Why I want to delete my Facebook account (but probably won't)

This post was originally written in 2013. Undoubtedly many details (like user numbers quoted) have changed in the mean time.

With over half a billion active users, and ranking as the second most visited website in the world, Facebook is arguably the most popular social networking website. When it feels like everyone and their dog has a Facebook account, it can only be a good way to stay in touch with people, right? While the obvious answer would be yes, I'm inclined to disagree.

Let me preface this by saying that I understand and realise that many of my reasons for wanting to leave Facebook could be easily fixed by a little work on the part of the user. However, the point that I am trying to make is that the extra work is the reason that I want to leave.

For me, one of the biggest worries that I now have (that I didn't have when I was younger than I am now) is privacy. I am well aware that you can set strict settings allowing only certain people or 'friends' (know that I am referring to who Facebook calls your 'friends' whenever it appears in quotes and real life friends when it doesn't appear in quotes) to see all your content, but most people (at least, most of the people I know) just accept most friend requests that they receive. I'm just as guilty as anyone else, I had 480 'friends'. While I do see some of them at university and in day-to-day life, there is no way that I have spoken to all of those people in the past month or even the past year.

There are people who are my 'friends' who I have since had falling outs with. While I have blocked some of them that I have had substantial fallouts with, ones that I have just drifted away from and now haven't seen in a long time are still considered to be 'friends' even though we aren't friends. This means that they still have access to my posts and data, exactly the same as they did before. I understand that with a tiny bit of work on my part, this could be rectified, but I don't want to have to block 'friends' as opposed to just not talking to them any more like would happen in real life. While they both achieve the goal of ejecting them from my life, there is the added action that is required to take place on Facebook.

Even though you would think that you are able to trust your friends (real ones, this time), for some, the temptation of having an unattended, logged in Facebook account is too much. While the result is often a harmless one, if an enemy were to have the same access to your account, the results could be a lot more damaging. In a world where the only way to identify someone is by their username and their display picture, proving that it wasn't you who did something is becoming increasingly more difficult, especially when breakups can happen just from someone setting their status to "Single".

Recently I have been trying to achieve a greater level of organisation and cleanliness, starting with the reorganisation of my room. Why can this not extend from the physical world to the digital world, starting with the purging of my Facebook account.

The main reason relates to the first point: there are over half a billion users. Most of my friends have Facebook accounts and they frequently use Facebook to mass-message people and to organise events and gatherings. In terms of ease of organisation, Facebook is probably the best and cheapest tool to use. But at what cost?

Even when you "delete" your account, Facebook keeps backups and offline-stored versions of all of your data. Facebook even keeps track of who your ex-partners are and stops showing you their pictures.

While Facebook undoubtedly has many uses and is great at what it does, I am not satisfied with sharing pretty much everything except my bank details with one organisation when I don't have to. If only there was a way to block Facebook like I can block my "friends".

Posted Saturday April 20th, 2013