Friday, October 12, 2012

Finally Deleted My Facebook Account

I stopped using Facebook a year or so ago.  I deleted all my entries on my "Wall".   But Facebook keeps putting them back.  Weird and Creepy!

I don't use Facebook.  Why?  Because when I do, I am creating content on the Internet that I have no control over.  When you log onto a website and post something, usually there is a way you can go back and delete it, later on.   However, many sites today claim ownership of your content and do not provide any means for you to edit or delete comments later on.

Facebook at first, appears to allow you to control your own page - set up your profile and add, delete, or edit items on "your" wall.  But "your" wall is the Property of Facebook and they own the content.  Even after you delete it.  Because you when you delete content, it merely "hides" it from view - for a while.

I noticed this after logging onto Facebook for the first time in ages.  They have changed the format so dramatically, I could no longer recognize it.    While my postings were all deleted from my "wall" they popped up again on my "timeline".    So I deleted them there.  I logged in today, trying to move photos from the site, only to find that new "deleted" posts now appear on my "timeline" again.

In fact, just now, I went onto Facebook, and deleted all the entries on my "timeline".   When I go back to the page - new entries (previously deleted from my "wall") are now present.   This is very scary.

When you go on any web page an upload photos, write comments, create stories, etc. you are creating CONTENT for the owner of the web page.  And often this CONTENT is out of your control, and can be used for a number of nefarious purposes - by the web page owner, or others.

For example, I used to use WEBSHOTS to upload photos and create albums.  But WebShots was sold, or changed, and suddenly, it has an awful lot of banner and sidebar ads, and is very hard to use.  For a while, they even experimented with a proprietary photo format, to make it impossible to download pictures from the site, once you uploaded them!  But once you have uploaded 100 photo albums, are you going to erase them or move them?  Of course not!  Too much hassle!

There was a Chrome "app" to move facebook pictures to Picasa - Move2Picasa.  But Facebook got wise to this and created a block, so if you try to use the application, it will say "api authorization required" and no one has apparently done a work-around.   And even if when it moves the pictures, it erases the captions.   Facebook isn't stupid - they want you to put a lot of time and energy into their site, so you feel compelled to "stay on it".

Of course, this is true with other sites - including Blogger.   And often, I find my content has been hijacked by fly-by-night sites that use it to generate click revenue or to sell odious deals.   I am chagrined to see my postings about crappy loan deals cut-and-pasted to websites selling.... crappy loan deals.   But it happens, a lot on the Internet.

We can't really control what the Russian Mafia does, but I think we can control our own lives, and putting up content on the Internet, so that others might profit from it, seems rather futile.

I finally erased all the postings from "Timeline".   But what's this "activity log" link?   Oh, shit - they have a whole other section that keeps all this stuff, even after you "delete" it both from your wall AND from your timeline!  And it is hard to delete things from the "activity log" -  it is a slow, painful process.....   And one comment I made to another page would  not delete at all, for some reason.  Weird.

Getting rid of Facebook content is like trying to play whack-a-mole.  No matter how hard you whack, the content keeps popping up, again and again....

So, I erased all 1200 of my photos, and unfriended all of my friends, and then changed my user name and account name to "Joe Smith"so any remaining content is attributed to him.

You can now permanently delete your facebook account, instead of just deactivating it.  Follow this link:  to delete the account.

I would suggest "scrubbing" all content as much as possible first, though - particularly posts you made to other people's walls and comments on their photos.   These may remain after your account is deleted.  Also, change the user name on your account, just to be sure that no content is linked-back to you.

Even then, the content is not deleted.  You are just "deactivated" for 14 days and if you log back into Facebook before then, your request to be deleted is voided.

Why don't I like Facebook?   Well, I've discussed it before - it is a time bandit, and is just creepy and weird and drains all your emotional energy.  The user interface is complicated and primitive at the same time - with periodic format changes that drive everyone crazy.   The online games are idiotic and pander to your addictive nature.  The sidebar ads are for utter rip-offs, which means they have no respect for their users.  The search feature is poorly done, making it impossible to find anyone online you don't already know.  And of course, their IPO stock offering was the biggest pyramid scheme on the planet.

Oh, yea, it also got boring in a real hurry.  The sort of folks who love Facebook are often vary shallow and narcissistic.   Facebook takes your photos and your comments and "Likes" and puts it all in a format that makes you look like a rock star.  Suddenly, your idiotic comments seem insightful, and your drab and dreary life looks and sounds interesting.  Of course it does - after all, your "profile" picture shows you white-water rafting!   Never mind that the picture was taken ten years ago, the first and last time you went white-water rafting.  According to Facebook, your life is just one bungee-jump after another!

But the reality is, everyone's Facebook page looks the same, and it gets to be "old hat" in a real hurry.   It is like playing a piano with only four keys - there are only so many combinations of predetermined activites that you can perform - and I guess that is comforting to some people.

And of course, the fact that their interface was not very secure was troubling as well.

But in addition to all that, they are doing more and more invasive things - often without a user's permission.  If you buy something, they want to automatically put down that you "like" it and use your purchase data to endorse a product - unless you "opt out" of this nonsense.   Even scarier is talk of Facebook "scanners" mounted in front of stores so that where you shop can be automatically uploaded as a "like" or so that purchase offers can be sent to your smart phone.

Imagine such scanners in front of the strip club, the sex store, or the porno theater.  The next day, "Jill LIKES Astro-Lube and large black Dildos!" appears on your "Wall".   Gee, no thanks.  I'll cling to what little privacy I have left.

Facebook has teamed up with Datalogix - the people who run those annoying "frequent shopper rewards cards" - to see if they can track what you buy and whether or not is was in response to one of their ads.   They may even track your prescription drug purchases.   "Bill LIKES Viagra!  A whole lot!"

Perhaps some of the reaction to these trends is a bit overboard.   But then again, these trends point out one salient fact - Facebook is a Marketing Tool that you are voluntarily signing up for.   You pour out your guts on Facebook, and tell Mark Zuckerberg your most intimate secrets.   He, in turn, sells this data to Marketers and pockets Billions.

Who in their right mind would sign up for this?  Only an idiot - and there are lots of idiots out there, by Facebook's estimation, a Billion.

Speaking of which, more than a year after they were claiming to have a Billion users, they have reached the Billion mark.  But I wonder if perhaps some of those users were like me - with dormant accounts that had not been visited in years - or even "inactive" accounts.    That is another reason I deleted my account.  It irks me to be counted as a "user" of something I no longer use.

Facebook won't go away.   Too many people have spent too much time setting up their pages and uploading photos and creating networks.   They will feel they have too much invested in it, in terms of time or energy to quit.  But then again, people did the same thing with MySpace, Second Life, and Farmville - and eventually, everyone walks away from each of those.

But I wonder if people will truly go along with this slaughterhouse methodology - allowing themselves to be lead down the chute to the marketing abattoir.  It takes a long time, but eventually, people figure out when they are being manipulated and marketed to.   And in order to make any kind of real profit, Facebook will have to exploit its users in a way which will tend to drive them away.

Whatever happens, I will be watching it from the outside now - and join the legion of people with better things to do with their time.....