With Facebook…Why I Left It

facebook privacy

I didn’t like the timeline.

I joined Facebook many years ago, when it was first opened to the general public. It was a lot different then. Actually I joined it, couldn’t figure it out so didn’t go back there for another six months. When I went back the second time, my account was still active and this time, I *got it*. I wa active on FB for years, posting this, that and the other. As you do. As much as I like social media I would always keep my eyes open for security and privacy issues.

Why Did They Have To Change?

Being a website developer means I completely understand why websites need to change regularly. I’ve posted on it before. It is usually for the benefit of the end user. But back in late September 2011, when FB announced their new changes I didn’t like what I was hearing. I believe they have an agenda. An agenda that I don’t like the sound of.

I understand the need for change. Yet, the changes that Facebook and Google (Yes, let’s not leave them out of it) make seem to push the settings toward disclosure, not privacy. No wonder we feel like we’re the frog in the pot.

Watching parts of the F8 conference (Yes, I must have too much time on my hands) shocked me. FB are targeting the younger generation, from 13yo upwards. Apparently, my age group is one of the largest demographics already on fb… they want to reach the younger crowd. Enter, the timeline. FB encourages us to build our personal profile, giving us the tools to do so. From birth to the present. That’s a lot of personal data on every user.

Previously when a parent wanted to stalk er, look up their child’s friends or boyfriend we had to scroll down the page, clicking ‘older posts’  to find possible incriminating info. Now, the new Timeline makes user data ridiculously easy to uncover. As a parent, I don’t mind this. But think of the possibilities for hackers, scammers or identity thieves!

They Gave Me Seven Days

I opted to test the timeline feature early so that I could learn about it. The more I played er, tested it, the more I didn’t like it. Oh it’s groovy and cool and neat but it’s a stalker’s playground. When trialling the timeline, FB gave me 7 days before my new timeline would go live. 7 Days to make sure all my previous status updates were set to who I wanted them to be with the new settings. Much easier said than done when one has been active for a few years.

I downloaded all my fb info (profile, status updates, etc) into a zip folder. I unzipped it and had a look. Wow, I didn’t realise exactly how much information I had shared, and I’m usually on top of things like that. There was no way I could go over several years of updates and hide things from the public view in 7 days. It would have taken a month of Sundays and occasionally I like to sleep and shower and eat.

So, I deleted my whole account. No, it was not a hasty decision but one I thought very carefully about. Of course, fb account deletion is not easy (why would it be?) and it takes 2 weeks before it is truly deleted, (if one believes that it is ever truly deleted).

Why I Went Back

I took a few weeks totally away from Facebook and survived (Gasp!). Then I went back to it and rejoined with a different email address and account. I have the timeline again, but with a fresh start. Now I know and expect that Facebook will indeed change their privacy settings. Previously I was ignorant. Now I know that they will… and I’m prepared for it.

Aside from having my website accounts there (AussieHomeschool, Kerugma and The DIY Bible Study) all of my children are on there. Now whilst I don’t need FB in order to keep in touch, (that’s what real life is for) I do like to keep abreast of security and privacy issues and scams so that I can inform them and guide them in using social media responsibly.

Where’s the Loyalty?

Hehee, as an aside, how safe can it be? Even Mark Zuckerberg’s private photo album was hacked and shared. If his private information isn’t safe on his own network, what makes me think that my information is? Facebook has been involved with some dubious practices before. Don’t take my word for it, do your own research.

What You Can Take From It

The Privacy/Tools page is where you can see how your profile looks to the public and see an example of what people see when they look for you using public search engines. Download a copy of everything you’ve put into Facebook, all in one, easy-to-browse file. Go here: facebook.com/about/privacy/tools and download your whole profile. Save it to your desktop. Unzip it. Open the files and browse them. Give it a go. What have you got to lose?