Friday, May 28, 2010

It is goodbye after all, Facebook.

I'm taking a class in professional ethics right now, and it was a fantastic opportunity to examine the constant conundrum of callous craziness conceived and created by Facebook. I posted earlier that I would come back if Facebook woke up and smelled the revolt.

Well, they responded to the privacy issue. Check out their blog for the official response if you care about such things. For me, it didn't ring with any conviction. It read like something drafted by a politician caught with a hand in the cookie jar. "I'm sorry you misunderstood my good intentions."

So I thought on this some more and did some writing for my class. I had said I would return to Facebook if they got the privacy issue resolved, and they did improve the situation. But then I realized - when the furor dies down and no one is looking, they can unimprove it in some as-of-now-not-yet-conceived way. They have done that before. I have no reason to doubt they will do it again. I don't see any signs of "oh - I see now" concern coming from Facebook. I see signs of "Hmmmm. Will this placate you for now?"

I could be dead wrong, of course. But the ethics class I'm in is circling around the intangibles of what makes an ethical decision. We have some structured thinking to work through in class, but a lot of it comes back to the "smell test." I just don't feel good about being engaged with this company. It makes me antsy. So I set loose the gerbils in my head to spin on their various wheels (Gerbil one - you take the Convenience wheel. Gerbil two - you get the Mass Adoption wheel. Gerbil three - run the Constructive Engagement wheel for a while...). I turned the wheels round and round. And the answer, like Dorothy's red shoes, was there all along.

This just *feels* wrong.

I don't trust them. I don't like not trusting them. I don't feel good about going back in to a service I don't feel good about. I'm meta-uncomfortable.

So, mea culpas aside and any temporary fixes that may be coming notwithstanding, I'm closing out. May 31 is Quit Facebook day, and I signed up to kill my accounts then. Facebook won't notice, and Facebook won't care. But I'll feel better, and gerbil seventy-two can take a rest from the Why Are We Doing This wheel.

Friday, May 14, 2010

So long, Facebook. Perhaps not goodbye.

For years, I have been among the devoted Facebook followers, asking my friends to join, posting irrelevant, and sometimes relevant, stuff there. Sharing photos, playing Scrabble - you name it. It was great.

All good things, apparently, must come to an end.

I won't go on and on about the horrible changes Facebook has made to their privacy settings and how they treat users. Persons interested in learning more can go to here for a great graphic of how this has changed since it all started. There's plenty of posts detailing the horror. No need to repeat. It is, after all, a link economy.

What I've struggled with is the question, do I need to participate in something I am ethically opposed to (appropriating information from users without choice) or can I live without the news stream, which is really the important part of Facebook for me. So, I tried it for a week.

Here I am, on the other side, alive.

I miss my friends' updates, but I am also convinced that it is better to make a conscious decision to keep in touch with them via web, Twitter, phone, email, IM and - heaven forbid - postal mail. I'm also convinced that either Facebook will wake up and smell the revolt, in which case I'll come back, or someone else will do it better and Facebook will become MySpace.

One of the contenders in the "doing it right" space is Diaspora. I love the name. They are working on a dedicated, privacy rich, open source social network movement. So are others, I'm sure. These folks aren't funding it with venture capital demanding a bazillion point return or an advertising based exit strategy. I don't mind viewing some ads to pay for a useful service, but c'mon - not allowing me to post profile information unless I make it public to the world? Thanks, but no thanks.

So, I'll keep my stripped-to-the-bone, personal FB profile in cryogenic suspension. It'll be there if things change and I come back. I'll keep my work account alive, but will similarly strip that down to just the things I need for work. In the meantime, I'll be watching and waiting for the inevitable Better Idea to replace the Zuckerberg craziness.