, the breach happened. That was the final straw.
The Costs of Abandoning Facebook
There are definitely costs for breaking up with Facebook. I have several groups and pages, some pages were for my books and artwork. I had a good following and many people shared my works with their family and friends. I recognized there would be costs to my leaving the relationship. However, as with any abusive relationship, I could both stay and continually allow Facebook to mistreat me, or I could leave and start anew. I chose the latter without hesitation. I deserve so much better.
Social Media’s Future
I understood that Facebook needed to satisfy its shareholders. I understand the importance of Facebook needing paying customer, (i.e. advertisers). Unfortunately for Facebook, the costs are much higher when you lose Facebook users in masse. The math is simple. No Facebook users equal no clicking on advertisements equal no revenue.
Social media’s future looks grim. Unless social media giants recognize the importance of keeping their users’ private data private and not placed on the auction block for the highest bidder, it will continue to experience user mass exodus. I’m confident there will be new social media outlets to replace Facebook. However, they must ensure user data is kept private or face a similar demise. As for me, I’m a survivor and will continue to write and socialize in persona, via email and text message, and telephone conversations. My social future looks bright. As for Facebook, only time will tell. But I won’t be there to see it. After a 10-year run, our relationship is over.