Why I’ve removed all but my name from Facebook

By Matt Cornock

I might not be one of those activists that has completely deactivate their Facebook profile or those lucky enough to actually have their profile deleted by the powers that be, but I’m getting a little annoyed about the whole terms and conditions saga. It’s been well documented in the news and on networks that Facebook’s attitude to privacy, ownership and rights is somewhat lacking in user-focus. Their change of heart over a section of the terms and conditions which granted Facebook rights to do whatever they wanted with user information, data or files, seemed obviously reactive. What I mean by that is that they appeared to be expecting to get away with it. I’m quite protective over my personal information and anything that I create, so that’s why I stripped my account down to its bare bones.

Now, if you’re looking for some scientific, proof-based documentary on the whole Facebook privacy issues thing, then look elsewhere. However, I wanted to share my current views (which in a few months time may change for the worse or better).

It’s important to realise that some people will only speak in Facebook. The only way they communicate is on mass via their status or the dreaded invite-to-event/group tool. These types rarely look at old-fashioned email and soley depend on Facebook for communication. Now I won’t bore you with my anger at that, but I do realise that as a means to get hold of some, Facebook is (sadly) a direct, often only, connection to their brain.

Now Facebook has a nice message system which collects all the attempts people make to grab your attention. If you lag behind though, for example you go off to make a cup of tea, you can end up swamped in a mass of inane invites for the ‘give me $1 to stick a graphic on your profile’ aps, ‘lets go drink and wear silly hats’ events, ‘I love Boris Johnson’ groups and the like. Oh, and occasionally, a personal message. Needless to say I’ve started applying the ‘ignore’ feature to everyone. No invites, no applications, nothing aside from the basic hand-typed, non-automated message.

At this point you must be wondering if I have something against social networking. I don’t. I would just rather the social bit was a little less overt. For me the whole social networking is an exponentially growing bubble and there’s certain responsibilities that owners of such sites have to their users. What these responsibilities are and how they should be carried out is only for the users to decide.

Until a time when the web gains a little common sense, I’ve removed all personal info, all my photos and anything else on there, so that I use Facebook as a way to contact those who don’t speak in any other channel and I can control under my own terms what I share and to who.

Social networking sites are developed under the Web 2.0 ethos (I’ll be writing about that later I’m sure). Essentially, value comes from the public user. It’s clear therefore that without the public, social networking sites are nothing and hold no value. My advice for Facebook then would be to remember what makes the site the way it is and to respect its users. Facebook is a service, but it should not be complacent in thinking it is doing its users a favour by providing this service. In a few years, when something else, something more atune to its users comes along, then where will Facebook be? Like MySpace?

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