For a while, I would go to my FB page, check to see what all my racist / homophobic / politically-dense friends and relatives would be saying. Usually it was image macro forwards. Or some people just wouldn’t have a filter at all. I would feel like some people were leaving their window shades open. It’s the same way on other social networks, except that FB doesn’t give you much of a choice of what you see. Twitter and G+ are utterly customizable. I was beginning to mosey more towards their direction.
Over the weekend, Facebook threw its “Graph Search” at me. It’s a new feature that allows anyone to use plain English sentences to search for specific things within their friends list. For instance, if one of my friends searched for “Who are my loser friends?”, I would pop to the top of the list. I would show up in anything that I was tagged in, anything I had commented on, anything I liked, etc…
Check it out. It’s actually pretty nifty.
And it’s why I’m probably going to be leaving Facebook.
It was pretty simple to forget that FB has an enormous amount of information about you. It was not often in the front of my mind that my information was being distributed and sold to whoever wanted to pay for it. “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” Then when Graph Search was launched, I was going to have that permanent reminder. On top of that, all of my friends and even non-friends would be able to do similar things as the entities that pay for my data. I could be searched, parsed, labeled, and pretty much have my privacy (such as it is) stomped on because of this service.
I know it doesn’t bother some people, and I even understand not being bothered by it. Facebook only knows what you tell it, and lots of people are good at limiting stuff like that (while others lay themselves open like a frog on a pinboard). There are so many apps and pages and doo-dads online that link with Facebook (and gives FB tons of data while doing so), that they’ve become almost invisible. It becomes difficult at that point to separate FB with the rest of your online life. If you have FB app on your phone, it knows where you are and where you’ve been.
The simplest thing is to not have Facebook.
I’m not doing this to eliminate being a product. I don’t think there’s any way to do that. It’s a rare person who has gotten by without checking in with the behemoth named Google. I’ve always used Google, and they know everything about me. I’m deeply integrated with them. I can’t say there isn’t a cause for concern. I’m aware of the implications. But, on the other hand, Google offers me a service that’s supremely useful. I use it all the time. I have my YouTube channel, I do searches all the damn time with Google, and so I feel like I’m not going overboard by using Google+.
And Twitter is where I spaz and talk to my friends. Not sure how much they know about me, but I haven’t told them anything useful.
Am I doing the right thing? I’m not sure. I just know that when I finally delete my Facebook account, it will feel like I’ve dropped a heavy weight. It’s sometimes difficult work to go on FB to endure the shallow debates that typically resemble people with fingers in their ears, screaming into the void. I’d rather see interesting content or have friendly conversations (the majority of G+ and Twitter) than sink in the muck of FB.
Maybe I’m just being a dumb hipster. Who cares.