Tomorrow, May 31, disgruntled Facebook users will participate in the Quit Facebook Day movement. Impetus for the Quit Facebook Day movement comes from concerns over the social network’s privacy policies (or lack thereof).
As the Quit Facebook Day site points out, it is possible to control who sees your information. Yet “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.”
Quit Facebook Day movement: Legitimate Concerns
Although Mark Zuckerberg claims to care about privacy, developments over the years suggest otherwise. I joined Facebook in 2005 when it was limited to a small pool of students and alumni, long before the site became cool.
Privacy was never an issue back then because there were no news feeds, mini feeds, third party applications, ad sponsors, or even “networks.” All we had was a basic profile, place for photos (which only friends could see by default), poking, and private messaging.
Now, your profile is automatically set to provide information not only to other users, but also to third parties by default. Those who are new to social networking may not realize that you have to manually change your settings. When Facebook started in 2004, privacy was the default setting. Now, sharing is not only encouraged, but it’s also the default.
Quit Facebook Day movement: The New Myspace
The irony is that after Facebook “opened” to allow more people to join, disgruntled Myspace users flocked over to Facebook in droves. Myspace users had complained about privacy and the potential for stalkers or cyber-bullies. Now we have come full circle because a site that was supposed to be the anti-Myspace has become the new Myspace. It’s Animal Farm all over again.
Quit Facebook Day movement: Short Attention Spans and Indifference
While concerns over privacy are certainly legitimate, one has to wonder if this movement will actually gain momentum. Will short attention spans and the addictive qualities of Facebook lure people back? Will users decide that the benefits (such as reconnecting with old friends and family) outweigh the privacy issues?
A writer at PC World points out, only 0.006 percent of users (around 24,000) have openly committed themselves to the Quit Facebook Day movement.
Every time Facebook makes changes, there is always initial outcry. When Facebook added the news feed and later changed the layout, users joined numerous protest groups (ironically on Facebook), but eventually moved on. And I’ve seen friends announce on their news feeds that they were quitting Facebook only to show up again days later.
Quit Facebook Day movement: On the Other Hand
On the other hand, one can’t underestimate the Quit Facebook Day movement. Most people who actually leave Facebook are not going to sign a petition on some anonymous website. They just leave. And there are likely many users who have considered or would consider leaving, but are still on the fence.
I certainly fall into the category of the being ‘on the fence.’ While there are aspects of Facebook that I don’t like (including privacy, procrastination, and the idea of a computer replacing live social interaction). While I would love to deactivate my account for good tomorrow, quitting would not be a realistic option for me right now.
I’ve had people from college and high school who have reconnected with me through Facebook. I also have friends from other parts of the world, and without the accessibility of this social networking site, it would be very difficult to stay in touch.
For now, I’ve adopted a middle ground approach, keeping my account active but gradually removing information and limiting my posts.
Quit Facebook Day
More Reasons Why You Should Quit Facebook, Gizmodo
‘Quit Facebook Day’ Looks Like a Hard Sell, PC World