tl;dr I’m getting off Facebook. Scroll to the bottom for other ways to reach me.
In four days, I will be deleting my Facebook as part of my year-long journey in taking back what little digital privacy I still can. As with all privacy and security related topics for my New Year’s resolution, there has to be a blog post about it so that people can follow along on their own journey.
Why Leave Facebook
It took a bit of thinking about, but in the end I decided that there was really no reason for me to keep Facebook anymore. Most of my friends that I regularly speak with do so through text or Discord (even though Discord has its host of privacy issues). The only thing Facebook really offered me was a way to see what people I knew from high school or college were up to nowadays. Even then, it did a poor job of it, and I just ended up connected with most people on LinkedIn anyways. All Facebook became was a place to distract myself from productivity, something that is done intentionally through design features like infinite scrolling.
Another reason I am leaving Facebook is how politicised so many conversations on it are. While I have nothing against people having differing views from me, but I often found myself fact checking people even though I knew full well that people don’t listen to facts anymore. Even if I could ignore every political meme post, it’s hard to ignore all the ads that Facebook likes to insert into your timeline. Numerous public figures have also left Facebook due to how they handle political ads, like Stephen King and Mark Hamill. Facebook has stated that they are okay with “microtargeted, false political ads”, choosing to allow its users to decide what is true and false.
Personal distractions and seeing my high school friends’ political posts aside, leaving Facebook was also a privacy-minded decision. While I won’t get into too much detail regarding why companies like Facebook and Google are the enemy of privacy and our digital rights, I will leave a few example articles. Firstlly, Facebook has tried (and failed) to get lawmakers to side with them on their privacy practices, such as tracking user locations 24/7. Not only are they trying to track all their users, Facebook in the past have tried to ask for verification selfies for facial recognition. Combine the two things, and we have the plot of 1984 in the works.
Secondly, in 2017, it was found that 7 in 10 mobile apps shared data to companies like Facebook. While there is nothing inherently wrong with an app sharing data, it is concerning how much that increases Facebook’s reach. Ever wondered how Facebook is able to suggest to you ads based off a conversation you had on a completely different app? Well, there’s your answer. For some people, they couldn’t care less if Facebook is suggesting ads the second you say something in a real-life conversation. For me, I can do without.
What I’ve Been Doing to Prepare
The first thing I did was request a data download of my Facebook account. This turned out to be a 10.3 GB ZIP archive with all of my past Facebook Messenger conversations, photos, comments, etc. While they didn’t include every single meme that I’ve sent through a Messenger conversation, this was sufficient enough for me in case I wanted to take a trip down memory lane or something. I requested my data as HTML files, by the way.
The second thing I did was reach out to basically anyone that I’ve messaged recently on Messenger and ask for their phone number. I’m still in that part of the process, but hopefully that way I have a way to stay in contact with anyone that I’ve been talking to over Messenger. Also surprise, a lot of the people I’m Facebook friends with I already had in my contacts.
The final thing I did was look into alternative social media platforms. For now, I’ve decided to be on Twitter and Mastodon with the two accounts cross-posting to each other. The two platforms do the same thing, allowing me to post short blurbs whenever I feel like sharing to the world something (tweets in the case of Twitter and toots in the case of Mastodon). As the two are cross-linked, I can stay primarily on Mastodon and allow my friends who haven’t hopped on the privacy train to continue seeing my 150 character updates. If Mastodon ever becomes more popular, I’ll definitely delete my Twitter though (which is possible since some public figures, like Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon, have Mastodon accounts).
How to Contact Me
You can always just check in on my blog occasionally, but you can also reach out to me in the following ways.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Snapchat: omn0mn0m
- Steam: https://steamcommunity.com/id/omn0mn0m
- Matrix/Riot.im: @omn0mn0m:matrix.org
- Discord: omn0mn0m#5544
- Mixer: https://mixer.com/omn0mn0m