Facebook has been getting a lot of negative press lately, and for good reason: they started out as private networks of friends-chatting-with-friends, and then they slowly drew back the shower curtain so that now those same people who signed up to share photos of their drunken revelry at Harvard frat houses now have all their photos, comments, and profile information publicly acessible to everyone in the world. It happened so slowly that most people didn’t even notice that they’re now dancing naked in the middle of the street.
Basically, Facebook-the-company broke the social contract with their product users and the ones who noticed stopped trusting them.
Some people have deleted their Facebook accounts in protest, but I didn’t because Facebook has some utilty for me. Here’s what I did instead:
- I went into Facebook’s Account – Privacy Settings and set everything to be visible to friends only (not visible to Everyone, which is the new default).
- I used the Facebook scanner tool from http://www.reclaimprivacy.org/ to scan my privacy settings and make sure I didn’t forget someting. (It’s a free tool written by some guy independent of Facebook, and he also posted the tool’s source code so anyone can inspect it to make sure it’s not doing something devious.)
- I deleted all my Facebook profile information except for public things like my website address (http://www.troymcconaghy.com).
- I log out of Facebook whenever I’m done using it. I don’t want them following me all over the web. (Yes, I know about cookies and Flash cookies. I delete them regularly.)
- I decided to stop posting photos on Facebook. I now post photos on my Flickr accounts instead. (I have one Flickr account for Second Life screenshots and another for regular photographs.) Facebook reserves the right to shut down my account without recourse. I don’t want to wake up one day to find thousands of photos now gone because Facebook decided they don’t like me. (My Flickr accounts are paid premium accounts, costing about 30.00 USD per year.)
- I also have AdBlock Plus installed on my web browser (Firefox) so I never see any ads: no ads on Facebook, no ads anywhere (except inside videos). It’s nice. Actually, I re-enabled ads on Google search results because those ads are useful.
This way, I feel like I can still use Facebook with some confidence.