The response to the Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook was huge, although not without objections or doubts. Here are the some definitive answers from Dan Yoder that you should share on your Facebook walls...before disabling your account.
It's no exaggeration to say I've been overwhelmed by the response to my post on why you should quit Facebook.
To those of you who shared your stories about leaving, or took the time to clarify some of the reasons for doing so, thank you. Apparently, I was hardly alone in making the decision to quit, or at least seriously considering it. It has been nothing short of inspiring to read your comments and realize how many of you cared enough to take action, whether it was actually deleting your account or simply taking the time to share your thoughts.
I thought I'd try to respond to some of the more common objections:
Tens of millions of people provided personal information to Facebook with the understanding that this information was being shared only within their social network. Then Facebook changed the rules and this information was unexpectedly shared with perfect strangers. That is, simply stated, a profound invasion of privacy. In the United States, the Fourth and Ninth Amendments to the Constitution, along with numerous landmark Supreme Court cases, have established privacy as a fundamental right.
Consider the example of the government tapping your phones. You conduct phone conversations thinking that they're just between you and the person you're speaking with. The government can't tap your phone and listen in on the conversation without a warrant. This is because your privacy is a right protected by law.
I haven't even touched on the various reasons people might want to keep these conversations private. They range from the profound, like avoiding workplace discrimination, protecting political dissidents or avoiding an abusive husband, to the banal, like cheating on your wife. But it really doesn't matter. It is not for any of us to decide on behalf of someone else what information should be considered private.
Most people just want control over what they're sharing and with whom. They have a right to make that choice. And many Facebook members did make that choice, only to find that, after the fact, Facebook made a different choice on their behalf. In the telecom industry, that's illegal. Yet in the social networking space, where far more information is being shared, it's not a big deal?
Just don't share your personal information. Or, if you do, don't use any applications and learn to use the privacy settings.
Maybe that works for you, you fabulous geek, you. But are all of your family and friends as clever as you are? What are the odds that the majority of Facebook members will do these things?
Uh, okay. Somewhere between not sharing personal information and actually using fake data, we cross a line into "what's the point?"
That's true. Of course, that's true for any social network with a critical mass of people on it. But it's a circular justification. Once people switch to another network, it's useless for marketing.
This is a tough one. I wrote my original post for exactly this reason - to try and convince them to leave. I felt that by continuing to use Facebook, I was passively endorsing it.
I am not aware of any good solutions for privacy in social media. Facebook has expressly moved away from providing one. But there are plenty of good opt-out solutions. Twitter works fine for status updates. For photos, we've had Flickr for years. For video, YouTube. For link sharing, Digg. I've picked these because they are all independent companies, but there are dozens of solutions for sharing social media.
The nice thing about decentralizing control over your data is that you aren't at the mercy of any one company. In fact, you could make a pretty good argument that the Web itself is the real social network.
Click to viewI'm not trying Mr.Zuckerberg in court, I'm selecting a service provider. The burden of proof is on Facebook here. If the head of a major bank is accused of embezzling or a teacher is accused of molesting a student, they're usually summarily fired. They may have been entirely innocent, but the standard for holding a position of responsibility is much higher than that for simply not going to jail. Mr.Zuckerberg has been accused of reading people's private emails, and he runs a social networking company. Also, keep in mind, Facebook also settled out of court in a related case for a significant sum of money, lending some weight to the allegations. If Facebook and Mr.Zuckerberg wanted to clearly establish their innocence, they could have chosen not to settle out of court.
Dan Yoder is a serial entrepreneur and the VP of Engineering at Border Stylo, a Hollywood-based social media startup. He can be reached on Twitter as @dyoder.
Disclosure by Dan Yoder: I'm the VP of Engineering for a Hollywood-based social media startup, BorderStylo. The opinions expressed here are purely my own and are not in any way endorsed by my employer. While I do not see our applications as directly competitive to Facebook, nor have I presented them as such, it would be disingenuous not to mention this.