Sunday, January 29, 2012

Divorcing Facebook

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.


  1. I chose the road less traveled by not joining Facebook. It is 'Urban Revolution' here, but kids do have it. I think advertisers can get tracking info to help their bottom dollar.
    -K in OK <><

  2. The same thing is happening with google and you can't opt out of all the great features they are using to track you and sell your info.
    I don't blame google much but they are driving away the most savy users by this intrusive policy.
    I will move my Blog to wordpress and eliminate google as much as I can on the internet. I'll move it again if needed, but this really screws with the folks that have business and set sites.
    Perhaps if we don't play the game. We won't have to play theese games.

  3. I have never been involved with facebook and I don't understand the fascination with it. I believe we are tracked lots of other ways on computers, also. It is scary what strangers can find out about you without much digging at all. Don is smart to get out. I wish my girls weren't involved with it like they are. They are grown women, running their own households, so I have very little say. I think it will end up biting a lot of people in the behind down the road.

  4. I have been considering deleting my Facebook account, purely because it is such a popularity contest, it addicts you and you end up wasting a lot of your time on it, and I can't believe the things that people post (including myself - and I do try to watch myself but when I'm fired up off goes my rant!). The biggest trouble is that I do need it for my business, keeping customers informed of what event I am shooting next, and for them to let me know where they would like me to be. I don't think I can delete my personal account without deleting my page (if I can, and someone can let me know how, that would be great!) But yes, it seems to be encroaching on our security and privacy far too much these days.

  5. My biggest issue about quitting Facebook is that my young adult kids use it as a way to send me pics, etc. and keep me updated on what they are doing.

  6. I have used FB to find friends from High School, and to stay connected to family back home. Many folks just don't post very often. Can't you just stop posting??

    I know that is what I would do. Thanks for bring up this topic.

  7. Well that's disturbing! I have a Facebook account with nothing on it only because I was required to set one up to serve as an administrator for the page we maintain at the non-profit I work with.

    It's quite alarming to think that my personal information is being tracked, even with that little involvement!

    I'm already on several watch lists anyway, though, so I don't know why I bother even being annoyed over this new revelation. :0P

  8. I've never had a facebook account, and took "grief" from
    family and friends for it. I had a youtube login that I deactivated long ago, but noticed that when I went to youtube to view a video my gmail address showed up as though I'd signed into youtube. So now I make sure I'm not logged in when going there. I may have to close out my gmail account. ?? and not use google. but does that mean others aren't monitoring us too? Too many connections to our ever increasing government.

  9. I knew there was a reason I didn't want to be part of Facebook! I have resisted and wondered what all the fuss (excitement) is about. Facebook seems to take up way too much time that could be otherwise productively employed by both the young and old. Thanks for sharing this, I'll be passing it on to my children to show them WHY I think Facebook is a bad idea. Privacy is more important than all that connectedness, which can be accomplished in other less intrusive ways.

  10. Okay...I agree wholeheartedly! Get rid of it!

    Now what are you going to do about Google?
    The new One Policy becomes effective 3/1/12
    and effectively is changed to let you know...
    We will use your info, and NO we won't SELL it,
    we're using it and giving it away for FREE!

    Dear Google user,

    We're getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that's a lot shorter and easier to read. Our new policy covers multiple products and features, reflecting our desire to create one beautifully simple and intuitive experience across Google.

    From Google:
    We believe this stuff matters, so please take a few minutes to read our updated Privacy Policy and Terms of Service at googledotcom/policies. These changes will take effect on March 1, 2012.

    one big family of info sharing....transparency...
    even when you use the search engine...or enter onto ANY site that uses their features....which if they're sharing, is vast! All for Free! UGH!

  11. You're currently running programming for this site using
    multiple google products!

    Google Adsense
    Google ANALytics
    Google FriendConnect

    Everything that gets posted on your site, and anyone who has a friendconnect account, is being datamined, shared, and stored for later use.

    Take Heed!

    Nothing FREE, is truly free!

  12. From the Husband of the Boss.

    I surely understand the problems with Google as well. Unfortunately, they are even more ubiquitous than Facebook. Short of getting off the internet all together, I have to satisfy myself with concerns about Google privacy by not using their search engine (I use Ixquick, which doesn't record your IP address), and a Firefox addon which makes cookie removal very easy. It's pretty much hopeless in this day and age to avoid all tracking. It's a sign of our times - not that these companies do this, but that we all put up with it.

  13. I just ignore the politics. But it would make it difficult as a business.

    Wall Street Journal had a series of articles a little while ago on online privacy issues. Facebook and Google are very visible elements of the problem, but I am not sure that they are even the worst ones out there.

  14. I have been very tempted to get rid of Facebook as of lately. I got rid of Google Chrome due to issues I had with their privacy policy or lack thereof. Facebook is starting to give me the same concerns. This and being so connected to people is driving me crazy. People now expect you to be available 24/7 and I don't think that this is healthy. Certainly is giving me more to think about with having Facebook. Thanks!

  15. I use Firefox as my browser. On this browser, I use an app called Ghostery and it blocks the cookies

    Google Adsense
    Google ANALytics
    Google FriendConnect

    and many more.

    Check it out for yourself at:

  16. The European Union has passed legislation to force Facebook and Google to PERMANENTLY delete user account information due to these very issues. They are not required to do so here in America. :-( FB's overreach and the govt's inability to enforce any real privacy are of grave concern and should be for everyone. There's lots of great stuff about FB-- it's the only way that my deployed spouse and I can communicate effectively and exchange photos, etc with far flung family members-- but I am VERY afraid of ceding my personaly liberties to the FB devil to do it. :-(

  17. Great Info to know. Implemented Ghostery and Ixquick myself. Now to figure out a replacement for google stuff

  18. Not long ago you could delete your account as long as you did not reopen it. If you did all your stuff was there. But they had a way to contact them and have them take it all down. See wonder why they got rid of those options?

  19. I am glad to hear he left. I did so a few years ago, before all the privacy concerns got rampant. It is a pain to leave and obviously they do that on purpose. Really, more and more, I entertain divorcing Google. But that means my blog and email accounts...which of course is tricky.

    1. Until about three years ago I refused to even connect to the internet.

      I finally had to do it for our business, but we don't have a web page and certainly no Facebook.

      In fact, my only experience with FB was very costly....cost me my first computer, in fact.

      I got a message from someone I loved, who'd been at death's door and was not expected to recover. It was a twelve year old girl, asking me to visit her FB page and in my joy and surprise I clicked, thinking it would be safe since I didn't intend to join, sign in or do anything but look to see the good news about the little girl.

      Unfortunately it was a bogus message and my computer's security program was de-activated by the perps, who also loaded me up with multiple trojans and more. It was a mess...and all from a single click.

      I could count on one hand the number of financial transactions I've made online. I buy my security program that way and do business with one entity from time to time, but no paying bills or automatic account transactions.

      I think the internet is a wonderful thing in many respects, but its risks and burdens will, I think, prove to outweigh its benefits in the end.

      A. McSp

  20. I deactivated my FB account last year after the POTUS held his fundraiser at FB headquarters and Zuckerberg was all over his favorite swine (Wilbur). I had to do some searching but did find very hidden the same stuff that Don is using and then was very careful not to hit anything related to FB.
    As far as Google. I try not to search while logged in to my account. I have a blog, but it is not on the searches, it is just so my family and friends can stay updated. I did join a couple of blogs, yours and Enola's. I use Firefox browser and Yippy search. They have a browser which I have but I could not get used to it.
    We just have to be cautious in what we do and clear cookies frequently. That is why is always post as "anonymous" and sign off as. Paintedmoose

  21. Thank you for all the good conversation and suggestions. I loaded up Firefox and Ghostery last night (and am very happy with both) am debating relocating my own blog to WordPress - or, I suppose, even paying the registration fee and getting my own address.

    I've also been more and more troubled with Facebook of late. It's getting ugly. I don't typically discuss politics usually because it's not as if such conversations change anyone's mind; the fact I have it thrown in my face blatant and sarcastically does not really add to my day.

  22. I disconnected from Face Book a year ago. Its not easy, every few days I would get a message saying I contacted someone on FB, which of course keeps the acct open. I reopened a FB account recently. I am careful of who I allow on there, but my concern with Google's intrusiveness is growing. From cell phones, cable TV, and the internet, gathering information is the real money maker these days.

  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.