Hello Family, Friends and Colleagues,

Why (short version)

On the next few days I will quit Facebook, which means deleting my profile and stop using it. I thought about this for a while and decided that is now time, I will explain why in a long explanation, but the short version is just this: Facebook and I disagree of which and with whom my updates, photos and other information; should be shared.

Why (long version)

Here's the long explanation. Facebook has a concept, an idea which they call "social norm". Basically what this idea, or ideal, entails is a world where everybody shares all information with everybody. I will skip the commercial interests behind this idea but I should say that I don't subscribe to this idea for several reasons, nevertheless, Facebook and I are in constant battle (metaphorically speaking) over my privacy settings.

The "Ask Feature"

My feelings against this "forced share" got stronger when I did realize that my privacy is not actually a result of my actions (things I share, settings I set on Facebook) but are dependent of how my circle of friends feel about it. Recently Facebook introduced an "Ask" feature, media reported as a flirting feature. The truth is, the "Ask" feature actually applies to any information you did not provide, it encourages your friends to request that information. Bellow a screen shot of a friend who did not provided some data do Facebook:

Ask

My problem with this feature is that Facebook lives from the data we provide to it, and its main goal is to obtain such data. I have no reason to believe they will stop trying to collect private data, as more they get more valuable it is the information they hold. Once the data collection flattens, a new feature will come along to collect more private data.

Weakest link

As I wrote, inherently with social platforms is the fact that the information you share is protected by the weakest link. What I mean by that, is that if you want to keep your data only shared among your close friends, it will be protected by the weakest password. I work in IT, I do have strong passwords but my strong passwords only protect me from someone changing my data, not accessing it. On social platforms like Facebook, friends are the ones with whose you share data but also with the ones who hack them.

Family security

There's one point that hits home, my family security. I do not know anymore which are the defaults of privacy settings on Facebook, they keep changing. But at some point, by default only a couple things were protected from public view. It turns out that Facebook can make decisions on what should be protected based on their assessment of what is "private" and "secure" in USA but that doesn't hold true everywhere.

What bad people can do with your data certainly differs from what bad people in Brazil can do and the legal protections that both have.

The more I think about this, the more it makes no sense to default sharing to a broader audience. I'm certain that most of my family do not know what is the reach of their sharing and believe they are only sharing with close ones.

Voluntary share versus leaks

You might, and I congratulate you for reaching this far, thinking that I'm being naive or paranoid. The former because our information flows freely for those who have the means, maybe by obtaining leaks from compromised services or bribing official institutions workers and getting all your tax data. The later because given such scenario I would be giving up the contact with some of my family, which I only contact through Facebook, for not much more privacy and protection.

It boils down on how the data was obtained in the first place. In one scenario someone is breaking the law on the other I'm voluntarily (which I'm not) giving the data away.

Afterword

I do feel incredibly weird about this, making me write down reasons to just click on a delete account button. I guess is because it will raise questions of friends and family and I feel like giving them an explanation. Still, the ones close to me know how to contact me and I do too, so, it's not a big deal. :)