July 16, 2014
My name is Chris and recently I casually wrote an article on LinkedIn, the largest social network for professionals, sharing my personal experience on why I quit Facebook.
Never would I have thought my post gathered almost half-a-million reads in a week, with over 10,000 shares on LinkedIn, thousands of new followers to my posts, and most interestingly and ironically, over 5,000 of your own Facebook ‘like’. My article becomes the weekly most discussed on LinkedIn thanks to the overwhelming responses and discussions it initiates. People told me my article is momentarily blocked on Facebook, and some of your own staff have been checking out my Linkedin profile. I know my voice is being heard.
People from all over the world who I never met, after reading my article, send me messages and tweets telling me how much I speak their minds. The big picture here is that Facebook leads every social site in online privacy issues. What strikes me is that even for many who have already quit your site, Facebook remains a very personal matter. People struggles to decide whether they should quit, because there are many personal connections at stake. They are afraid that quitting your site means being disconnected from their own social network and becoming isolated. In my opinion, your site should not be like drugs that gets people addicted. Your site should be a nutritious meal where people feel energized after ‘consuming’ it.
Facebook was a great tool for me. I used to use your site to keep in touch with my friends and peers; I was able to re-connect with my long lost peers; I read funny quotes and received adorable pictures; I used Facebook to organize events and it was a fantastic way to gather people. Unfortunately in recent years, for me, Facebook has become the equivalent of a Digital Dumpster: chaotic and ever-changing privacy settings, useless ads among my news feeds – just to name a few. I didn’t feel comfortable putting anything on it anymore. And then there is the Timeline, where your site wants us users to put all our live’s matters onto it, all the way back to the times when we were born. It was that moment I told myself ‘Thanks, but No Thanks’.
Voltaire, the famous French Enlightenment writer and historian, once said, ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility’. Although not exactly Spiderman, you are the chairman and chief executive of the most popular and largest social network on earth, therefore you have the responsibility to provide an environment where people can share and interact without worrying about personal data being violated.
I admire you and your wife’s recent philanthropic works. For starters, Priscilla and myself share the same last name and speak the same Cantonese dialect. I also admire Priscilla’s decision to be a physician in San Francisco serving underprivileged families and children. She chose to make a difference in people’s lives. I think Facebook can do that as well – make a difference in people’s lives instead of exploiting users’ privacy and data in the name of profits.
I want to come back to Facebook as an user. I want to connect with my online friends once again. I want to see what they are up to. But until the day I feel comfortable enough sharing anything on Facebook, I will avoid your site like a plague. Can you please help ex-users like me rebuild the lost confidence of using your social network?
However, I guess it is not easy for you and your team to bring Facebook back to the ‘good ol’ days’, where users can share and can feel safe that their personal data are not being mined continuously and unconsciously to satisfy marketers and advertisers; where psychological experiments are being conducted with users’ consent; where privacy settings are robust and are easy to understand; where news feeds are not being manipulated and users can see friends’ updates that are important and are meaningful to them; where users do not have to remember to opt out on various marketing initiatives; where hackers (or smart engineers) are synonymous with white-hats; where apologies are properly made when privacy of users have been clearly violated; where parents do not have to worry about their kids meeting strangers on your site; where my every move on the web are not tracked by your cookies. After all, shareholders are king and they want to see increased profitability above anything else.
I understand that change is uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but our world changes every day. Humanity embrace changes therefore we have progress as a society. I dream that one day the largest social network will become a destination everyone enjoys hanging out on.