Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quitting Facebook without a 12 step plan

Two Toronto men formed a group called "QuitFacebook" and proclaimed this past Monday, QuitFacebook day. I think my sister summed it up best when she said "I'm not quitting facebook. How else will I keep tabs on my kids!"

Facebook currently has about 400 million users, and in spite of security issues being raised, people are becoming much more comfortable with the idea of living "public lives". They post pictures of private family functions and post display photos of embarrassing moments.

About 30,000 peoople said they would pledge "abstinence" from Facebook on Monday. However, without a suitable 12 step program, it's a difficult habit to break. Especially when your support group for quitting, are all on Facebook calling you back.

It would appear, Facebook has become the monster that won't die. At least until a better beast knocks it off its perch.

Below is the Canada Newswire article from Monday:

"Quit Facebook" was a trending topic on Twitter on Monday as tens of thousands of users claimed they were ready to abandon the popular social networking site over privacy concerns.

But plenty more of the site's more than 400 million users aren't going anywhere, even if they acknowledge the concerns being raised by the two Toronto men behind Quit Facebook Day.

Most of the "Quit Facebook" chatter on Twitter was about how users had no intention of participating in the campaign.

"It's Quit Facebook Day," tweeted the user ExpertParalegal. "Right. I'm not quitting coffee either."

"It might be 'Quit Facebook Day' but there's no way i'm quitting," wrote DanNSimms, "especially as I like seeing how fat everyone's got since they left school."

Co-creator Matthew Milan said he never expected the idea would go viral and put a dent in Facebook's membership numbers. But he feels the process was a success, since it got people talking about the site's privacy policies and the consequences of putting personal info online.

"I'm not really interested in getting people to quit every online service out there–I'm actually a very heavy consumer of social media myself–and I certainly don't think people should be hiding away in caves and not engaging," he said in an interview Monday, as the number of users pledging to opt-out of Facebook surpassed 30,000.

"I just think they should be asking for what they feel is fair and respectable from organizations they give their data to."

Among those who signed off for good was Johnny Hockin, a host and segment producer for MTV Canada. Or so he thought.

It turns out he made a common mistake and actually deactivated his account rather than deleting it. While the deactivate option is relatively easy to find in the account settings section, truly deleting an account is a bit trickier. The link to permanently remove an account from Facebook can be found in the help section of the site.

After realizing he only deactivated his account, Hockin said he would keep his Facebook profile in limbo for now, in case he changes his mind about going offline.

But he said it wasn't a rash decision to quit Facebook, and he'd been considering it for months.

"I've been getting more and more annoyed at Facebook and the fact that this event was here sort of pushed me over the edge, because I do support their cause," he said.

As for Milan, he happily deleted his account as planned and said he'll miss little about Facebook.

"I don't feel any pull to go back personally, but I realize that's not going to be what it's like for a lot of people."

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