Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Deactivating & Now Deleting Facebook, Part 2

It turns out that removing yourself from Facebook is an ordeal. While you CAN deactivate your account pretty much at the time you decide to do it (I had to go online to find out how to do that, thank you very much) it seems that it takes 14 days to "delete" your account. It is "designed" to do that.

Now I feel that is the time they need to data mine whatever you might have there. 95% of all that I had on my account was from others. I really wasn't a very adept user. A friend, one of many that I told via email that I was deleting the account,  explained that they wanted to make sure you want to delete it. He explained that it took server time, which is money, to delete you and they wanted to make sure you really wanted out. I find that a rather strange account when you figure that when you delete something off your computer, its gone in a moment.

However, is Facebook, like the hated East German Stasi, so record bound that it actually takes that long to delete your records? There was an amazing movie about East Germany's secret police. When the wall fell, the West German government opened all the records that had been kept on East German citizens. The German's were stunned that there were huge buildings with row after row of records about them. It turned out that everything they did and saw and who they hung out with and even what they ate was recorded. Sound familiar?

As to the responses from friends and family, it seems that it is a generational thing. Older people, those around my age of 67 were far more likely to not have a Facebook account. As you move down the age scale the number went up but even there, they posted little or nothing and some were amazed at how the feed grew. Others liked hearing about friends and family and found it a way to keep in touch. Some were addicted to the games. But even in this group, I heard several who were getting increasingly upset about the way their lives were being tracked and put up for all to see. Many admitted it was a time sink and had also thought about opting out. Maybe Wall Street is right. They too are wondering if the bloom is off the rose.

One friend said that there were ways to keep some of this information off your page. I retorted that I had to do a search on Google to find out how. Facebook was useless and frequently obtuse. You could go up and down every menu and still not find what you wanted. Its clear that while they may be buddies with Apple, the easy and friendly user interface hasn't migrated over in the friendship. Each time they make a change, they need to revisit not only the past issues that were private but new ones. It should be a simple check list with a statement and a yes or no if you want or do not want this service. It needs to be inviolable. Facebook already has a poor record on this.

He also noted that it was a free service and they had to find someway to make money. Ever heard of ads? I would rather know that there was someone with an ad who wanted me to buy something rather than a sly, under the dashboard tracking of what I did and where I went or was without my knowledge. One is open for all to see. The other one reeks of Huxley's 1984 or the infamous German Stasi.

Facebook needs to get back to its original mission - a way for friends and family to stay in contact. They can mine all they want but someday, and sooner than they may think, the well may end up dry.

Alan Krug:

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