Today I got to thinking (dangerous, I know).

What purpose is Facebook really serving in my life? Ok, so I'm "friends" with a couple hundred people, most of whom I know passively at best. Many of whom I have little intent of ever wanting or needing to contact again.

And with the ever-changing privacy issues that Facebook keeps bringing up, I feel like every change the site brings just brings me yet another battle of opting-out of new features that I was opted-into by default. Today, I had to opt-out of letting my friends check me into locations. It bothers me that new features are something that I have to make a conscious (and sometimes complicated) effort to not use. And I'm not talking about useful features like an easier method of updating my profile, but features that fundamentally change the way my profile is displayed to not only my friends, but the world-at-large.

I'm a bit of an avid user of Twitter, and for a while now I've had my Twitter feed pumped straight into Facebook so I could share my 140-character nothings to both my Twitter followers (mostly Higher Education professionals) and my Facebook friends. I have a Tumblr account that I use to occasionally post random things I find on the internet. Tumblr feeds into Twitter which, ultimately, feeds into Facebook. I have my personal blog which, again feeds into Twitter and then winds up in Facebook.

It seems that, really, Facebook serves as a great final destination for my updates, but at the risk of my own privacy, which, believe it or not, I do try to take somewhat seriously, I don't know if Facebook is worth it anymore. Few people read my blog or check out my Tumblr posts. Most people couldn't care less about what I post on Twitter.

I have found that it's sites like this one here that really produce some of the best responses. I know that by posting this here, a few of you will comment and we can potentially have an intellectual conversation and/or debate. Small, close-knit sites such as this one are ideal places to connect. Facebook just seems so... passive. You post, people "like" or flat-out ignore, and everyone moves along. Twitter, quite honestly, is very similar, but I just get a kick out of it, and it's not divulging or betraying my trust when it comes to privacy (yet). I've actually had a few decent conversations through Twitter, and have found more useful information from the 140-character posts over there than I have in the hundreds of links to babies laughing, "repost this on your wall if you love God," and the various Farmville-esque apps that have flooded my Facebook news stream.

So, like I said, I did some thinking, and I made a decision. I have disabled every link to Facebook. Nothing will pipe in there anymore for the next 2 weeks. I'm going to see if (a) anybody notices and (b) if I notice/care enough at the end of the 2 weeks to continue using the service at all.

I'm going to focus on my blogs: ErikSBates.com and Challenge and Support. Going to try to create something worth reading, and, more importantly, worth writing -- even if nobody notices.

I think it'll at least make me feel better.


Nine Replies to Face-off

Scott Hardie | August 24, 2010
I really like your status updates on Facebook. You write funny stuff that's worth reading, not generic "goin to bed" or "is it Friday yet!!" updates like a lot of people. But whatever programs you're using to feed data into Facebook, the content never feeds into the streams that I read. I miss all of your updates unless I specifically look you up on the site and read your profile, which I try to make a point of doing every week or two. That's why you get a bunch of likes from me all at once. :-)

Facebook continues to be their own worst enemy on the privacy controversy. I think most people expect stuff to be opt-out these days; when you sign up for a site like Facebook, you expect them to display whatever information you provide. But when someone specifically instructs the site not to share a piece of information, they expect that to last, not to be undone three weeks later by another round of revisions that reset everything to public. Facebook needs to get this problem under control, but they probably won't for a while, because they seem to think they're invincible and the wave of popularity that they currently enjoy won't end.

Just venting now, but the privacy resets have stung me too, even though I'm comfortable sharing personal information online. I created a work account to test code for clients who want Facebook widgets, and I said I didn't want my work email address displayed, but after a few weeks, I started getting daily spam, which really hurt after six years of zealously defending my inbox from any spam whatsoever. Worse was when people I know would get the profile suggested to them and they'd send friend invitations; I kept telling Facebook not to let other people discover the profile, and a few weeks later it would suggest it again, even suggesting it to me a couple of times. Deleting it was the only way to stop this. I'm glad that when it comes to my real account, I'm fine sharing whatever information with the entire world and friending anybody, because it seems to me the only way to have a frustration-free experience on there.

Erik Bates | August 25, 2010
I guess I should figure out how to make those status updates be actual "status updates." The setup I have would just post my Twitter feed into my stream, but not as an actual status update.

I'm probably jumping the gun and getting a little extreme with the whole thing, but I do feel as though there's a bit of a Facebook addiction going on with me, so maybe a couple weeks away from it will do me some good.

I should probably face it, though: Facebook is the only way I have of keeping in touch with some friends who I actually want to keep in touch with. It's not going away, no matter how annoying it may get.

I was thinking about it yesterday. Even if, say 500,000 people are upset about something that Facebook does (and that's probably a tremendous over-estimation), that's only 0.1% of their user-base. It's going to take A LOT more than that to affect the company. There's always groups saying "One Million strong against blah blah blah". Ok, so you get one million users to protest Facebook. Aweseome. There's still 99.8% of users who aren't speaking up.

Why would Facebook listen to what is really an insignificant portion of their users?

That's partially where my concern comes. Zuckerberg and company will continue to push the envelope of what is acceptable so long as they still have 500,000,000+ people not giving a shit. I've always been a fan of the philosophy, "Majority rule. Minority rights." Facebook doesn't really seem to care about the second half of that , so long as the majority is content to let the company do what they want.

Jackie Mason | August 25, 2010
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Erik Bates | August 27, 2010
For the record: it didn't last long. I find that some of the stuff I want to share, I like to share with a lot of people. I just can't get rid of Facebook.

Sorry for the drama.

Carry on...

Amy Austin | August 27, 2010
Where's the "like" button for this convo... I can't find it!

Lori Lancaster | August 27, 2010
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Erik Bates | August 27, 2010
Sorry, Lori. I'm actually real bad about engaging . You'll notice I don't comment too often over here, either. Facebook's news feed is, to put it simply, dumb. I don't know how they figure the "Top News" to put on there, but I feel like I get more updates from people that I don't care what they're doing, and none of the news from people I am interested in.

I've found, that if I click on "Most Recent" at the top of my news feed, I get a lot more information. Maybe I'll see more stuff from you (and everyone else I am interested in) now?

Lori Lancaster | August 28, 2010
[hidden by author request]

Jackie Mason | August 28, 2010
[hidden by author request]


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