Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bye Bye Facebook

Facebook was never really a good fit for me. I got swept up in it back in July 2008 and made an honest effort to get with the program. But the whole "friends" thing tripped me up right from the beginning and I never got beyond that. It sort of gives you a false sense of privacy, like your interactions are restricted to just those people you've confirmed as "friends". Except that when you actually write something on the wall of one of your "friends" you discover that it isn't just between the two of you, it's available for all their friends to read too. And that includes a whole lot of people who are total strangers to you. So my communications to each of my "friends" are essentially broadcast to a bunch of people I don't know. Which isn't so bad when we're talking about a comment on a blog post... there you'd expect your comment to be read publically. But in a platform that pretends exclusivity with the whole "confirm as friend" concept it made no sense to me.

I felt like an old fuddy-duddy because I couldn't get into the whole social networking thing. Time and time again I'd sit down and think about what I should write to who, knowing a bunch of strangers would be reading it. Each time all I'd come up with was superficial stuff... e.g. How's the weather where you are? or a generic "happy birthday" to those who made their birthdates known. Anything more personal seemed like it belonged in an email.

When I read my "friends" pages, mostly what I'd find was a list of every group they joined, every "friend" they confirmed, who they sent roses, fish, etc. to, and an occasional reference to a blog post they'd written that I'd already read. I just didn't care about any of it. I don't mean that to sound cold. It's not that I don't care about my "friends" it's just that I don't care to spend my time reading all that nonsense. I have a hard enough time trying to find time to read all the great genealogy blog posts being written these days. Reading that one of my "friends" changed their profile picture just seemed like a total waste of time.

So I started going to Facebook less and less often. The one thing that kept me hanging on all this time is the Genea-Blogger's group. It's a great message board but the only way I can access it is to have a FB page. :-(

A couple days ago I read Denise's post about the new terms of service that Facebook had adopted and I was appalled. To think that Facebook would claim the rights to any and everything I post there is outrageous. I'm not having any part of it. I quit for the same reason. So I'm deactivating my Facebook page this evening. I'll miss the Genea-Blogger's group but not even that is compelling enough for me to allow Facebook the rights to my work.

When I checked in to FB one last time this afternoon I discovered this message on my page:

Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms
we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to
our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised.
For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

A temporary reprieve it seems. Presumably this is my chance to delete my photos without FB having the option to use them forever. So I did that. But I'm not convinced that FB won't come to this same end place from a different angle in the future in spite of their request for user input in crafting a new TOS statement. So as soon as I can figure out how to delete my account/page I'm going to do so.

Like Tim, I'm surprised that more genea-bloggers haven't voiced an opinion on their blogs about this. Given how quickly people were to speak out against when they took it upon themselves to use people's content without their permission, I expected to hear more outrage at FB. Maybe it feels different because Ancestry was actually doing that while FB is just saying they have the right to do that. Well, it's all the same to me.

Bye Bye Facebook.


  1. I think you made the right choice.
    Most social websites are not very
    private and for them to own your
    information is scary... sounds like
    a "big brother" thing to me.

  2. Totally understand your thoughts about the whole thing. It was pretty distressing to read the info about FB. I am careful about posting sensitive information and certain pictures. Upside is that I have reconnected with cousins and gotten others interested in family history. And I don't have time for the silly games and sending gifts, but I do like to search for family.

  3. Jasia,

    I fully support your decision. In this Information Age, it seemed that, at first, Facebook might be a way to interact with others more successfully. But, I've found it extraneous. I prefer blogging and commenting and e-mailing. At least I know an e-mail will be directed just to the person I want it to be (though they could forward it on), and I've never gotten a sense of belonging from Facebook as I do from fellow genealogy/family history bloggers. For me, Facebook has just been plain overload, and I've never really utilized it. I guess it's a lesson that I shouldn't feel obligated to participate in something simply because it seems the "thing to do."

  4. First congrats on your award. Second, you've been give a second award over at my blog... I nominated you, because I happened to come across your blog and loved it. If not for your blog, I would have never created mine. So, I thought you deserved the award.

  5. Thank you Robin! That's so sweet of you! :-D

  6. I'm sorry it din't work out for you. The peer presure to join has really been building for me and I've felt a bit of an outcast. I hope to see more people leaving comments where everyone can see them rather than notes on a "wall". I did expect to see a lot of discussion when I saw the fb story on the news.

    (I'm on a public computer so I won't sign into google.)