Shakespeare said, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” (Romeo & Juliet, in case you’re interested.) But not for me. I made the decision to part ways with Facebook.
I’ve never really cared for Facebook – their vague privacy settings, their data mining, their sale of my information to anyone they chose. But a few things lately have finally ‘gotten my goat,’ so to speak, and I made the decision to deactivate my Facebook account. (I say ‘deactivate’ because I’ve yet to find a way to actually ‘delete’ my information on Facebook.)
Now, everyone knows that it is against Facebook’s TOS to set up a profile using an ‘avatar’ name or some other pseudonym. But millions of people have done it, and Facebook seems to be very lackadaisical about policing that particular aspect of their TOS.
About a month ago, many of my friends on Facebook starting changing the names on their SL/avatar profiles to match their ‘real life’ names because there was another ongoing round of account deletions and they were afraid that their account would be targeted next. Which is fine, that’s their choice. However, I don’t know some of these people outside of SL. So if I know you as Meegan Foxhound and suddenly you show up as Jane Foster, I’m confused as hell. 😛
And then Facebook had the gall to delete the accounts of some drag queens. *Cue dramatic music* The drag queens have taken Facebook on, demanding that they be allowed to use their ‘chosen’ name. Facebook has stood firm, telling the divas that they can either use their ‘legal’ name or they can change their profile to a ‘page.’ What’s the difference between a page and a profile?
If you are a ‘profile,’ people you know see your posts. (Only about 16% of them see your post, but that’s a different story.) If you are a ‘page,’ you can pay Facebook to ‘promote’ whatever you are posting, thereby guaranteeing that more than 16% of your friends see what you’ve posted.
The divas have threatened to keep on fighting. Me, I don’t see the point. Sometimes the smartest thing to do is walk away.
Facebook is NOT the only player in the social media game. Google+ allows avatar/character names. Move over there – that’s what many SLers have already done. As more people move to Google+, the more robust and useful it will be. And as more and more people abandon Facebook, it will be forced to change its TOS, or go the way of MySpace. Or, you can sign up for ASN (Avatar Social Network) – a social network specifically designed for those who have a virtual/online identity and want to keep it separate (or not) from their ‘real life.’
The proverbial ‘last straw’ for me was reading a story about how Facebook was experimenting on its users without their knowledge. You can read about it here. The article quotes Kate Crawford, visiting professor at MIT’s Center for Civic Media and principal researcher at Microsoft Research, and her response sums up my feelings: “It’s completely unacceptable for the terms of service to force everybody on Facebook to participate in experiments.” Ms. Crawford said it points to broader problem in the data science industry. Ethics are not “a major part of the education of data scientists and it clearly needs to be,” she said.
No longer your data whore