What would it take to get you to quit Facebook for good?

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What would it take to get you to quit Facebook for good?
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Cambridge Analytica, the U.K. data firm which acquired 50 million user profiles in the U.S., and may or may not have used them to help the Trump campaign, is just the latest in a long line of Facebook-related mishaps surrounding security, privacy, ye olde fake news, and so many other issues. But it remains almost as popular as ever, or at least it has been up until now. The online campaigns encouraging us all the quit Facebook are ramping up. This latest infraction isn’t too dissimilar from Barack Obama’s 2012 data-heavy re-election campaign which gathered data on supporters via social channels. But the news surrounding it definitely is more striking.

So I wondered, what would it take for most of us to actually quit Facebook for good?

You probably fall into one of three (or four) camps:

  • You don’t have a Facebook profile
  • You have one and you’re ready to call it quits because of this or others issues
  • You’re too into your Facebook community to give it up…
  • And the fourth (in which I fall), you work in social media and need to keep yours for that reason.

If you have a profile, I want to know: are you planning to keep it in light of the Cambridge Analytica breach or are you riding it out? We know that our cumulative data is being used constantly by tons of sites, and giving our consent to these is far easier and more subtle than we’d ever think. It’s hard to tell what information is being used and how it’s even affecting us, especially in a political function.

There are articles in lifestyle and tech media encouraging us to quit Facebook to make our brains less cluttered with falsified idealized lives making us envious and competitive, but a lot of us contend that we find inspiration in what we see online. If it’s getting in the way of your happiness, then it makes sense to quit it. If not, it’s gets murkier.

Facebook is an interesting beast since it’s one of the networks that has a hardcore Xennial, Gen X, and Boomer base, who often only frequent that and no other social sites. So if your aim is to keep on seeing photos of your nephew, get information about your upcoming reunion, or find events that your older-than-Millennial friends are going to, Facebook is where it’s at. Other than my work requirements, that’s the only reason I stay on Facebook: I want to keep in touch with those older pals and the communities they’ve created exclusively there. Unless I want to… ugh… pick up the phone, that’s the way to reach them.

Millennials and Gen Zers are using Facebook far less than their older counterparts, so it’ll likely have to do some soul-searching to figure out how to keep them in the long run.

Facebook has made a concerted effort to start showing us more from our friends and family and less from brands and companies (much to the chagrin to those of us who run branded blogs like this one). This is an effort to show less ““passive content” that encourages us to mindlessly click (like viral videos) and more content from people you presumably know. Is that working to make you enjoy the platform more than before? Is it enough to get past all of the privacy issues? Or will Facebook’s attempts to remedy the problem make you feel safer staying in the Facebook game?

Ultimately, I doubt Facebook will be substantially affected by this latest breach in the immediate future, but it certainly does cast a light on the cumulative effects of how much Facebook is being used by foreign and political elements and how much that affects our own lives and political systems… And whether younger, savvier users will put up with it.

Are friends enough to keep you on the platform? Is this data breach forcing you to consider all of your social media haunts as well?

Comments on What would it take to get you to quit Facebook for good?

  1. I have been doing a modified facebook fast for Lent (I only check on my laptop at home, once or twice a night) and it’s been pretty refreshing. With this news coming out, I’m thinking of going down to checking once a week or less, or possibly deleting my profile all together, though that comes with its own issues (mainly that my parents post pictures of my baby on facebook and tag me in them and that’s how most of my friends see pictures of the baby).

    What it has made me realize is how much facebook has affected how I stay in touch with friends and family. I started making a list of the people I’d like to keep in touch with even if I totally quit facebook, and it’s a pretty small list. Some of them I already also text or gchat with pretty frequently, so it wouldn’t be a big change, but others, facebook has been the only way to stay up-to-date with them and their lives. I don’t want to burden them with keeping me posted on their lives either, or with feeling like they have to respond to me when I share something with them. My fear is that email or texts seem like an item in a to-do list, rather than just general “hey here’s something I’ve been pondering, reply if you have any thoughts on the matter.”

    • My fear is that email or texts seem like an item in a to-do list, rather than just general “hey here’s something I’ve been pondering, reply if you have any thoughts on the matter.”

      That’s so apt. I always feel like a direct message of any kind is a burden. I mean, how challenging is inbox zero for all of us? I like the passiveness of sharing on social media (especially in stories-style formats since it’s even more voluntary to see it — they actually have to click).

      • I’m the exact opposite. Texts and emails are direct, and whatever you put in them you actually intend for the recipient to get. It’s like the difference between having a real, personal conversation with a friend or sitting around a table in a big group with everyone talking at once to no one in particular.

        It’s fine to make a general post to, say, organise an event with lots of different people; but if you want to tell someone what’s been happening to you lately why not tell THEM, rather than whichever people may or may not read a general post? Plus when you next see them in person you can refer to things in your email/text conversation which are between the two of you, rather than “I saw on Facebook that X happened” which is impersonal – or worse, you have nothing to talk about because everything’s already on social media! Maybe I just don’t get the whole social media thing…

  2. Alas, as an introvert, I do probably 90% of my socializing on Facebook. I have too many friends that have moved away or just have busy lives, and we’d just completely lose touch if it weren’t for Facebook. I’m also in several bookworm groups and other groups for just interacting with people on various topics. Facebook keeps me from being a total hermit.

    • Same here. Even my best friend lives an hour away & yeah, we text, but it’s easy to catch up thru Facebook with little stuff that’s just on each other’s mind — what news we’re reading, what funny videos we’ve watched, random observations of the day, etc.

      And the groups are fantastic, I have several tiny private ones for long-distance friends, & then bigger ones for political activism & hobbies.

  3. I quit over a year ago and it was one of the best, most freeing, self-care things I’ve done for myself. You couldn’t pay me to reestablish an account, and I would love to convince more friends to join me. It’s not that I’m anti social media — I still follow journos and some arts stuff on Twitter, and indulge in the occasional rainy-day Pinterest binge. But the stuff that filtered through on my Facebook feed — a mix of political screeds, lifestyle bragging, and emotional baggage — was way too toxic for me. I’ve been getting emails again, and that’s nice and manageable, and feels kind of like having penpals (probably helps that I have separate work and personal email accounts).

      • Usually by setting aside a bit of time on the evening to write a check-in email to a friend I’ve been missing or just feeling out of touch with. It may take a few days, or even a couple of weeks, but I do get a similar response. I have about five friends that I rotate through throughout the year. It’s a trade off of hundreds of bits of minutiae for a few dozen longer and in depth communications, which are ultimately more memorable and satisfying.

  4. I deactivated my account in December. It has been incredibly liberating, freed up SO MUCH TIME and space, my stress level is down, I’m so much more present and engaged in my life, and I honestly don’t miss it at all. Removing it from my life made me realize how much NOISE it was creating and how much space it was taking up.

    There is a slight downside of feeling a bit removed from community events and info, but my boyfriend is still plugged in so I get it through the grapevine. Also, for my town it was useful for buying/selling random things – but Craigslist is also good for that.

    I had been (very half-assedly) trying to build an online presence as a life coach – but I abandoned that avenue because I realized I was forcing myself to engage in a space I had grown to hate engaging with. So I released myself from that path entirely, and having more time and less noise to consider my path has led me to shift my energy in an entirely different direction with my coaching skills that is way more resonant.

    Honestly, I feel I have gained everything and lost nothing by getting off Facebook. I had no idea about the security breach (because I’m not on Facebook haha), but that’s one more reason not to go back. I really don’t see myself going back at all (except to download my whole history at some point before I permanently delete my account – there’s 12 years of my life on that platform!).

  5. I have a novel coming out this year and had zero social media presence until my publisher insisted on it. I’ve noticed a definite negative effect on my mental health and it sort of makes me hate the few people I actually like in real life. While I recognize the necessity of it, it’s hands down my least favorite part of being published.

  6. I never could understand the appeal of signing on to a service that started its life by “looks-shaming” female coeds, harvests and sells personal information, selects what news you see, leaves you open to busybodies and stalkers, and subjects you to the equivalent of a self-esteem crushing 24/7/365 Dreaded Christmas Letter (as in, “Look how WONDERFUL my FASCINATING life is!”).

    I’ve never heard anyone say that they quit Facebook and regretted it…without sounding like an addict scratching at their needle tracks.

    But seriously, social media is like alcohol or gambling. It isn’t evil in moderation, but harmless fun. And I admit, it has many cool, productive uses. But we monkeys evolved to be social critters. Social media seems to tickle that highly sensitive and vulnerable part of our monkey brains in ways that have the potential to be incredibly addictive in non-constructive ways.

    But then, I’m a mean old techno-biddy with a heart of tarnished lead, so I’m likely full of fertilizer.

  7. I was never a heavy Facebook user – I’ve never installed it on my phone because I didn’t trust it to stay in its own ‘corner’ so to speak – and before I had a kid I would check it once a week or once every other week. Now that I have a kid it’s the best way to stay in touch with my mom groups, so I check in once a day for a few minutes but five to ten minutes is enough to get me caught up. I still do it at an actual computer instead of my phone. I’ve also always been ruthless about keeping my friends list small – only family and friends that I would like to keep in touch with if we actually lived in the same area and were physically able to hang out more often. Quality > quantity.

    I’d like to quit Facebook entirely but it has too much social value for play dates and “my kid is doing this weird thing, is that normal?” along with chatting about random stuff with my friends, but I’ve noticed that the vast majority of my friends only post “surface” stuff because we all know we’re being watched and monitored, so it changes the tone of the conversation as well. If we were all together hanging out it would definitely be a different conversation because we’d feel more free to vent or nitpick other’s politics or other conversations that are nearly impossible without tone/body language.

  8. For lent a few years ago I gave up reading a few blogs and neighborhood listservs that I basically only rage clicked. And I never went back. It was so great for my over all emotional health. Then I slowly moved that philosophy over to Facebook. I still post fun pictures from my travels or cute pics of my kids. But I hid all the people that basically only post screaming political commentary or toxic screeds. I set my privacy settings so my family pics only get shared with close family and friends, which minimizes unwanted toxic commentary on my own pictures.

    I hate that FB data mines, especially when they share with political parties that I don’t agree with. But unfortunately that seems like the way of the world is headed. Our data is shared with everybody. I swear buzzfeed knows more about me then my husband thanks to all their quizes. Pretty much all social media sites data mine/ share to some level. Right now I’m looking at an advertisement on OBH for the phone that I did a google search for yesterday. And I bet Instagram will have a sponsored add for either lawn mowers or garden supplies when I log on after lunch.

    • I think I’ve hidden 75% of my Facebook friends and I assume they’ve done the same to me. In that respect, there’s really not that much that sends me into rages or even stresses me out. That’s probably one of the biggest tricks if you’re planning to stay on it.

  9. I’m very tempted to use my “work” email account to set up a new FB account purely to manage the page for one of my voluntary groups and to keep vaguely up to date with things in a group related to my voluntary stuff and to wind down my personal account with the aim of deleting it at some point over the next few months.

    My only problem is Messenger. I could hopefully get one of my friendship groups over to WhatsApp (but for now long)

    Has anyone with an Android phone ever gone back to the email address that their ISP gave them? As far as I can see, unless I want to get crazy technical, if I want a calendar and email and stuff syncing between devices, I’ve got to share my data with one of the big companies.


  10. As one half of a military spouse (and soon to be in the military myself), I have friends scattered all over the country from our various moves (and friends’ various moves). My family is mostly not on FB, which suits me fine because we are few and keep in touch in more traditional ways (ugh, the phone, but also text and group chats!).
    I’ve thought wistfully about leaving FB, but until enough of my friends jump ship, I will remain. It’s far too convenient to organize book clubs, brunches, and “let’s pretend we’re young” nights on the town.

  11. My struggle with Facebook has been the sunk cost. I started as a freshman in college in 2005 when FB was new and now there’s over 13 years of my adult life recorded there (what the hell). I have a large but close internet tribe that exists primarily on Facebook. My family is terrible at communicating, but at least we can see updates. And I still haven’t found a good replacement for messenger that I can get friends to use.

    Mid last election cycle I started blocking all political meme pages, because I was really uncomfortable with how much manipulation/propoganda was going on. I’m working hard to get my feed down to ‘real things’ but it’s always a struggle. Plus, strip away all the extra stuff and you find that people aren’t really posting real updates like they used to.

    • Your reason is very similar to mine. I joined FB back in 2004 I believe, just when my network was my college. I have so many pictures from college and then over the last 14 years. I think mentally, that’s the hardest for me to deal with, the fact that unless I want to save all of those photos, I’ll be deleting something that honestly I don’t even look at but I like knowing is there. I’ve deactivated my account as of last week and I’ve deactivated it before, and while I was off, people forgot I existed. My friends had events that they only used FB events to talk about and they forgot to invite me until last minute because they assumed that everyone saw the invite.

      Also I can’t stand the politics because it seems like no one respects other’s opinions anymore. I put something on my wall during the 2016 primaries and my gram thought it was her place to come and start an argument. I told her, I don’t come and write on your wall with all your opinions that I don’t agree with, don’t do that on mine. There’s also no original content, everyone seems to just reshare some video or meme they found and don’t add any original comments. I hate what FB has become.

  12. I’m going to have to echo the other quitters and say that when I quit Facebook (about 4 or 5 years ago) it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So freeing and my happiness level greatly increased! I did eventually join Twitter for connections and news but I find it’s very different from Facebook. Although sometimes I need to take breaks from Twitter too.
    Only caveat is that now that my daughter is getting older, the only place I can find unschooling groups in my town is on Facebook. So within the past year, I created a new account solely for groups and I don’t have any friends (beyond the ones I need to be added to secret groups). I even say in my “About Me” section: I’m only here for the Unschooling groups. I won’t be accepting any friend requests. Thanks!
    Now if those groups become inactive or move to an actual website, I’ll be saying bye bye to Facebook again! *fingers crossed*

  13. I doubt I will give up Facebook anytime soon, which sucks because I REALLY want to. Unfortunately it’s the easiest way to keep up with my family and friends in the US when I’m on the other side of the world in Asia (first China, now Korea, and soon to be China again). I like knowing the minutia of their lives (and throwing a fake tantrum when they go to my favorite bar/restaurant without me 🙁 ), I can ask them about people that are not on Facebook (like my mom and youngest brother), and I would be a lot lonelier without it. The data breaches and data mines and political folderol have made me even more tempted to give it up, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

  14. I really love facebook. I have been on facebook for fourteen years and five states. I love that I have kept in touch with old friends and with relatives. I love seeing photos of former classmates’ kids growing up, and becoming close to them in ways we never were in school. I love showing photos of my kids and my life.
    I understand all the angst about the bad that facebook is and does, but it also does so much good. I’m genderqueer and Jewish living in a rural area.
    I know myself and how much I depend on the ease of FB–I will send a couple of emails to my non-fb friends, but not regularly, and we eventually lose touch. Today an old friend posted photos of her new baby. She’s only on FB once a year or so, and so I had totally missed that she was pregnant, she had a tough pregnancy and spent weeks in the hospital, and the kid was in the NICU for a while. We are in different time zones and have other young kids, so phone calls failed, and our emails had dwindled, and at some point it’s really tough to reinitiate those. If she hadn’t posted his life update on FB today, how much longer would it have been before we made contact? I saw her update and immediately emailed. Also, our sperm donor isn’t on fb and even though we try to make the effort to update him with photos every so often, we’re REALLY bad about it. I don’t think losing fb would make me any more likely to send photos to him; I would just feel guilty about all the people who don’t see photos or receive any updates from our family.
    My only compromise to non-fb life is that we send holiday cards every year to a long and always-growing list of people. It’s not much, but it’s some form of real life connection. We hang up all the cards we receive, and it’s like our friends from far away are in our living room, just a little bit.

  15. It would take a lot to get me to leave. A LOT. There are a few reasons for this:

    – I live in a country (Taiwan) with the highest Facebook penetration rate in the world (or at least it was the last time I checked). Taiwanese love two social apps: Facebook and Line (which is from Korea and not well-known in the US). So a lot of what is discussed in Taiwan happens on Facebook. If I were in the US I might ditch it – actually not many of my US friends use it and most of my Master’s cohort in the UK is ambivalent or they don’t use it.

    – Because I’m a foreign resident here, my social circle is spread out around the world. A lot of people say “if I wouldn’t keep in touch with someone off Facebook, why keep Facebook around to keep in touch with them at all”, but you know? I thought about it and found these people really added value to my life. I am able to participate in conversations with them that I wouldn’t if we didn’t have a social media connection, and the way life is now, I know I’d see them less often. Some people I actually care about would drop off the map completely, and that would be too bad.

    – It’s been useful for networking. I have gotten to know some very interesting and influential people in Taiwan because of Facebook. Without it, my ability to get to know them and become real friends with some of them would be limited. No other platform allows us to engage in multi-person conversation the way Facebook does.

    – It’s been useful for my writing. My blog got to be well-known in Taiwan in large part because of Facebook. It has parlayed itself into other writing opportunities – including paid ones! – because of Facebook. The majority of my blog clicks come from people sharing it on Facebook, not anywhere else (other big contributors are Twitter, other bloggers’ links and occasionally Reddit, but none come nearly as close to the traffic I get from Facebook links.

    As for the data issues…frankly, I don’t look at the ads. Living in Taiwan has limited how many are targeted at me anyway, as I don’t register on algorithms as based in the US, even though I am a citizen. I don’t do the quizzes ever and never give third-party apps permissions. Once every few months I check and see if any have weaseled their way in there regardless, and I kick them out.

    So the downsides just do not add up to the upsides for me to quit.

  16. If FB works for you, then more power to you and god bless.

    The problem with FB that nobody talks about is that many FBers tend to assume that EVERYONE is on FB, and use that as their only means of communication.

    Imagine the anguish of finding out — months after the fact, no less — that a friend had unexpectedly died…and died young.

    Imagine going through that anguish MORE THAN ONCE.

    And before anyone says, “then get onto FB, you stupid cow!” I don’t want my personal data mined, I don’t want to be more fodder for busybodies than I already am (and don’t ask me WHY I am…I’m incredibly boring). And what’s more, FB sounds downright unpleasant from what I’ve heard about the bragging, the time wasted, and the pointless drama.

    And it’s usually the biggest, most arrogant and insecure gossips who try to pressure and shame me into signing up.

    It doesn’t take a heck of a lot of effort to write an email…especially for something as important as a death. I’m contactable — just not on social media.

    And now you know why I became a Mean Old Lady. ):|

    • I’d hope someone would contact you if you were super close, but I can see how bereaved people would forget that one friend in particular doesn’t use FB. Used to be, you’d just put an obit in the local paper and everyone relevant would see it and know where to go for the funeral, but now there are barely any papers left. FB has replaced our traditional means of getting news and that’s a real hurdle for anyone who doesn’t want to use it.

  17. I never joined facebook because way back in the early ages when nobody really understood it and no-one had a clue about the rights and who owns what you post and no-one even knew about privacy settings (if there were any???) an artist friend of mine had some images stolen and used for profit in a marketting campaign. There was nothing he could do about it legally and he lost a lot of potential money and it scared the crap out of my paranoid-of-big-brother self. I never joined. I do not regret it. The people who’ve pressured me most to join are other moms I don’t know so well and there is so much drama in that group I really don’t mind not being included in it.

    Now my ten year old is bugging me for an account. So far it’s been rather easy to say no, but eventually I feel I might have to give in when she’s a teenager. Any tips on managing that scary thought?

    • I don’t know the circumstances but I’m fairly certain there was never a loophole whereby someone could just straight up steal your images for commercial purposes… they would still be copyright protected?

      TBH I feel like not having a fb profile probably puts teens at a big social disadvantage at this point (though, maybe not, they might be more focused on other apps by now.) I would recommend getting on there yourself and figuring out the privacy settings so you can help her lock it down properly.

  18. I just want to save all the pictures. If there was an easy way I could figure out how to export them I might be more inclined to shut it all down for good. As it is, I enjoy the social aspects – like seeing my moms’ groups events as a SAHM. Im a Facebook target – same age and class as Zuck. Ive had the account a loooong time so I’ve figured out how to set up my account so it shares as little info as possible. I hope if they got my info they counted my profile as liberal.

  19. I actually finally took a short break from Facebook/Instagram last week for four days and I’ve greatly limited my use since returning to it and I have noticed that A) I am habitually in touch with extremely few people without Facebook or Instagram, which I feel sad about and B) I preferred being without the habit of jumping to either app when I was bored or uncomfortable. So it’s a big question – how to build community outside of that space, or how to use it skillfully to SUPPORT community and not just turn my brain off when I’m sitting in a waiting room or on a break at work. I don’t have an answer other than, Yeah, I love that I am able to share with a wide group of friends AND it has become totally ingrained in my life AND that does concern me.

  20. – I sell products and also do freelance design so social media is pretty super important
    – As are connections
    – My social network is not super well established in the place I live, so I would pretty much lose contact with 90% of the people I know locally. I’m in that zone where people will invite me to things with a facebook event, but almost certainly wouldn’t text me about it. I work at home the vast majority of the time, so it’s tough to meet people.
    – I would pretty much never find out about events, classes, job openings, etc.
    – I have several fb communities that are super helpful for professional (and other) purposes that I would hate to leave.

    Basically for me to leave facebook, there would have to be a good alternative that pretty much everyone was moving over to. So… unlikely 🙁 I’ve really made my peace with being sold as a commodity, to be honest. I guess if I’m going to see ads, I want them to be relevant. And if FB wants to keep track of who I’m sleeping with, well, go for it, I guess. I’m more worried about how they’re protecting that data from leaks, vs what they might do with it themselves.

  21. I deleted my facebook a year ago. (I believe the company lacks in ethics, and it’s influence on society is negative) Overall it’s been a positive experience. I knew a lot of people and I was ready to trim quantity with quality in my social life and this was a the perfect way to do it. The people that want you in their lives will email you or text you if you go off Social Media. I had a lot more free time to fill and it’s easy to slip in some other social media beast like youtube, or you know, reading offbeat articles — but once you kick the information binging habit you’ll have time to enjoy other things 😉

  22. FB and all the other social media sites should really be called “Un- social” media. The whole premise of the word Social is based on personal face to face interaction.
    The internet media sites actually put a virtual armor shield to such natural human interaction. The internet un-social media is designed to take maximum profits by stealing your identity, your personal habits, and private emotional desires in order to target individuals and using their psychological weakness with subconscious with subliminal marketing. You can prove this by leaving your cell phone home for a day or so. You will become agitated, nervous, and display manic behavior. It’s like a drug.
    It’s also very dangerous in that enemy forces can use it’s freedoms as a tool against us. You are making yourself susceptible to being hacked and having your identity stolen.
    I got on FB when someone convince me it would help my business. It did not show any improvement what so ever. I read some of the most disgusting things on FB. I got off of FB and found that my time is much more constructive. The best advertisement is free, by word of mouth.
    I found that people would say things that they would never say face to face.
    I think it’s especially harmful to children. I believe it’s the root cause of bullying and maybe some of the horrendous tragedies we have experienced.
    Young people do not have a clue about the real horrors of world warfare. We are making ourselves susceptible to attack. Our defense agencies have warned us. If the enemies succeeds, you better understand what life would be like if most of our infrastructure collapses. Forget about clean water, electricity, gas, police, fire protection, you will be digging for worms to feed your children.

  23. I quit Facebook over three years ago as a New Year’s resolution and I’ve never looked back! I do not miss it at all nor do I feel like I’m missing out on anything. I don’t think I will ever go back to it!

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