Aside from stomping feet and rolling eyes, we've yet to see massive fallout from Facebook privacy concerns, let alone a large exodus. Though, when it comes to privacy, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has shown, how shall we say . . .lack of concern.
Yesterday, one longtime Facebook user, DJ Jacobs, (DJ had been using the service since 2004) sent me (and his 1,002 additional friends) a goodbye note. The note is a great representation of the frustrated user experience and echoes many of the annoyances I've heard from users over the years.
The letter serves as a reminder to companies willing to throw user privacy out the window: devoted users will only be pushed so far before realizing your cons have far exceeded your pros. Or in the case of Facebook, your pros have become your cons. As we journey through this 24/7 communication age, one must wonder whether it's wise to broadcast every like, status, interest and group affiliation to a $30 billion dollar corporation.
Perhaps more importantly, for Disciplanner users, ask yourself if Facebook is really helping you achieve your goals, or contributing at keeping you from them?
DJ's letter is below:
I'm writing to say goodbye. After over 6 years, I'm leaving you. I feel like I hardly knew you. But then again, you certainly know me. You know what I told you about myself. You knew what others told you about me: what I was doing, what I liked, where I went, what I was buying and more. You let others put up pictures of me without my knowing it. Not once, not twice, but three times you shot first and asked questions later with regard to protecting my privacy; not to mention your founder's questionable respect for other people's privacy throughout facebook's history. You've always opted everyone in; now I want to opt out.
Come to think of it, your entire purpose is to sell my information to advertisers. I don't begrudge you, it's a brilliant business model. How could a search engine know more about me than a site I load with my personal information, interests, personal connections and history? You even built-in a "like" button to better understand my likes and dislikes within the facebook universe; recently expanding your thumb[s up] into my eye wherever I browse. But I'm worried about what you are doing with all of this data and how you protect it. On top of that, facebook, your Terms of Service basically state that you own my data as long as I have an account with you.
I know you consider yourself a "social utility;" Outlook on Steroids. I think that's right. A utility provides basic services at low, regulated prices: electricity, telephone, TV and, now, social interaction. The convenience of this utility is great, but the price is too high. I want my privacy back. Unlike the world of real utilities, where my choices are limited to one, two or three service providers (potentially capping my Quality of Service), the Internet gives me dramatic choice.
Video - Vimeo
Photos - Flickr
Email - Gmail
Chat - Skype
Link Sharing - Twitter
Blogging - Tumblr
Events - Punchbowl
Networking - LinkedIn
Killing Time - Any book
All of these sites provide significantly higher service quality than you. But that's not all. The best part about all of these sites? They are each owned by different companies. I don't have to rely solely on your technological ability to protect massive amounts of my personal information. More importantly, I don't have to rely on your "good intentions." I'm disaggregating myself in an attempt to reclaim what little protection of my privacy exists in the modern internet world. By the way, that goes for you too, Google. So, if you need to reach me, just send me an email. That technology isn't exactly out of date and the email server won't tell everyone what I had for breakfast.
It was oatmeal.
Best of luck to you in the future.