May 31 is Quit Facebook Day

May 31, 2010 is quit Facebook day. Facebook has been slammed in the technical and mainstream media for overly-complicated privacy controls. Some of the more cynical critics claim they were purposely designed to share a person’s details without them realizing.

Facebook’s privacy policy has 50 different settings, 170 different options and contains almost 6,000 words — it’s longer than the US Constitution! Facebook argue that multiple options are required to give a user full control over their privacy settings, but they are introducing a simplified page with 15 options. However, the company has stopped short of making all personal information visible to just friends by default.

A new campaign and website has been launched to warn users about the privacy issues. QuitFacebookDay.com claims:

For us it comes down to two things: fair choices and best intentions. In our view, Facebook doesn’t do a good job in either department. Facebook gives you choices about how to manage your data, but they aren’t fair choices, and while the onus is on the individual to manage these choices, Facebook makes it damn difficult for the average user to understand or manage this. We also don’t think Facebook has much respect for you or your data, especially in the context of the future.

For a lot of people, quitting Facebook revolves around privacy. This is a legitimate concern, but we also think the privacy issue is just the symptom of a larger set of issues. The cumulative effects of what Facebook does now will not play out well in the future, and we care deeply about the future of the web as an open, safe and human place. We just can’t see Facebook’s current direction being aligned with any positive future for the web, so we’re leaving.

You can sign up to express your opinion of Facebook and receive a reminder to delete your details.

Facebook Fight or Failure?

At the time of writing, QuitFacebookDay.com has a little under 25,000 sign-ups. Assuming every one of those people quits, the protest has attracted just 0.006% of Facebook’s 400 million users.

To many people, Facebook is the internet. QuitFacebookDay.com claims you could move to sites such as Twitter, Flickr, Orkut, and the yet-to-be-released Diaspora project. Perhaps these are viable alternatives — but could you persuade all your friends to adopt them too?

I not a Facebook fan. I begrudgingly use it, but won’t quit because several friends and colleagues prefer its messaging facilities over email or other forms of online communication.

People should understand that Facebook is a social website sitting on top of a publicly accessible network. Whether the privacy policies are dubious or not doesn’t matter: you should assume that all your information has the potential to be made public. Someone, somewhere will always be able to access your data.

Finance companies are already considering charging a home insurance premium to people who use social networks. Many systems allow you to enter your full address then alert followers with your current location … it’s an open invitation for burglars!

The simple rule is this: if you don’t want your personal information made public, don’t post it on the web. That’s especially true for sites where data sharing is an integral part of the system.

Free book: Jump Start HTML5 Basics

Grab a free copy of one our latest ebooks! Packed with hints and tips on HTML5's most powerful new features.

  • Guilherme Zühlke O’Connor

    I agree this protest is disproportionate in the sense that, rather than just chiding not to use facebook, there is an implied attitude of trying to harm and, ultimately shut down, the implication than facebook shouldn’t have a place on the web is silly at best.

    I don’t like facebook myself and I tend to keep my data to a minimum but it’s also silly the idea that you should expect all your data to be shared at some point. While the risk exists indeed and prudence is always good advice, very few people I know can manage to stay out of the dangers of the web while taking advantage of it.

    A good example is your credit card. I wish I never had to use it online and I think I was one of the latest among my friends to shop online but at some point became standard and it’s difficult to not doing it al all.

    Further, your card has been associated with offline accounts of companies that have e-commerce sites and your card may be at potential risk on the web without your action. So is your address, name and date of birth.

    Think for instance, your account for a fidelity card on your local supermarket. With added details of your shopping habits. This information is likely to be at potential risk on the web even if you never used their website.

    So, in short, I agree there is a potential risk of sharing data and people should be aware of these before sharing personal details right, left and centre but chosing not to share data at all is hardly an option this days and just silently conform with the web being an untrustworthy and dangerous place is not a good way to go.

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      That’s an interesting point about credit cards.

      However, a single credit card number does not grant people access to photos of your kids, your job aspirations, or where you went on holiday.

      In addition, credit card companies are liable if a shop revealed your account details and you lost money. They therefore ensure shops have strict security measures in place. That can fail, but online shops are generally safer because it’s rare for a human to be involved in the transaction process (unlike paying at a restaurant or gas station).

  • Henrik Blunck

    It all boils down to this: As you said, don’t post anything on the internet if you don’t want to share it. Facebook is no exception…

    Quitting Facebook would be silly. Regardless of whether one likes or dislikes Facebook, it’s a big network with lots of possibilities.

    I have already written two relevant articles on the subject of social media:
    1. Twitter Success Stories – Making Money Through Social Media – http://ezinearticles.com/?Twitter-Success-Stories—Making-Money-Through-Social-Media&id=4266760
    2. What Makes Twitter Better Than Facebook – http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Makes-Twitter-Better-Than-Facebook&id=4368109

    What I recommend is that people use both networks as they should be used, but quitting Facebook is like saying goodbye to lots of friends. I have many friends IRL who have adopted Facebook as their main media. Even though I personally prefer a “real” e-mail instead of messages through Facebook, I do recognize other people’s choices.

    Being a social person in the 21st century involves making changes in systems instead of threatening to quit just because someone doesn’t like any particular in a system like Facebook.

    My 0.02$ anyway. Thanks for a thought-provoking article. :-)

  • boltronics

    I’ve never signed up to Facebook. Took one look at their terms and conditions (I do usually skim through them), and thought to myself that it was just insane. That was probably a year or so ago.

    The trick is to not start using things you don’t want to use.

    I don’t have a car. I made a conscious decision to avoid purchasing one because of environmental and cost factors. People sometimes ask how I can live without one, but it’s so easy when you’ve never needed to rely on one. You actively look for alternatives and get used to them. You find ways to make it work.

    Same deal with people that use the Windows OS – if they were used to the programs GNU/Linux (for example) provides so it worked for them, why would they pay for a costly OS with DRM and other nasty licensing restrictions? They would become familiar with its limitations (buy hardware that is known to work, etc.) and be fine. Instead many people may never make the leap despite wanting to because they would feel limited and constrained by a lack of knowledge regarding alternatives, and the considerable loss of money and time invested in their existing solution.

    People have asked me to sign up to Skype. It costs nothing to call another Skype user, right? But the client is proprietary and the service cannot be provided by a third party; as an end user I have basically no control. In the future the service might have features removed, be terminated, or the company may just decide to charge for everything. As such, I simply won’t touch it. It’s as simple as that.

  • Tatsh

    I honestly am not a huge fan of social networking because I like my privacy. I’ve already deleted my account on FB once, but came back because a few people refuse to use anything else to communicate (like AIM, why I don’t know). Others want to communicate with Twitter only at this point or Buzz etc.

    AIM might be from the 90′s but it still works REALLY well and is extremely reliable. You don’t need to be on a browser to use it. Same goes for MSN (still popular in UK and many other countries), and Yahoo chat is huge is Japan still. And of course, there is e-mail, which everyone has. Is that going away any time soon? I don’t think so.

    But Facebook has one thing: marketing, free and non-free. If it wasn’t for Facebook, I’m not sure where traffic would come from. Facebook is 2nd after Google searches for this site. If you want it for free, just join discussions and give URLs. They have rel=nofollow on them but it doesn’t matter at this point it seems. Otherwise, join the (not so fun to deal with) advertising programme. Hits skyrocketted after doing both. However, now I stick with free. And this goes for all social networking.

    Don’t quit Facebook. Use it to make money until the next Facebook comes (maybe that will be Google Buzz, so embrace that NOW).

  • http://www.jasonbatten.com NetNerd85

    I already had my account deleted weeks ago (at least they said it was deleted, they probably have a different idea of deleted). It provided me no additional value than what email or mobile phones currently do.

  • FormerGenius

    “I begrudgingly use it, but won’t quit because several friends. . .prefer it’s [sic] messaging facilities over email or other forms of online communication.”
    If they were true friends they would respect your wariness of Facebook and communicate with you on your terms.
    I am not a member of Facebook or any other “social networking” site. I would never post my personal details or discuss my private life anywhere on the web. I post to forums anonymously or via pseudonyms. Facebook is a lair of narcissists, love-cheats, and amateur exhibitionists who want their fifteen minutes of fame to be extended to 24/7. Take a look at Lamebook and sample some of the excruciatingly embarrassing content that is posted on Facebook. Do these people realise that what it is posted online is in effect in the public domain for the rest of their lives?
    I don’t care if 400 million people have joined it. People can collectively display appallingly bad judgement: what is fashionable is often idiotic.

  • GuitarMantra

    Yes Facebook is really bad. My problem with FB is very unusual and unbelievable. Few months back facebook transfered my username to another guy in NY originally from India. That person was asking me to change my uisername so that he could register iwith my Username and he was offering to pay me but i didn’t. But after sometimes I received notification from Facebook that my username has been changed. Later I found that guy is using my AFB username now. I think Facebook sold it to him. FB is really ban n should be banned and the owner need to be prisoned whole life.

    I still have emails from that guy offering to pay me. FB is really a bad social site. Everyone should quit. other sites like twitter , myspace, mix are too good.

  • Matt

    Personally I think it is a great idea, but I think the date chosen to quit facebook is terrible. They should of let it play out more, meaning have the news of quitfacebook day build up first. Maybe make June 11th quit facebook day. Choosing memorial weekend when most people are on vacation and could careless about their social media status.

    I am also quite positive facebook could careless, it has grown so big that it has essentially engulfed the social media standard. They know people are going to quit because of privacy policy issues. It is simply a pin prick to facebook. However, I do commend and even hope that quitefacebook.com gains more of a following. The privacy policy on FB is appalling.

  • http://randomwisdom.tumblr.com pbaarn

    Facebook should have an option to ONLY share information with friends and I think they have made that easier now with the new controls. I accept that they use my information to tailor advertising to me, but that’s as far as it goes.

  • lostinmusic

    If people have a problem with Facebook’s terms, or any other site’s terms, then don’t sign up. Nobody is forcing anyone to sign up. I have and don’t have any issue with their terms, simply because I know what and what not to post. Facebook is about sharing, and that is evident from the moment you sign up. If you don’t want to share, move on – it’s really that simple and everyone needs to learn it. If you don’t want to take the time to read the terms, then that’s your problem, not Facebook’s. It’s just another sign of laziness and another sign that everyone seems to be babysat through every aspect of their life.
    @FormerGenius: “I post to forums anonymously or via pseudonyms.” – Here is Canada that is no longer a safe option, as the courts have ruled in favour of forcing a forums owner and ISP to hand over the details of anonymous accounts in a forum of users who were slanderous to other members of the forum. Therefore, there is no hiding under the net of the Internet, at least in Canada anyway.

  • AB

    I have been a facebook member for the past four years. I have seen facebook change their setting in many different forms, but really they have not changed at all. Just a different format for the same settings. The biggest facebook setting mistake lately, was not being able to hide your friends list. Facebook is not your social buddy. They are in the business to make money which comes in the form of advertisement and promotion of their site. The advertisers like facebook when 400 million people all have 5,000 friends. The advertisment on your page is geared to your personal settings. With the vaniety of some users wanting to have 5,000 fb friends, this was made easy to send friends request to everyone on my friends list when I concider my friends a personal part of my page. I think they have changed that setting back to the orginial setting of being able to hide your friends list. Facebook can and does track you movements. When you wish to close your account, your page is only deactivated, never deleted. Your account will always be there when or if you decide to come back. It is never deleted.. I have had at least 15 different pages and when closing a account, delete everyone on my page including groups and fan pages, mail etc. which takes time with 5,000 friends, groups and fan pages. I never set-up a page with my real name or information. I am still leary of posting a photo of myself. I try not to give any information I don’t want to be made public or viewed by others because I know that’s exactally where it will go. Communication has its good points, but over all, a lot of time is wasted on facebook, myspace and the internet in gerneral. If you want to be ‘Look at Me’ in the mainstream, this is the perfect place for it. Otherwise if I want to talk to a personal friend, I’ll pick up the phone and call them. Don’t delete your page. Send facebook your ideas of how to make it a better place to socialize with better and eaiser privacy settings for the average user.. Keep in mind facebook is in the business to make money, not to give you a better social experience.. Have a great day!

  • Anonymous

    yes no fb any more

  • webnician

    Way I see it,…
    1) These Internet “rebels without a cause” are always latching onto issues to stand for or against;
    2) Most of these faux issues are, ironically, created by spammers to gather a loyal following of members who willfully hand over the same credentials they think they’re protecting;
    3) You can remove personal information from your account without deactivating the whole thing;
    4) The 3-1/2 people who actually go through with this won’t have any affect on the billion-dollar corporation.

  • JHig310336

    I an a fan of social networks, though not a fan of Facebook. At the same time, I don’t understant this May 31 boycott. If users want not to use FB, then do so. You don’t need an organized date to cancel FB, just do it. It just seems that all of this is a publicity stunt, get someone’s name in the news May 31.

  • Anonymous

    People just need to stop being idiots and actually pay attention to their privacy controls.
    1. Make everything private
    2. No one can see you/search for you
    3. ?????
    4. profit

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Is there much point using social networking if everything is private?!!

      I don’t particularly care if others know that I’m reading a particular book, doing a certain type of work, or thinking about going on holiday. However, I don’t necessarily want people to know that my inside leg measurement is 32″…

      Damn!

      • Anonymous

        I don’t care what book you’re reading or that your inside leg measurement is 32″.

        The definition of “Social Networking” means different things to different people. Some people like being able to post pictures and what they’re doing with Facebook with a close circle of friends – thus the reason for keeping their network private to their friends.

        Email and IM is not the same as Facebook. Facebook offers much more.

        As for those people quitting Facebook… just leave already. I’m tired of hearing all of these people whining about Facebook and trying to make themselves part of the story. If you don’t like it, leave. No need to wait.

  • heather

    Been meaning to deactivate my account for ages and your article has just given me a nudge in the right direction! Bye bye facebook and all my “friends”.

  • Daniel Pinto

    Well, nobody is obliged to use Facebook, so this conversation is totally unnecessary so if you’re sik of Facebook’s lack of respect for your data, simply quit, don’t make it a “global problem”.

    I just got tired of this kind of content in web. It is an useless point do discuss.

    • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

      Apart from the problem that it’s actually quite difficult to quit Facebook and ensure all your data’s been erased.

  • hairybob

    Yes… it’s time to quit the drivel that is facebook. The site is nothing but an annoying waste of time. Give it the big flick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    How’s it feel to be part of a teeny tiny minority? 0.00637%?

    Quit Facebook Day A Bust
    http://www.informationweek.com/news/storage/data_protection/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=225200699

  • Anonymous

    Facebook has evolved so much that it is no longer just a social network among friends to share photos and life stories. The lines among personal friends, family, co-workers and business partners are blurred as more and more people are getting onto Facebook and craves for communication with each other. Therefore, sharing private information becomes a voluntary act for everybody, I believe we could almost assume people love to share the level of information they put on social networks.

    Today, a lot of businesses are using Facebook to communicate with their customers, partners, prospects, etc. I’ve come across a very interesting article from a B2B marketer regarding his preference in sharing private information on social network: http://www.christopherakoch.com/2010/05/how-to-manage-lead-qualification/. The most important point he made is that it is the interaction that matters more than the information you know about the other person. I think companies should be smarter about communicating with their audience instead of bombarding them with one-way messages that users are not related to.

  • http://www.lunadesign.org awasson

    Yeah, let’s all quit Facebook! Nobody told me that it was a social networking site when I signed up dammit (except they did if you were awake when you signed up)… And I am really important so I’m sure someone is looking at my (boring) vacation pictures right now, even though I have set my privacy settings set to only my friends…

    GuitarMantra has had described a unique but super bad experience with them but I haven’t heard of anything else that comes close to it. It’s a social networking site so use it as that. Play some games, keep up with old friends and don’t take it or yourselves so seriously.

    I think your last and third to last paragraphs nail it Craig. If you want to have some privacy, then don’t post your info on the web. I find it amusing that people have the time to start a movement to quit Facebook and they can actually gathered a following. That is mind numbing.

  • http://www.brothercake.com/ brothercake

    People who design things to be foolproof usually underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.