My husband is getting a divorce. From Facebook, that is.
Don used to run a yearly craft show, and he originally joined Facebook to keep in contact with other people associated with that event. He was careful to put his settings on the highest possible security.
Over time his Facebook account grew to include other events where we might be interested in selling our tankards. Consequently his Friends list was made up of only those people he knew, or associated with events in which he was interested. Over time he acquired 290 Friends. He frequently turned down Friends requests from people he didn’t know.
He also kept his personal and his professional lives totally separate. He never brought his home life onto Facebook.
But with the passage of time, he noticed some things that concerned and troubled him. The first thing was the fact that so much politics kept entering Facebook. Rather than chatting about business or upcoming events, people began to argue about politics. It was getting worse and worse – descending into name-calling, etc. – and the only way to stop it was to de-Friend someone. But of course this would negate the original purpose of getting on Facebook, i.e. business and friendly connections.
Then he learned that Facebook no longer simply archives what you said, and what you Liked and Disliked while you were on Facebook. It is now keeping track of where you travel throughout the internet, even if you’re logged off Facebook. Naturally Facebook claims it keeps that information confidential, but because of Facebook’s close association with advertisers and the federal government, that information was available to anyone with the right credentials - or even the wrong ones.
So that’s why he decided to get a divorce from Facebook.
But leaving Facebook isn't easy. Facebook doesn’t make it easy to leave. They have their tentacles around everything. He first did a search of the internet and came up with a process to leave Facebook, but according to this method, before you could request that Facebook close your account, you had to first manually de-Friend every Friend, remove every photo, every association, and every single comment you had ever posted.
So Don got on Facebook and posted a “goodbye” to everyone, and asked that they not be insulted when he de-Friended them; that this was just part of the process as he understood it.
A more computer-savvy friend told him he didn’t believe it was that complex, and sent him a link on how to close his Facebook account. Don used the link and requested that his account be closed. Facebook automatically responded with a statement that his account was now deactivated and would be closed after 14 days, IF he did not attempt to log on again. Understand that as far as Facebook is concerned, it’s not just Facebook you can’t get on; you can’t go to a website and automatically or accidentally hit the Facebook button on that website... or you’ll have to start the entire closure process again.
Don’s advice: make sure, if you take this route, you clear every cookie related to Facebook, every quick link and tab to Facebook, and every bookmark, because if you don’t, Facebook may continue to track you and/or stop your closure process.
Also, there isn’t any real evidence that Facebook destroys your account once you close it. If you read the FAQ’s, they weasel-word around the whole concept. But at least once you’ve finished closing the account, they technically are no longer tracking you. However, it's important to remember that while you’re in the deactivated state, if you still have cookies on your computer from Facebook, they can and will track you.
I can’t include the link Don’s friend sent him on how to close his account, because his friend sent it on Facebook, so if Don goes back in to try and retrieve the link, he’ll automatically be re-enrolled. (He says he should have copied it down.)
When Facebook first began, it was an excellent tool, especially if you’re in a crafting business like we are. And it was possible to protect your privacy to a great degree.
But Facebook seemingly has worked harder and harder to make it tougher and tougher for you to hide things like your phone number, your street address, and your email address. Don would constantly get notices from savvy friends on how he could find anyone’s number number “from this link,” etc., and there was no way to go in and stop it except through an extraordinarily convoluted process – and how many people want to go through all that effort? Or even pay attention to the the occasional warnings?
More important to Don, and what led to his growing dissatisfaction, was the fact that Facebook didn’t ask permission to make these changes, nor did it announce these changes. They simply made the changes, and the only ones who found out about it were those people who spend their time looking for such things. And if those people don’t happen to be one of your Friends, you’d never hear about it.
So Don is in the process of getting a divorce from Facebook. But unlike a "no-fault" divorce, Don thinks there's definitely been a breach of contract...or at least trust.