19 February, 2015

Deleting Facebook, and Why It Failed

I've had issues with Facebook for a while. The first reason should be obvious to anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention: anything posted on Facebook essentially belongs to Facebook as soon as you click "Post," which in turn means the NSA most likely has a copy of everything you've ever done on the site. Even besides the Internet security concerns, there were other smaller issues that I was becoming increasingly frustrated with. For one, Facebook's fancy algorithms were filtering out many of the posts that my friends were publishing. Who knows which important cat pictures or milestones in people's lives I missed because Facebook deemed them not worthy of showing me. Then there was the more recent barrage of posts from people I didn't even know showing up on my newsfeed, just because someone I was friends with had liked or commented on something posted by a stranger. It got to the point where every other post I saw was from someone I either didn't know at all or had only a vague idea of who they were. At that point I decided this called for drastic action and I took the bold and almost shocking move of deleting my Facebook account.

I was proud about having achieved this. Deleting one's Facebook account is not something that comes easily, for a variety of reasons. First off, deleting a Facebook account, as opposed to simply deactivating it which is what Facebook prefers, is complicated. You have to Google how to do it because the page with the actual "delete" link is unreachable through normal navigation of Facebook's settings. Then you have to click a bunch of times through manipulative messages asking if you are sure you want to delete your account, and once you get to the final click, you are informed that your account won't actually be deleted for another two weeks, during which time if you accidentally log in to Facebook from any source, including logging into accounts that are connected to Facebook, your account will automatically be reactivated and you will have to complete the whole process all over again.

This meant some work before I could even start the process of Googling and clicking "delete." I had to disconnect Facebook from all the other accounts I had which I used Facebook login for. There are a multitude of sites that have the option of Facebook login; for me those sites were Change.org, Spotify, Duolingo and Soundcloud. A lot of sites, including Spotify and Duolingo, allow you to disconnect Facebook without losing your account, but some don't; I had to delete my entire Change.org account because I had opened the account directly through Facebook login. Soundcloud was a similar story: I forgot that Soundcloud used Facebook login and didn't disconnect it before deleting my Facebook account, so I lost access to my Soundcloud account completely, at least as far as I can tell. If you are considering deleting your Facebook account, make sure to identify which of your other online accounts use Facebook login, if any, and disconnect them properly before commencing with the deletion process.

After I had gone through that process and waited the two weeks for my account to be permanently taken offline, I felt free! I didn't spend hours each day checking my newsfeed and wading through posts I didn't care about, and I no longer felt the urge to document random details about my life in a status update. However, there was one unforeseen side effect: the view counts for my blog posts went down dramatically. Right before I deleted Facebook, new blog posts were getting around 70 views in the first few days. After deleting Facebook, that number went down by half to 30 or 35 at the most, and the view counts didn't increase much after the first week. I held out for a couple of months, but the desire for more page views was too strong. I thought I could avoid having a personal profile and just go right for a Facebook page for my blog, but it was not to be. In order to create a page, you have to have a personal profile first. Verdammt!

Also, here's another thing to consider for those who want to delete, or have already deleted, a Facebook account: you can use the same email address you used before to open an account again later, but you will have to start from scratch. Your new account will feature a blank profile, no friends and none of your old pictures. In my case this is not necessarily a bad thing, since this time around I want to show less about myself personally than I did last time, but if this is a concern for you then you should consider deactivation, which maintains your entire profile as it is, rather than deletion, which does not.

So here I am with a Facebook account again. But this time, I have the pleasure (and I mean this non-sarcastically) of also running a page specifically for my blog. Anyone who wants to can now like my blog's Facebook fan page and see each new post in their newsfeed (hopefully). If you want to avoid the very possible possibility of Facebook not showing you my posts, you can get updates every time I publish a new post by hovering over the Like button and clicking "Get Notifications." This is in addition to the option of following me on Google+ or signing up for email updates, both of which have existed from the beginning, and another new following option called Bloglovin'. Links for all of these options are in the sidebar on the right.

This time around, I plan to use Facebook differently. I plan to use it mostly to promote my blog and other interesting blog posts I find through Bloglovin' (where I also have an account for myself and a page for my blog), and hopefully this time I won't get caught in the trap of checking my newsfeed every hour. I may also use it to message people directly, but since I already have Telegram, Whatsapp and Google Hangouts for that I may not use that very often, either. We'll see how long this new usage plan lasts. I may end up just as much of a Facebook addict as I was before.

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