Should we all just #DeleteFacebook? I mean, throughout 2018 they demonstrated just how dirty a business they're inside. And honestly, when was the last time you enjoyed your timeline? But Facebook has become a communication platform unlike any other in history, and one that's difficult to simply toss away.
I like where @DHH is going:
We've decided to become a Facebook-Free Business at @basecamp starting today. No Facebook, Instagram, no WhatsApp. No ads. No profiles. No pages. No usage. No more. Run your own business? Consider joining up. https://t.co/Fz6s4zjjQx— DHH (@dhh) December 19, 2018
Basecamp has a brand, and for their—mostly technically-sophisticated—users, it's alright to skip Facebook as a communication medium. How about the rest of the world, though? The 2B+ regular Facebook users?
Consider the vast amount of information that passes through the website, aside from all the selfies, memes and fake news:
- businesses, large and small, communicate with their patrons. I personally follow a few of my favorite, local cafes, to see when they have something new on offer, or if they're closed during holidays. There's also my music school, my favorite bike shop, my coffee roaster…
- the city of Warsaw maintains profiles with information on road closures, traffic disruptions, but also investments in new infrastructure, streets, cycling paths. I'm personally interested in these development and follow them closely.
- several events post updates about preparations, participation and other useful areas. These, for me, include sports events like Gran Fondo and IronMan 70.3 Gdynia, plus important, social causes, like the annual Warsaw Pride Parade.
- there's my local cycling group, that uses Facebook to schedule multiple rides a week during the season, and some off-season.
- there's a group for each major city letting people offer anything to give away for free, which they'd otherwise throw away. I'm happy to use it to let go of obsolete belongings.
On top of that, Facebook runs Messenger—an instant messenger with an evergreen address book. I can use ot to reach nearly anyone I met in my life, without having to know their up-to-date email address or phone number. Even WhatsApp doesn't work this way, because you have to have someone's phone number first.
You see, we can't just “build personal websites”, like some are suggest, because Facebook has long been much more than a way of sharing life events with your extended circle of friends. And even if everybody—all persons physical and legal—decided to get off the service and build their own websites, there's nothing like the convenience of having all this information in one place, one stream of information—your Facebook timeline.
And don't get me started on RSS. It's been around for decades and never took off. I love it, but I'm tech-savvy enough to endure the pain of using it, while most of the world's population did not and will not.
What do we do then? What did I do?
I removed most of the personal information from my Facebook profile. I left the bare minimum to stay on the platform and for people to be able to find me. All employment history is gone. Albums and photos posted before 2018, also gone. I'll be keeping it this way going forward. Plus, I'm using EFF's Privacy Badger, so the pervasike “Like” buttons around the web don't bother me much. I decided to stick around, while feeding Facebook with the least possible amount of information on myself and my habits. We know they cannot be trusted with it.