Facebook, I Loved You. And You Blew It.

I can't do it anymore. I wish I could, but this just isn't working out, Facebook. The lies, the viruses, the two-timing with advertisers, I just can't handle it all. I don't have the time or the energy to deal with all of your deceptions and all of your constant attacks on my privacy. I need my personal space. I think I want to try other social networking sites, and I think it's best that I leave you alone with your soul mates: the advertisers, the identity thieves, the stalkers, and the spies. It will be better this way.

Sure, we had some great times in the beginning. How could I forget the first time I got invited to join you? I was a high schooler then, and it was a simpler world. You were simpler too. I mean, you were only for students. Just to get an account you had to be invited and have a school email address. I loved that about you. And anything I put on that account, I knew that only my friends could access that data. I loved that about you too. You were open and honest about what you did with my data, and who got to see it. No convoluted and mostly broken privacy controls, no "strongly encouraged" sharing of information, no applications intentionally trying to subvert privacy rules. You were absolutely amazing, and I loved the simplicity of it all. Life was good.

But then you started changing. Little things at first. You let anyone sign up on you, exposing me to viruses, stalkers, and a wide range of other abuses. You redesigned yourself again and again, as if you weren't sure who you wanted to be. And I could never understand that. I understand that change doesn't have to be bad, but I always thought you were perfect exactly the way you were the first time I logged in. I should have seen it coming then, but I was still too naive and in love with you to care. I didn't realize that it symptomatic of something deeper inside of you. Something tearing you apart. A secret passion for someone other than me, your user. Yes, I speak of your sordid affair with the advertisers.

I understood when I got into this that you needed things for our relationship to work. You needed to make money. And advertising was the only feasible way to do that. But did you really, really need to jump into bed with the sleaziest advertisers you could find, without a second thought, and do all kinds of unspeakable things to my personal data? I'm not going to lie, it hurt. A lot. I felt so betrayed. The signs of your betrayal were everywhere. I tried hard to ignore them, push them away, and to deal with your ever-increasing mistreatment of my personal data. I thought, "Surely, this will be the last time you betray me Facebook. Surely, you realize what we have is something special, and you won't betray my trust again." And I kept telling myself that, every single time you did something stupid, like claim privacy was dead, or reset everyone's privacy settings to share everything, or let random applications access all your personal data. But I just can't keep doing this.

In the last week, three more big things happened, three things you did that finally drove me over the edge. First was the advent of applications that can silently install themselves, with no user approval, giving them access to personal data. There's absolutely no reason, ever, that an application that I didn't explicitly approve should be allowed to access my information. Are you trying to do the identity thieves' jobs for them? Second, you took away my about me / interests page and tried to force me, in place of that, to make all of my interests public by making them "fan pages". Because of your broken privacy controls, there was, up until a couple days ago, no way to hide those pages from everyone in the world, and there's still no way, to my knowledge, to actually prevent people who are also "fans" of the same pages from seeing your preferences. Build a bot that is a fan of everything, and it completely defeats the system. Why would you do this, Facebook? Why would you sacrifice a great, working system, and make it terrible and invasive? It's clear that you only do things anymore because your advertisers want it, not because you want to make me, your user, have a good experience and connect with my friends. Finally, there's this exploit, which allows people to spy on others' conversations using only their browser and Facebook's own privacy settings tool. That's just pathetic, coming from an organization that I trusted with so much of my life's information.

So that's it. I wish so badly things didn't have to end this way, Facebook, but we're going to have to go our separate ways. We'll still see each other from time to time of course, but it's never going to be the same. I just can't, in good conscience, keep being your user. I'd say that I'm sorry, but I'm not. This really is your fault, and there's nothing you can do now to fix it. The time for that has passed. It was a great ride, and I thank you for the good times, but now I'm going to have to get off and advise everyone I know to do the same. Goodbye Facebook.


Written by admin in Life, Technology on Thu 06 May 2010. Tags: dearjohn, facebook, goodbye, privacy,


Copyright Ben Schmidt 2015