Why I quit Facebook, and why you should, too.

If you pay any attention to tech news over the past month, you have no doubt noticed that Facebook and its byzantine privacy policies have gotten a lot of coverage – mostly bad. And deservedly so.

I actually covered the Facebook privacy settings (where if users had not customized their privacy settings before, the defaults for the new privacy screens set everything to public) on my now-defunct This Week in UX podcast. They have been practicing “usability for evil” for a while. They have changed their policy on privacy multiple times, and each time has done it to increase public visibility of what you put on the service.

One of the many obscure ways that Facebook works is that any app you use on the service gets information about not only you but also all your friends. And now they want to sell an “open graph” service to corporations so that they can sell your information to companies because they know everything you have ever posted or liked.

Facebook isn’t a social media network anymore – it’s a computer virus.

I’m not discussing or judging the content or usage patterns of Facebook – this is not about the merits of chat or Farmville. It’s about trust, and I don’t trust them with my information any more. Many tech pundits, such as Cory Doctorow and Leo Laporte, have formally deleted their accounts and I disabled my account two weeks ago. That was not enough though, because the data is still available to Facebook.

So I’ve deleted the account. Yes, Facebook has given me some wonderful opportunities to reconnect with old friends, and I appreciate it. But I just can’t support Facebook with my time and my eyeballs anymore. Facebook has publicly stating they are going to shift their privacy policy in response to their criticism, but for me it’s too little too late.

Privacy is important to me, and Facebook’s policy may not have an immediate affect on my life now, but I have zero confidence that it would not have a major impact in the future. So I’m out. And I suggest, if you are reading this, you do the same.

Or at the very least think long and hard about what you put there, because it may not be as private as you may think.

Joseph Dickerson is a user experience professional and UX Lead for Microsoft based out of Atlanta, GA. He has implemented processes in user testing, design and ethnographic research and provided design and consulting services for many different projects and organizations.

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