With all the privacy missteps that Facebook has taken of late, I decided to deactivate my account just to see what it would be like. I took this step knowing full well that Facebook lets you reactivate your account as if you never left, simply by logging in again. (Is this a feature or another indication that Facebook is doing whatever it can to hold onto your data?) Within just a few hours after I deactivated, an old friend from high school emailed me that he'd just uploaded lots of pictures from our teenage years and was sad that he couldn't tag me on them. Another friend then saw these pictures, also noticed I'd gone missing, and proceed to start a public Facebook group called "Jamie quit Facebook??? WTF, that sucks!!! BOO!"
Over the course of the evening, 10 people joined the group and left various comments like, "Quitters never win," "waah, i want pwivacy!," and "It's not like he didn't give us all plenty of warning and reasons." I enjoyed watching this and relishing in the irony that I could view this completely public page even though my account wasn't active.
Several days later when I reactivated my account, I was glad to see that (a) all of the information in my profile had been wiped clean; (b) my friends list was still intact; and (c) all of my privacy settings were unchanged.
Some people would think that (a) would be an inconvenience but I welcomed it, because in reinstating my Facebook account I have come back with a new attitude. Instead of seeing Facebook as a protected space where I can share semi-private information with a self-selected group of friends, I now see it more like Twitter (and more like the Internet as a whole): a completely public space where you need to be careful about what you do and say and actively monitor and manage what others do and say about you.
Ultimately I reactivated because I need to. I work in technology and I have to keep abreast of what's going on in that space. Facebook also drives a good amount of traffic to this blog, which I was sad to see disappear. Right here, right now, Facebook is just too powerful a force to opt-out of.
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