I am not in a good mood.
The social experiment failed. Today, I de-friended a bunch of people that I like a lot, and deactivated my Facebook account.
Three things pushed me over the edge.
First, I had set my preferences so that I would not see the messages like “Jane Doe is now friends with Betty Jones.” While I like Jane—after all, I did friend her—and don’t have a clue who Betty is, I figure that what goes on between the two of them is none of my business. Several weeks ago, the viewing format options changed. While I could still hide those messages on my Wall and Live Feed, I could not hide them when I grouped people into lists.
Granted, not being able to do that may be a technical deficiency on my part. There may well have been a way to turn them off in lists, but I couldn’t find it. I was being bombarded with dozens of messages like that every day. It was basically irritating. Who needs irritation on a daily basis?
The second thing was a little scarier. It appeared in an on-line article by Sarah Perez. The article was called What Facebook Quizzes Know About You.
Usually, I ignored, and turned off all of those quizzes. I don’t need to take a quiz to know that my favorite movie star is Paul Gross; that the hobbit I most admire Samwise Gangee; or that the vegetable I most resemble is broccoli. Life-altering realizations like that should be discovered by private introspection, preferably after a few glasses of good white wine, in the safety of my own home.
According to Ms. Perez, ignoring the quizzes and turning them off isn’t any protection. If my Facebook friends are taking those quizzes, then all of my information is available to the person who created the quiz. Who knows who that person might be?
The third point—the tipping point—came in an on-line article/video yesterday in which Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, was interviewed. Mr. Zuckerberg said, “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. . . . We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are.”
Unlimited access to my information is not my social norm. I quit.
Granted, there are still approximately 349,999,999 other Facebook users out there who are blithely sharing everything from their home addresses to their entire educational and work history on line, so I won’t make any dent whatsoever in the pond. And yes, I do know that I haven’t really removed my information from Facebook. I’ve only deactivated it. As I logged out for the last time, Facebook assured me that, any time I care to use my existing login information, I can rejoin them at any time.
Roughly 12,000,000 of those remaining users are in Canada, and the Canadian government is not happy about Facebook, either. Back last summer a report from our Candian Privacy Commissioner found “serious privacy gaps in the way the [Facebook] site operates.” This included a clear violation of Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
The problem is there is very little that any government can do to enforce laws on the Internet.
Quote for the week:
All violations of essential privacy are brutalizing.
~Katherine Fullerton Gerould, American writer (1879-1944)