My buddy Erik recently mentioned on Facebook that he was thinking about quitting the service and concentrating more on his blog and website. Like many things that Erik says (we tend to think alike), I could easily see where he was coming from on this thought process. After all, I have pondered the thought of giving up Facebook as well for a couple of reasons, but I’ve never gone through with actually deleting my account.
I’ve written before about my frustration with everyone writing is short blurbs these days. Corporate emails from people higher up the food chain contain little nuggets like “LOL”. The intrusion of Instant Messaging in the workplace has nullified many social norms, such as well thought out, professional communication. The biggest thing about Facebook and it’s arch enemy, Google+ is that all of their revenue is made via advertising. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you are not the customer on Facebook, you are the product. All that data gets shipped off to folks that want to advertise and all that data is provided so that ads can target you. As a person that used to write ad copy for a living (way back in the day), I have to tell you that that kind of sucks. I hate advertising and if there’s any way that I can buy a service instead of using an ad supported service, I’m going to make the purchase.
The one thing about Facebook that appeals to me is that it has connected me with many people. The other night I chatted with my former college roommate and friend. We haven’t seen each other since 1987. Earl and I have met quite a few people in person that we have met online and we are looking forward to doing more of the same in 2013. Facebook provides an excellent way to keep in touch with family that is flung both near and far. I have no issue with the service itself, it’s the data mining and the advertising connection that bugs the crap out of me. That’s one of the reasons I wiped out my Instagram account and started from scratch during the whole “we didn’t really say we were going to sell your pics to ad agencies” Instagram mess a couple of weeks ago.
When I try to give up Facebook the attempt is usually short-lived. Google+ is easy to ignore, there’s hardly anyone there that I know. Twitter doesn’t work the same; I can write all sorts of nonsense on there and god knows who will read it but I use that service with that in mind. But Facebook provides the easiest way to share photos from our vacations or to see what old high school buddies are up to. So it’s a balancing act of sharing what we want to share while weighing the ever present “don’t put it online unless you wouldn’t mind it on the front page of the New York Times” mantra.
I am willing to bet that Facebook could make a ton of cash if they offered a premium, paid service to their users. For example, sign up at $10 a month and we won’t share your data with anyone and we’ll give you privacy setting options that reinforce that fact. I think a lot of people would be willing to jump on that ship, especially since Facebook is starting to be the AOL from the 1990s, what people this is “the Internet” (but without the floppy disk shoved in everything from dish detergent to magazines).
So for now I’ll cautiously continue to use Facebook. And I’ll share my stuff knowing what I’m sharing and with whom I am sharing it (unlike Randi Zuckerberg).