Like most people, I’m pretty bad at keeping New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve been trying a few new ways of sticking to them, with varying degrees of success. As we approach 1 January 2019, I’ve decided there’s one resolution I can stick to: I’m quitting Facebook.
I’ve been debating this move in my head for a while now, but I’ve decided this coming year is the time to go cold turkey.
It’s not because I think social media is bad for me, and it’s not because I need to go on some “digital detox”. I bloody love the Internet, the World Wide Web and many of the platforms it has enabled. No; I’m quitting the Big Blue because it’s so badly run, and it’s relationship with its users is parasitic.
Consider what we have seen in the last year alone. Since 1 January 2018, all of these things have been exposed in the media, and all of them with Facebook at the heart of them:
- the Cambridge Analytica scandal
- broken software exposing millions of accounts to hacking
- mass data breaches involving millions of accounts, exposing information users never intended to publish privately on Facebook, let alone publicly
- and of course the alleged Russian election interference that Facebook has allegedly sought to cover up
To top it off, Facebook’s CEO has allegedly refused to attend Parliamentary hearings so that he could be held accountable for some of these activities.
And here’s the thing. These actions are either those of a company in disarray or deliberately acting with bad intent: either way it’s bad for you and there is no incentive for them to change it.
Facebook don’t charge for their platform; they generate money through learning as much about you as possible. You’re paying with your personal data. That make’s you the product. If my data is my currency, you can bet that I want the recipient of that currency to be like a bank: risk-averse, responsible and virtually impenetrable. Facebook has to be a paragon of virtue if it wants trust, and the problem is that Facebook is consistently proving that it’s not. Just because this is Mark Zuckerberg’s first actual job (as is allegedly the excuse that Facebook’s PR teams band around) doesn’t mean we should expect less of his stewardship of one of the biggest companies in the world.
So for 2019, I’m done with the excuses, and I’m done with being the product. It’s a parasitic relationship that I could do without: as users of Facebook, you’re asked to carry all the downside risk without really getting very many upsides.
This year I’m going to go cold turkey on the Big Blue. I won’t be shutting down my Instagram or deleting my What’s App (yet), even though those are both owned by Facebook too. From 1 January 2019 though you won’t find me on Facebook. And, for the first time in years, this feels like one New Year’s Resolution I might actually be able to keep.