In June, after more than 12 years of being on Facebook, I decided to deactivate and delete my account. I first joined in 2006, when Facebook was primarily a (university) student-only platform, when there was a strange buzz of “exclusivity” of being invited to join (ditto with Orkut, remember that?). Over the intervening period, I’ve seen all of its major changes, including the growth to 1 billion users in 2012.
However, for a multitude of reasons, I had started to move away from Facebook as a useful social network from c.2015, primarily focusing on Twitter and LinkedIn with professional-facing profiles. Perhaps the final straw has been the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, reinforced by the poisoning and polarisation of public discourse and debate as demonstrated by the 2016 Brexit referendum, as well as the 2016 US Presidential elections. The wider concerns of how our personal data is shared, used and abused is clearly a major societal issue that we are currently incapable of addressing in any meaningful and comprehensive way. This is further challenged by the international nature of our interconnected digital world, largely driven by a small number of major US technology companies.
This isn’t meant to be a “I’m cool because I’m not on Facebook post”, although I’ll admit it has been rather cathartic pruning one of my online profiles and deleting an app or two on my phone. And this probably won’t materially affect my online presence or activities…but after nearly six months, I don’t miss Facebook at all.
(N.B. I highly recommend downloading your Facebook data, especially if you have been on the platform for a number of years…)