Previous post: Citizens, Not Robots
It is rare to find a Facebook user that doesn’t have some valid criticism or problem with the platform. In addition to Facebook’s uselessness as a network for exchanging ideas, exercising one's citizenship, and conducting business, we can add the fact that most informed users don’t trust Facebook because it has repeatedly violated their privacy through numerous changes to how their personal information is presented and shared on the network; and more fundamentally, because Facebook is really in the business of collecting and marketing the communication of its users (i.e. anything posted on the site).
Remember, when the IT industry talks about openness and sharing, they mean by you, not them. While you are encouraged to share openly, their businesses are notoriously closed and opaque. This hypocrisy is the foundation of the entire Facebook (and IT industry) ethos: they want total transparency from their users, and total privacy for themselves. Facebook does not benefit from you doing business outside of their ecosystem, so they have designed a site that generates superficial material status chatter from which they can profit, while trying to divert individual users from communicating directly with each other in the real world. So the obvious question is: why not delete one’s account and leave the network?
When Facebook came online, many people signed up due to its novelty and the fact that they could easily “connect” with friends and acquaintances. And while MySpace had already anticipated Facebook, it suffered from a focus on music and a poor user interface, and people weren’t yet ready for the idea of an online social network. Facebook’s initial popularity was mostly built on the fact that it provided the ability to post pictures and to organize group events quickly and easily. In other words, it was a glorified email account with more convenience and less accountability. But with time people began to see the platform’s limitations: The Facebook network was by nature and design superficial; and more importantly Facebook, the company, did not respect individual privacy and always sought ways to make the network more “open” (for their own economic benefit), to the point that users began to see the company for what it was: a predatory for-profit business based on the exploitation of their personal information, or more accurately their identity, which was systematically destroying their privacy. After numerous privacy violations resulting from aggressive monetization schemes, and a user interface that was increasingly and deliberately confusing, many had had enough of the site. But then they realized that leaving was not so easy . . .