I’m one of those people who spent years threatening to quit using Facebook, often in posts on Facebook. Then, this past Sunday night, I made it official, and set my account to be permanently deleted.
Not only has Facebook become increasingly creepy, announcing a Portal smart device that will track your calls for ads, but the company (and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg) has lost my trust via a series of unsettling moves.
Here’s why I finally hit delete, and why I’m not looking back.
Two-Factor Authentication Abused
While I’ve been bored with Facebook for years the last-straw that started me down this path came while I was reading the tech news during a recent vacation (yes, I’m always on). I almost exploded with anger upon reading that Facebook used phone numbers submitted for the two-factor-authentication security process for its own ad-targeting.
I’ve written multiple articles telling people to use two-factor authentication security options, and the fact that Facebook would abuse this trust felt obscene. A response from Facebook instilled zero confidence, as the company stated, “We use the information people provide to offer a better, more personalized experience on Facebook, including ads … We are clear about how we use the information we collect.” That basically says, “It’s your fault for trusting us.”
But that was one month before I actually deleted my account, as I was on vacation and didn’t want to burn those hours on Facebook. So, I backburnered this plot for another day.
Also, this terrible abuse of personal information is just the latest example of Facebook’s terrible security posture. A recent breach affected around 30 million accounts, which is yet another sign that the company’s mistakes are hurting its users.
Video Lies Lead to Lost Jobs
As someone who works in media, I’ve watched as countless friends were affected by a strategy commonly called “Pivot to Video,” which Facebook practically drove with its emphasis on Facebook Live content (which Tom’s Guide does publish). The pivot to video hurt plenty of folks as it incentivized outlets to fire writers and hire video-content creators.
Unfortunately, this virtual gold rush got worse, as video wasn’t the giant geyser of profit many had thought. A new lawsuit, published in mid-October, slammed Facebook for knowingly inflating its video-audience numbers, which gave publishers that false sense of urgency to fire writers and hire video producers.
How fake were those numbers? The suit, filed by a group of small advertisers in a California federal court in 2016, notes discrepancies of anywhere from 150 percent to 900 percent.
Yes, the Cambridge Analytica scandal got all the headlines, but as someone whose account wasn’t affected by that scandal, that didn’t exactly hit me where it hurt. But this move reminded me of countless instances of offices sacking their writers, for fortunes that didn’t exist.
An Out-of-Touch CEO
Why am I so willing to believe companies that attack Facebook? While Mark Zuckerberg is incredibly smart about things that benefit his bottom line, he seems completely inept when it comes to how humans interact.
Remember that time he compared weeding out hate speech to food companies trying to control the amount of dust in chickens? That wasn’t my first sign that the Facebook CEO was asleep at the wheel, but I chuckled as I wrote that article, wondering if his software was faltering because of a buggy update patch.
MORE: How to Stop Facebook From Sharing Your Data
And then, in an interview at Recode, Zuckerberg took his weird ways of thinking too far, supporting the act of posting insanely incorrect opinions because you believe in them.
Specifically, he voluntarily brought up the Holocaust:
“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong, but I think- … It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent.”
Zuckerberg tried to distance himself from the original statement (“I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.”), but if he thinks his idealism is anything other than incredibly naive, he’s wrong.
Quitting (with a Catch)
Recently, I bought a new phone, and when I was setting it up from scratch (to test how many apps I truly need), I realized I was in no rush to get Facebook or Messenger on the phone. I could solve any issues related to those apps on the desktop, and they could always wait until I was back at a computer.
Of course, there was one exception: that one friend who prefers to communicate with Facebook Messenger. I texted him, before I made any decisions, and asked if there was another way to reach out to him. He then gave me his WhatsAapp number (his actual phone number), to which I groaned.
I knew in this moment that while I could get rid of my Facebook account, that I couldn’t elude the overarching corporate reach of Facebook Inc., which owns WhatsApp and Instagram, two apps that still have value: the former for texting international friends, and the latter for still being fun to use.
How I Deleted My Facebook
Fun fact, the second Google Search suggestion for “how to delete” is “How to Delete Facebook” (right behind how to delete Google Search history). I didn’t need to search those instructions, though, as I wrote our “How to Delete Your Facebook Account” story back in March, during the height of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Before I followed my own instructions, though, I posted a note explaining these sentiments on Facebook, noting that my account will dissolve, as if erased by Thanos at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, at the end of the weekend.
MORE: How to Stop Facebook Messenger from Logging Calls and Texts
Next, I asked for a download of my whole Facebook account, and then opened up the Events section of Facebook, and navigated to the Birthdays section, to note down every single friend’s birthday that I wanted to remember.
At the end of the weekend, as promised, I finished the instructions from my how-to story. During the days that followed, though, I’ve noticed an odd side effect: whenever I open a web browser, I instinctually click Command+N, type F and hit enter, the series of keystrokes I used to perform to open Facebook. Now, that just opens the Facebook sign-in page, which I close after chuckling at this symptom of my own lingering addiction.