Facing Facebook

It’s taken me time to put my thoughts together, but I felt I needed to reply to the recent changes in Facebook and the reactions of people about it.

In short, Facebook changed their interface again, everyone complained and said how much they hated it, then within two days, everyone shut up and just kept going, as if nothing had happened. I’m handling this by changing my habits. I’m switching, as much as possible, to Google+. I’m doing all my new posting on Google+ (other than my Hal’s Haiku page on Facebook) and I’m only responding to other posts on Facebook. I plan, over time, to reduce my interaction on Facebook more and more until I don’t use it anymore.
If you want to keep up with me online, then join Google+ and add me to your circles so I can add you to mine. I’m on there as Hal Vaughan and I’m staying there. I will be on Facebook less and less because I am just not going to stay on a site where the company running it actively disrespects its users and treats them with contempt. I have some reasons why we should all leave Facebook (and go to Google+ if you prefer to stay on a social site):

  1. Mark Zuckerberg not only thinks it’s funny we trust him, but that we are stupid because we do. He has said on record, “They trust me. The dumb f—s.”
  2. Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook company leaders have made it clear they think privacy is obsolete, even though users ask for privacy, Facebook continues to actively work against those concerns.
  3. Facebook has had no competition for most of its existence and only showed the least concern for privacy when they saw what might be possible competition from Google+.
  4. Facebook is not run by business people or sales people, but by software developers, who have little concern for making it easy for people to use. (See more later on the disadvantages of developers not being guided or responsible to others in a business.) In short I’ll say that developers, as a whole, don’t like users and are more interested in what they call elegant program code than in caring about user concerns.
  5. While Google+ is run by a mega-corporation, the same as Facebook, and there is little reason to trust Google more than Facebook, at least Google does not actively treat users of their services with outright contempt. Many actions of Facebook have shown clear contempt and disrespect for their users.
  6. When confronted with security bugs, Facebook will ignore them until forced to fix them. They do not care about the security of our accounts and information until publicly shamed into doing so.
  7. Facebook has much more personal data on you than you think or know and is actively searching for more. (In Europe, some requests for personal data Facebook has on an individual yield as much as 800 pages of data!)
  8. Facebook could easily handle the issue of web page changes that upset users by simply using allowing different interfaces that all interact with the Facebook database through common program routines. In other words, there is no valid reason for forcing an update of what the wall looks like and not allowing users design a layout that works best for them.
  9. Facebook tracks every website you visit in your browser, even after you log out of Facebook. (They’re fixing that, but not entirely.) Do you have friends with different religious or political beliefs and you don’t talk about those issues with them because you don’t want them to know you disagree with them? Well, Facebook knows it, and soon they’ll know once Facebook reveals their new timelines and makes all that available to your friends.
  10. Facebook has shown open disrespect and even contempt for their users, yet we keep coming back, thus making it okay and telling them it’s okay to treat us like dirt. The longer we keep going back to Facebook, instead of going elsewhere or leaving the social media scene, the more we are sending the message it’s okay to treat us in a way we wouldn’t accept in personal relationships.

Aside from this list, there are other reasons I’m doing this. In the interest of not creating a dull essay, I’m going to give you my reasoning first, so people can read that quickly and make up their own minds about what they think, and after that, I’ll give you the background on it for support. In short, if I’m making a statement, I can support it with facts and quotes. My opinions are based on these facts, not on rumors or over-reactions.

Back around 2000 I was working as a Property Manger for a realty and rental management company. The situation was intolerable. My boss would kiss up to property owners and yell at tenants and prospective tenants. He would chew me out (and when he did a “chew out” it was always at least 20 minutes of a tantrum accompanied by at least a raised voice, often yelling, and blaming everything on me, the property owners, the tenants, or anyone but himself), sometimes even for solving problems and making things better. I don’t use his name here or elsewhere so people do not know who I’m talking about, but when he died, it took me three days to think of a kind thing to say about him – not out of bitterness, but because of how he behaved and treated people.

I was blind, at first, to what was going on. He’d get nastier and nastier, then when things went bad and I was about to quit, he’d suddenly make-up and we’d have what’s called a honeymoon period for a while, then things would get worse and worse, until there was another explosion. I had started looking for new jobs (which were scarce in that field at that time) and when he would go through the “honeymoon” phase, I’d stop the job-hunting. Things would get bad again and I’d start again.

Then one time, when there was an emotional explosion and he started acting nice for awhile, I thought, “I guess I don’t have to keep up the job search now.” Then it hit me: He’d only get worse again and it would be best for me to get a job now, while he was nice, so by the time he got nasty again, I’d have finished interviewing and I’d be turning in my notice. If I wanted to feel like I was getting back at him, I could even wait until he started a tantrum and give him my resignation at that point. (Which I figured would include the benefit of him seeing the consequence for his nastiness instead of being able to call me dis-loyal because I left when he was being nice.)

The bottom line is nobody can abuse you without your consent.

That concept is so important it bears repeating: Nobody can abuse you without your consent. In this case, I could quit at any time. True, then I couldn’t pay the bills, but I could leave the job and his abuse. I’ve been in bad relationships where I realized how disrespectful my partner was and, in the days before I knew better, I’d let it keep going. Then, one day, I was engaged to a beautiful woman who kept yelling at me more and more and treating me worse and worse as time went on. I realized she would berate me as much as she wanted because she has no respect for me or my limits. So I left and never felt prouder of myself than I did at that moment.

What’s this got to do with Facebook?

Facebook has no respect for their users and continually treats users with contempt. We, as users, complain, then come back. Facebook is so disrespectful of users, they rank, in customer satisfaction, as low as monopolies and public utilities. People like their friends on Facebook, but hate Facebook.

And Facebook keeps abusing us and treating us with contempt and we keep going back for more and more.

I can’t do that anymore. I can’t keep going back to use a web service that has no respect for its users and continually sets itself at odds with them and treats them with contempt. I cannot keep providing them with a means to make money because I’m there. As Martin Luther King said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” I respect and love myself too much to keep using Facebook and dealing with their abuse.

Facebook loves to rile their users. Every time they add a new privacy feature and automatically set it to the least private setting, people get angry. It makes the news. And Facebook doesn’t lose users, but gains a number of them from the publicity. In other words, they benefit by treating us, the users, like dirt, and they intentionally do so.

Soon things will be worse. The default profile view of you and your friends will be the timeline, which shows the sites you visit, the links you click on, and more. If you think there’s not much privacy now, wait until you see the timeline! Even now, when I go to Yahoo news, I get windows telling me I can see which news stories my Facebook friends are reading.

So I’m reducing my time on Facebook and will be leaving it soon (other than, perhaps, Hal’s Haiku) because I can’t, in good conscience, support a company that hates their users.

Now, as I said, I’d save the support for my reasoning until later, so here it is, below. This is just my backup for what I’ve said above, so if you disagree with my comments or want support, keep reading:

I mentioned above that Facebook is a developer run company and this is a bad thing. A developer is, simply put, someone who does the work to develop a software program. Letting developers be in charge is good if you want elegant code in your program, but if you want a program intended for users, it’s bad. I’m a developer, or former developer, since I don’t do much of that right now. I’ve worked with developers and spent a lot of time on developer forums.

Developers have their own subculture and their own value system. Elegant and sexy program code ranks high in their values. If you can consistently write code that is short and does cool things, you’re admired. On the other end of the spectrum, from a developer’s point of view, is writing the interface for users, or writing patches for bugs. I’ve seen comments on developer forums about how much work they could get done, or what wonderful programs they could write if they only didn’t have to worry about “dumb users” or how “all users are assholes.” In the Facebook corporation, developers reign supreme. Without oversight to insist on things like a user-interface consistency, developers avoid working on features that help users and, instead, focus on items that are fun to program or that look cool to other developers.

Developers and users are often at odds, but this setup inside Facebook just encourages it and makes it worse. People who are more concerned about writing a cool program than in creating a good interface for users are the ones who create the user interface.

This is the same situation we, as users, face with Facebook overall. We want privacy, Facebook wants our information to sell. We want to keep up with friends, Facebook screens all our messages and posts and comments for any information it can find about it. It keeps everything and never deletes it and then uses it to determine who we are, what we eat, what we buy, and every little piece of info that Facebook can sell about us.

Now, to make it short, here are a number of links on this topic that back up a lot of what I’ve said. They’re worth reading:

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1 Response to Facing Facebook

  1. Elizabeth C Lanier-Wood says:

    Thanks for info. my dear. I don’t like the fact that FB will follow you even when you log out. The idea of a timeline for each user bugs me to. I know one thing I am not going to fill out the timeline. I am thinking about going over to google. I have a new cell number and I can be able to text and such but I am not linking it up to FB beacuse Verizon told me of horror stories about FB and people’s cell numbers.

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