Do I need Facebook?

Short answer: No

Long Answer: No, I don’t.

By now you have all heard of Facebook. You may use, love, adore, hate, or want to stab it. Either way, the point is, you have heard of it. I never really saw a use case for it that fit anything I wanted to do online so I never signed up for an account. This changed about a month ago when I decided I would give it a shot and see what all the craze was about. I got a lot of pressure from friends on Facebook, saying I “needed to be on it!” Apparently all of the MANY other ways I exploit myself online were not enough. I signed up and was quickly reminded of why I had not signed up for this in the past. The interface alone is enough to make you throw up. The layout is hideously cluttered with everything you don’t want to see or care about. I am no “design expert” but come on already with the horrible ad selection and lack of page layout preferences.

Over the past few weeks it has been hard to read any news without seeing something concerning Facebook security and privacy issues. This may be due to Facebook mis-coding a lot lately, or more than likely, people are finally becoming aware of exactly what is going on with Facebook. I believe the majority of users were blindly using the service assuming the privacy settings they were using were adequate. They really had no reason not to think Facebook was doing things that were in the user’s best interest. That combined with the fact that I think people tend to turn a blind eye when it comes to something they really like.

Facebook, to me, seems to be trying to become the AOL of 1996. They seem to want you to come into Facebook’s world, and once there, never leave. Ever. If what you want is not something tied into Facebook, you don’t really need it. A walled garden, yes. But depending on the type of walls and what the “graden” looks like, that can also be described as a prison. Anytime someone is trying to lock down any part of the web, there is cause for concern.

The fact that Facebook did not seem to solve any problem I had, combined with the fact that they seemed to be doing all they could to give out everyone’s data which the users thought was private, I decided to just get rid of the account before I got burned. I went ahead and went to my account preferences and chose to close my account, or “deactivate” as they called it.

Deactivating turned out to not be the same as deleting. It would seem as though Facebook would like to trick you into thinking you have removed your account when, in fact, you have not. When you “deactivate” your account, all that has been accomplished is that your profile is no longer visible. You are still a user and linked to everything you were linked to before. This is very annoying, and if you want to actually remove your account from their system you have to follow another path. By going to http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?showform=deleteaccount and filling out the necessary info, including captchas, just in case nasty robots try to delete your account! sarcasm

I am by no means saying you should absolutely go delete your account right now. If you find Facebook useful, then keep it. Just be aware that what you think is private online, most likely is not. If you don’t want anyone to see it or know about it, don’t put it online. Have you seen the t-shirt that says “I Read Your Email.”? Ya, that isn’t really a joke. Be careful out there.

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