I deleted my Facebook account three months ago.
I’m very glad I did. Here’s why.
It started badly…
Back in 2007 I was living overseas. Facebook was a great way of keeping in touch with friends and family. A useful platform that was free 👍. And of course the poking; lots of poking.
I loved the photo sharing, which meant I would periodically select highlight photos from various adventures and upload them – laboriously in those days via a USB stick at in internet cafe – remember them?!
As well as meeting a genuine demand from friends and family there was of course a sprinkling of good old fashioned showing off, for which I am not particularly proud, but hey, we’re all human.
Taking time to review and describe these photos also had a useful reflective element; it would inevitably prompt memories and further thoughts. I was cataloguing my life in a similar way to scrap-bookers and journalers.
Sure, it was a bit of a time sink, but pretty harmless, right?
Except that deep down we all knew why Zuck was encouraging us to share so much… for his real customers; the advertisers. Warning signs were there from day one; privacy concerns, annoying and irrelevant ads, and the dubious ethics surrounding the company origin story.
And tailed off a little bit in the middle
Goaded on by endless notifications and other sneaky tricks (e.g. intermittent reinforcement) to maximise user time on the platform my main news feed quickly became a high-frequency stream of low value nonsense.
Curating my feed became a full-time job; turn off that notification, ignore that game request, hide that one ‘friend’ with crazy views, mute this for 30 days, block that permanently, etc etc. Keeping up with the different settings was like playing whack-a-mole.
One New Year’s Eve my wife and I both ceremonially deleted the mobile App from our phones. We would still use laptop/desktop from time to time but wanted to reduce the temptation to use the mobile app as a time filler when out and about. Only then did it sink in how much time we were wasting.
And the less said about the end the better
The Cambridge Analytica scandal was the beginning of the end for me. Watching The Social Dilemma# was the final nail in the coffin.
It was now very clear that, not only aren’t Facebook competent enough to look after our information, they are selling it to the highest bidders, and with no real regard to the individual or societal consequences.
The crux of the problem is, and has always been, that Facebook’s ‘free’ ad-driven business model relies on and amplifies content that is most engaging (read shocking) rather than most useful or beneficial.
“The algorithms know us better that we know ourselves … are indifferent to our wellbeing, have registered that the key vehicles and drivers of engagement are extremism, polarisation and rage.
When Facebook says it’s mission is “To bring the world closer together” it’s Latin for creating the olympics for most inflammatory posts to sell more ads.(Professor) Scott Galloway
2 simple reasons to delete your Facebook account (right now)
1 Life is short and we have far better things to do with our time. I haven’t included my own personal (virtue-signalling 😉) list here; there’s little value in that. You know what’s important to you; focus on that. There’s so much to choose from. For me it has freed up time and energy that I was otherwise squandering to use on things that matter to me ❤️
2 The current business model is rotten. It is already clearly causing harm and I suspect it will end in tears. Tears for shareholders, and more tears for users and wider society. Voting with our feet and leaving sends a clear and strong signal for the demand for a better platform.
See Jaron Lanier’s book# for many more excellent reasons (if you need them).
“But what about the neighbour’s cat?” and other excuses
You may have real and valid reasons for needing to continue to use Facebook.
But let’s just check those aren’t the kind of irrelevant excuses that we sometimes dupe ourselves with…
“But I need Facebook to keep in contact with Aunty Mary overseas.” No, you don’t. You managed before Facebook and you can manage again. Plus Aunty Mary would probably much prefer a personal phone call, video call, voice message, letter, email etc. Next..
“But there’s this one really cool group I belong to and I’m worried I’ll miss out.” Yeah, me too! There were two hill running Facebook groups full of inspiring yet humble and supportive folks that I’m no longer part of. The thing is, I still hear the important news because, guess what – other communication channels are available 🙂 Next!
“But I only check it once in a while.” Hmmm.. yeah, okay. That’s what I thought until I checked my screen time stats. Look at your weekly number, multiply it by 52 and ask yourself if that time is a good investment and what else you would rather do with that time.
“But I don’t have EVERYONE’S phone number or email” That’s probably because they aren’t really a close friend and you don’t really need to contact them. If you do want to contact each other in future you’ll be able to track each other down easily via mutual friends and other platforms.
“But what about all my photos and messages from over the years? I don’t want to lose them all.” Got you covered here 👍. You can easily download all of your information – see step 1 below.
Push the button – easy as 123
1 Download all of your information from Facebook. (5 minutes) Why? Most usefully, you get a copy of all of your photos and videos. Less useful but kinda eye-opening is a history of every like, comment, message, poke, login etc.
step 1 Instructions
- Log into Facebook via a Browser (not the mobile App).
- Select the blue down arrow in the top tight hand corner (next to the notifications bell)
- Select “Settings & Privacy” then “Settings” from the dropdown lists
- A new large “Settings” window will appear. Select the “Your Facebook Information” option from the left hand menu.
- This will give you access to the two key “Download your information” and “Deactivation and Deletion” options.
- Select “Download your information” then select “Create File”. The default options (Date range=All, Format=HTML, Media quality=High) are fine.
- Twiddle your thumbs for a minute or so while you wait for the email from Facebook containing a folder with all your information (it’s surprisingly quick).
- Open the email, save the contents of the folder somewhere secure and delete the email. (Resist the temptation to browse the folder contents – it will be there if you ever do need it)
2 Delete your account. (2 minutes) “Wait, don’t I need to let people know in advance?” No. Posting about your intent to leave is like telling people you are about to leave a party early – someone will try to stop you, get you another drink, and you will be stuck. Don’t.
step 2 instructions
- From the same “Your Facebook Information” page above select the “Deactivation and Deletion” option, which will give you the screen below.
- Select the “Delete Account” radio button and then the big blue “Continue to Account Deletion” button. Your account will go into stealth mode for 30 days before being permanently deleted.
- Delete the mobile App from your phone and let out a relaxed sigh of relief, while imagining what cool stuff you are going to do with all that free time 😁
3 Tell any important people you often interact with on Facebook that you aren’t ignoring them / haven’t fallen under a bus. (2 minutes) Here’s what I used: “I’ve left Facebook so unfortunately might be a little out of that loop at times! Planning to be better at keeping in touch via other means 😁🤞”
That’s it. Take a bow 👏. Use your time well.
I hope you found this post helpful. Please leave a comment or share this post – but not via Facebook 😉
PS – Yes, other social media platforms are also problematic.. “What about Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc…?” That’s a blog post for another day… 🙂
- Book: “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now” ~ Jaron Lanier https://amzn.to/3fcDT5D
- Podcast Series: “Rabbit hole” ~ New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/column/rabbit-hole
- Feature Film: “The Social Dilemma” ~ Netflix https://www.netflix.com/title/81254224
- TED Talk video: “How we need to remake the internet” ~ Jaron Lanier https://youtu.be/qQ-PUXPVlos
- Website: https://algotransparency.org/
- Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Facebook
- Statista chart of active users: https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/
- Twitter account listing top ten performing Facebook posts every day: https://twitter.com/facebookstop10