I was willing to overlook that Facebook attempted to force me to download and use Messenger (when it worked perfectly well for years in the original Facebook app.) I was willing to overlook my punishment that since I did not adopt Messenger, I can only check messages on a desktop computer in an actual browser (pretty limiting in this day and age!)
I was willing to overlook the many, many instances of Facebook’s ongoing blatant disregard for the security and privacy of its users, of which I am one, an insignificant profile out of billions (although apparently my information is a money-maker, lord knows where it is and who has it!)
I was willing to overlook the de-emphasis in the newsfeed of anything from my business page because Facebook wanted to “persuade” me to pay to advertise my posts.
I was willing to overlook the fact that when I would go online and look for something on Nordstrom.com or Zappos.com, sponsored posts would immediately show up on Facebook with the very item I was looking at the very next time I logged in (although I suppose I ought to be grateful that I was given the option to turn that one off! Creepy, just creepy.)
I was willing to overlook the facial recognition feature that automatically recognizes you and suggests tagging. But I made damn sure I turned that off right away. Yuck!
I was even willing to overlook the phenomenon that we have all experienced, when you talk about a place or thing and next thing you know you are seeing ads and sponsored posts for it all over your newsfeed. But Facebook denies it’s listening, so I guess it’s one big coincidence.
I overlooked all of this because Facebook is the greatest platform to stay in touch with people, and connect with people, EVER. And it works because we are all on it! It is the only way I stay in touch with my own family, scattered as they are throughout the world in England and Ireland and New Zealand and Hawaii and currently, India, and sometimes Thailand (if not for Facebook I would not know what is going on with my own parents half the time.)
But there is so much about this platform that troubles me. And over the last couple of years I have deactivated my account several times for months at a time because it bothers me so much. I can’t reconcile the connections I want to keep with the icky factor of this platform and the unethical intrusive actions of the huge corporation it has become.
I minimize my use of Facebook as much as possible. I uninstalled the apps from my phone and iPad years ago. I have never used my Facebook login to log in to any other websites (talk about locking you in!) And lately, I was fantasizing all the time about deleting it.
And then, I lost my username—which I had widely disseminated in my writing bio online for many years. The cause was an odd feature of Facebook that I have never seen in the setting of any other social media platform. I panicked and immediately typed it back in, only to be told that username—the username I owned two seconds prior—was not available. Panicked, I reached out to Facebook for the first time ever via the help function on the website. I reported the problem. Only an automated response. I tried again. Automated response. I tweeted several times. Nothing. I have tried multiple times to choose it again in settings, and all I get is “username not available.” No recourse to regain my username that I worked hard to establish across the Internet, that is an integral part of my online identity and business, and now will forever exist only in URLs that lead to a broken link.
There is nothing, NOTHING, that makes me angrier than being disrespected. And Facebook clearly thinks I’m not worth even a personal response. Even if all they said was, sorry, nothing we can do, we don’t recycle usernames so you can’t get it back—I’d feel better. So I guess they pretty much think I am a piece of shit undeserving of a personal response, and as long as I keep freely providing them with my information, I guess I am perpetuating that belief.
I take my Facebook friends very seriously. I don’t friend people I haven’t met in person at some point in my life. I have enjoyed this community of people that cared enough about me to accept my friend request or send me a request. There is nothing more powerful than ties with other people, and having a community, online or otherwise. I have felt so supported at various times by my Facebook friends. By groups I have found that could exist nowhere else. I’m truly torn.
But my principles are my principles. And my gut feeling won’t let up. So this profile, that holds ten years of my life and a treasure trove of information about me, the former www.facebook.com/mrsathlete, is done.
I do not believe this means that I have to lose touch with my Facebook friends. I have a phone number, many email addresses, several Instagram accounts (yes, I know Facebook owns them but its not as creepy, yet), several Twitter and Pinterest accounts, a website, and an email opt-in list for blog posts. I also can’t notify 300+ people that I am leaving Facebook. So if our relationship is strong, we have other ways to reach each other. And if Facebook was the only way, I think I’m okay with letting it go right now. I am easy to find online. All relationships come to an end one way or another.
I’m done allowing Facebook to compile a detailed file of information on me and exploit it without limitation unless I receive something in return.
Like maybe treating me like an actual customer. With respect.