I Used To Care… But Things Have Changed
When I recently removed myself, and all records of me (to the extent I’m allowed), from the alleged “social network” known as Facebook most of my Facebook Friends simply did not care.
Just 8 percent of the people on my Facebook Friends list responded to my request to keep in touch by alternate means. Those alternate means in this case being Twitter and by signing up for email alerts to posts from my blog.
If you arrived at this post from one of my email alerts, I genuinely thank you. You are one of the few.
This frigid response came despite each Facebook Friend receiving a message on Facebook Messenger. I also put up a “Facebook Breakup Announcement” post on my Facebook Page. I emailed every Friend for whom I had an email address.
In the days leading up to deleting all of my data, I was also posting on Facebook about my effort to depart the site. It wasn’t really a secret that I was getting off Facebook. I was simply asking my “friends” to follow the same kinds of things I would do on Facebook via my blog.
I am a writer who takes pictures and sometimes makes music. I let it be known I would be writing about my Facebook experience – I’m not allowed to delete or deactivate my account — and asked f people to participate in a single-day Facebook boycott on April 11 when Mark Zuckerberg was testifying before congress.
I wrote blog posts about how to get off Facebook and posts about my experience as a digital hostage of Facebook. I promoted the posts on my Twitter feed, sometimes posting directly to the feeds of some of the people I had invited to follow my blog or to simply keep in touch. I adapted my posts into diaries on the liberal Daily Kos commentary site, with links back to my blog posts.
I had some hope that I would at least attract perhaps 25 percent of my Facebook Friends who could help spread the word. I also appealed to some of my friends in working press, hoping one of them would maybe retweet a link or post something to Facebook.
I was met with widespread indifference.
My “social network” largely failed me. There was very little traffic to the site or much reaction to my Tweets.
At one point, a TV station in Jackson, Miss., posted an online story linking to one of my Twitter posts. I received a slight uptick in traffic.
I seized on the opportunity by directly appealing to many of my old Facebook Friends via email in an effort to make the post go viral. This had almost no impact. Almost no one I contacted took any kind of action.
When I left Facebook I somehow became instantly ignorable, even invisible. Who cares if he’s leaving Facebook? Who cares about why? Why keep in touch when Facebook is the way to stay in touch? Facebook is free and seemingly easy, after all.
In short, for many people I had connected with on the social network Facebook, I was not a “friend” at all without my Facebook presence. What I had to say was too much effort, no longer worth reading because it didn’t arrive spoon-feed by Facebook post.
Without Facebook I am a digital non-person.
Facebook is a commercial enterprise feeding off what its “users” produce – data and interactions that are then used to create highly targeted advertising. At the same time, Facebook has become an essential promotional vehicle for many small businesses. Not on Facebook? How legit can you be?
People feel beholden to Facebook. Many people cannot envision a life with out it and its enabler, the smartphone.
The alleged “social network” has turned its users into self-absorbed zombies who think they’re connected with others when in fact they are emotionally desensitized to actual communication.
Facebook strands individuals emotionally, socially, commercially and spiritually within it’s vast, closed and poorly run digital island realm, which is often mistaken for the Internet itself.
This is simply the cost of “free” online “social networking” driven by unbridled technology, unlimited greed and infinite hubris.
Too bad no one cares.
David Byrne, Civic Theater, San Diego, Calif., April 12, 2018
David Byrne is touring his new solo album American Utopia.
Byrne never fails to present a fresh face on a 40-years career with his infrequent but always sublimely creative shows. Why have a drummer with drum set on platform when you can have six drummer/percussionists in marching band harnesses, wirelessly miced and always in motion?
Leaning heavily on the albums “Remain In Light” and “Fear of Music” form the Talking Heads era, the show is also interspersed with a number gems form through his career. Byrne gives the fans the creative live interpretations of the favorites from the Heads and then lets loose with the equally strong new material in the latter half of the show.
The staging is knockout. No gear visible, no stage monitors, just a space that David Byrne inhabits with this incredible group of musicians. And they can dance!
Sorry about the shaky camera work and the sudden end on the 3rd vid. But you get the idea and the sound.
Facebook’s No Help Center
If you are an ordinary Facebook user with an issue the Facebook Help Center can’t solve there is no way to directly communicate with a human at Facebook.
Ok, go ahead, call 1-660-543-4800, the phone number that appears if you try to locate Facebook HQ using search. If you do make the call, a polite female voice tells you can’t call them and you have to communicate with them online.
Of course you can’t really communicate with Facebook online, either.
Ok, there is ONE way to ask Facebook a question.
Facebook recommends users go get a stamp from the U.S. Post Office, an envelope, some paper and write them a letter. Yep. Their mailing address is on their website. Note in the screenshot the date of the last revision go this policy – Sept. 29, 2016. Some things change very slowly at fast-moving high-tech outfit like Facebook.
I know this is true because I tried repeatedly to contact Facebook using the “tools” they make available to report issues. I received the same automated reply each time, with a second saying, gosh we’re working hard to resolve technical issues, but offering no further assistance of any kind.
At Facebook HQ the lowly users are vigorously ignored.
Which brings me to why I was forced to engage with Facebook No Help Center in the first place.
I wanted to delete my account.
I wanted to delete my entire account and all of its associated interactions. Everything. I wanted nine years worth of Posts, Notes, Likes Replies, etc. gone forever and completely from Facebook’s giant databases.
Facebook has a procedure for this, but you have to trust them to delete your data, and even at that they tell you they can’t promise everything will disappear. You can read more about this in my guide Getting Off Facebook Step-By-Step.
One of the requirements for deleting or deactivating your Facebook account is deleting any Facebook apps you may have created.
One of my skills is creating websites. During the past few years I created several Facebook apps for various websites.
My inability to deactivate or delete my Facebook account is because of a single Facebook app I created for a client about three years ago.
The client was a civic organization and my work pro bono.
However, the group’s leadership changed and eventually the website I created was erased and replaced with a new site.
This next paragraph is a little technically wonky in an Internet sort of way, so hang in there.
Facebook allows users to create apps that will perform various functions. The purpose of the app I created was to allow Posts to Facebook to appear in a sidebar “widget” on the website automatically and to allow the users of the website to post from the website to Facebook.
Facebook apps that users like me create have email accounts associated with them, in part so you can reset the permissions for the app in case of a problem.
User-created Facebook apps will also associate themselves with a type of Internet address known as an IP address.
It is impossible for me to reset the app’s permissions in order access it from an IP address I control.
Therefore, I cannot delete the app. This is why I needed technical assistance from Facebook, actual assistance.
If you are an ordinary user with an issue the Help Center can’t solve there is no way to directly communicate with a human at Facebook.
So off I went to the Help Center to report my problem.
This is what happens: First you reach this window: I clicked “Something Isn’t Working.”
Which takes you to this window:
Here I filled out the form telling Facebook’s robot response program that I can’t delete an app. Not shown here is a report where I attached screenshots of the issue.
I also used the dropdown menu under “Where Is The Problems?” None of those seems quite right. I picked “Other.” Not that it would matter.
And the response? After a day or so of waiting this was the result.
Yes. Case closed. It’s a good thing the folk at Facebook are working hard to resolve technical issues. It’s just too bad that they can’t resolve issues like mine, or any REAL issues at all.
Problem solved! For Facebook, that is.
Other than me getting elected to Congress, the only way I’ll get a human from Facebook to contact me about my little technical glitch is to write them a letter and send by U.S. Mail. And that will probably be answered by a computer-generated reply saying the best way to contact the company is on the web.
On Facebook users are, in fact, the product. The company’s ironically named Help Center represents an interesting way to treat your product, or should I say your 1 billion cash cows.
If your problem with Facebook doesn’t fit one of its predetermined problems and resolutions selected mostly by a radio button or check boxes from a predetermined list.
In the end I felt compelled to remove as much of my data from Facebook as possible. I feel help a digital hostage by Facebook, a company that has shown its indifference to it users – don’t call them customers — in very apparent and glaring ways.
Facebook’s No Help Center Spawns Other Problems Online
As I mentioned in Part 1, Facebook’s non-existent user service has actually helped create an entire ecosystem of scam website offering to either help you communicate with or solve your problem with Facebook, usually in exchange for your personal information and/or some money.
Anyone asking for money or personal information to help you with Facebook issues is scamming you.
This site is NOT and will NOT ask for money to help you in getting off Facebook, or in limiting its intrusiveness until the company is forced to improve its privacy tools and its help functions for users.
The Icarian guide to Getting Off Facebook is 100% fee and royalty free. No advertising is involved.
Facebook’s abysmal Help Center is in reality a purpose-built wall insulating the company form the outside, especially from the site’s users, its unwashed masses. It’s the only explanation for the overly difficult to navigate and unhelpful Facebook Help Center with its ridged, cumbersome features and robotic responses to real issues.
The only other plausible alternative is that Facebook’s stable of very expensive computer engineers, user experience experts, designers and psychologists are incompetent and fail to understand the needs of its 1 billion plus users.
If Facebook’s users are so important and their needs are to be addressed in the wake of the loss in confidence in the company, the Help Center as it is today is certainly NOT the way to regain anyone’s trust.
But is Facebook really worth it? Is there REALLY and there there?
What’s left unsaid is that Facebook feels free to whatever it wants with the information users have gifted the company as compensation for providing for gratis, — out of the personal genius and magnanimous generosity of company founder Mark Zuckerberg — the miracle of instant connection and communication.
And, free of charge, Facebook also provides instant exposure to advertising. Targeted advertising. Lots and lots of targeted ads, which use data from users to reach very specific sets of Facebook users – like potential voters in certain elections, for example. While, of course, respecting your privacy.
In Part 4 will examine the “cost” of Facebook and it’s value proposition to their users relative to the other two online behemoths Amazon and Google.
Coming soon: The Case Against Facebook Part 3
Getting Off Facebook: An In-Depth Guide
Getting off Facebook isn’t easy nor simple. You do not need to go to the extremes that I did to simply delete or deactivate your Facebook account.
As long as you don’t have an issue with your Profile that does not into Facebook’s rigid help system or creates some kind of glitch (as in my case) there are ways to minimize your Facebook interactions, therefore making yourself less valuable as a collection data points.
Turning off advertising on Facebook is a good first step. The steps for turning off Facebook ads are described in Part 1 of How To Get Off Facebook. You can find the tool for turning off Facebook ads (as well as ads on some other online services) here.
Another approach is varying degrees of “Facebook diets.” Diets usually involve simply using Facebook less. A step above this is “benign neglect,” simply stopping using Facebook for a long period of time.
There are several paths within Facebook leading to the links for downloading your data and to deleting or deactivating your account.
You can find the deactivate link though the Facebook Activity Log or under the Settings or from your Personal Settings page, where the link is located at the bottom of the settings box.
Getting Off Facebook: Downloading Your Facebook Info
At the risk of jumping too far ahead, I’ll mention here that Facebook allows you to download a copy of ALL of your Facebook information.
The bad news is it doesn’t make the information portable, meaning that if you found another social media and wanted to import your Facebook data you probably could not.
Click-By-Click Instructions for downloading a copy of your Facebook data:
1. Click the down arrow at the upper top right of the Facebook banner visible on every page.
2. Go to Settings
3. The bottom of the main menu click on the Download a copy of your Facebook data link.
Once you’ve downloaded your Facebook information as a hedge against account deleter’s remorse, you can proceed with restricting or deleting Facebook and still be able to at least return to the point where you downloaded the data.
Axe The Apps: A Good First Step To Getting Off Facebook
Another important step for controlling you data is turning off or deleting Facebook apps.
Like many Facebook features, Facebook Apps have a problematic history.
Exploiting a perfectly acceptable at the time Facebook app feature is how Cambridge Analytica acquired the data of about 87 million Facebook users.
Prior to 2016, Facebook apps could ask to access not just your data, but also all of the data of all your Facebook Friends. If 250,000 Facebook users with an average of 150 Friends each took a personality quiz, the quiz takers were providing information of 150 times that number. One quiz with 275,000 users responding would yield information for at least 41.25 million Facebook users.
This changed in 2014 when Facebook apps were restricted to gathering information only from users who signed up for them. However, this feature was not applied to all Facebook apps until some time in late 2015.
Despite plugging the Cambridge Analytica data gathering loophole, Facebook apps that you have directly enabled can still reap a signifcant data harvest your Profile, including information that might surprise you.
If you are planning to delete all of your data deleting and shutting off apps is a good first step. If you are going to completely delete you account you must delete all apps.
Remember, . You may want to leave Messenger until the end. This will allow to communicate with your soon-to-be former Facebook Friends during the process of departing.
The app settings page on Facebook is the place to manage the apps you’ve given access to. This link brings up a list of apps under “logged in with Facebook”.
Turn off any app you do not recognize. Turn off any app you don’t like. If you’re deleing ALL of your data Facebok will ask you to delete ALL apps.
Hopefully you’ll recognise most of them – if there’s any you don’t, consider clicking the “X”, removing them from your account.
Taking Getting Off Facebook To The Next Level: Delete or Deactivate?
Permanently Deleting Vs. Deactivating Your Facebook Account
Delete or Deactivate? That is the question.
Facebook has a “gotcha” interaction that will automatically revive your account. Should you log back in before the account is completely deleted, your account automatically comes back to life.
Here you can set some as Your Legacy Contact.
This person is allowed to access your account in the event you die. Even if you are not departing Facebook, designating a Legacy Contact is probably a good idea, no matter your age or demographic.
Facebook’s instructions on how to permanently delete your account – doing it their way.
It’s important to give this page a read, even if you know what you are doing. My rereading of this page helped reinforce the idea that messages and posts may be spread far and wide on Facebook, hiding one of numerous categories of data.
Deactivating your account is the easiest way of getting off Facebook, especially if you have a feeling you will be back.
Deactivation keeps all of your data in place, but as the box below notes, your profile will be disabled, your profile photo removed and, supposedly, your name.
During the deletion process, I discovered Facebook Friends who had deactivated their accounts. While I could not see their Profile pages or their photo, their names remained in my Friends list.
Reactivate your account and Facebook will welcome you back with open algorithms, ready to reap more data from your “free” account.
In fact, the only action needed to reactivate your account is to log on to Facebook.
Beware of this “feature” if your intent is deleting your account using Facebook’s method.
Facebook says it will take an inexplicable 90 days for your data to completely disappear from their clutches after you taken the big step and checked the Delete My Account box. You have to trust Facebook to remove your data for you. You getting off Facebook is something they don’t want to speed up.
Why 90 days? Because Facebook says so, that’s why.
The problem is, when it comes erasing data and a lot of other things, Facebook is not trustworthy. That lack of trustworthiness is probably one the big reasons you are reading this.
Getting Off Facebook: The Full Monty: DIY Manually Deleting ALL Of Your Facebook Data
Performing a manual delete of all of your Facebook interactions – the ones that Facebook allows you to delete – is not for the faint of heart.
It is an amazingly time-consuming task. People with things to do and places to be, like work or enjoying yourself in some non-online activity, will have a hard time putting in the hours it takes to do a complete DIY delete of their Facebook data.
This is especially true if you’ve had an account for several years and/or if you have a lot of friends that you’ve had a lot of interactions with. In my case I’m semi-retired and had the time to dedicate to this effort.
I pursued the manual DIY delete due to the fact that a Facebook technical glitch will not allow me to delete or reactive my Facebook account. Facebook’s Help Center has been absolutely zero help. I speculate that humans actually review less than 99.999999 percent of Help Center reports. It’s even questionable that human eyes scan ANY of these reports.
But I digress. You can read about my epic quest to remove my Facebook data here: The Case Against Facebook.
With warnings made and caveats stated this is what I did to delete ALL of my Facebook interactions myself, without waiting for Facebook.
I call it an epic quest because data scrubbing took the better part of seven days working several hours per day. When I first started the process I didn’t log my hours. After the third day I started logging my time, recording a total of 29 hours during the following four days.
My work in getting off Facebook was aided by an extension for Chrome, my default browser, which allows me to do what Facebook does not – delete items in bulk. Simply called Social Book Post Manager, it was the first tool I found online that looked good.
Once the deleting process began, I saw the fiendish maze Facebook has created, dividing numerous types of interactions numerous ways.
Each different type of post, interactions and reactions had top be deleted one category a time at time. Posts and other interactions would not completely disappear until all of the associated interaction had been deleted as well. If something has a Like associated with it, it must unLiked before you can delete the Like itself.
For example: You make a post with a photo that has a caption attached. People react to your post with Likes, Comments, Sharing to their own page, Shares to other people’s Pages.
Since the Post has a Photo, the photo caption the photo, has likes, caption has its own likes and reactions, comments shares, Likes and so on. If the post goes viral the number of these interactions explodes into a Technicolor rainbow of mineable data for those with skills, resources and motivation.
But should you try getting off Facebook and delete your viral post, you would have to delete each and every one of the interactions in each and every category.
If you attempted this with the features Facebook offers as of this writing means deleting by hand, one interaction at a time.
Some information, such as when I sent people Friend requests, could not be deleted at all, so some data remains.
I soon realized I would NEVER have been able to do the work I did getting off Facebook, even though it took the better part of seven working days, playing by Facebook’s rules.
Clicking on Manage Account will open this page.
As mentioned earlier, it a good idea to designate a Legacy Contact if you’re just deactivating you account.
At the bottom of the page is the Deactivate your account link.
That will open this page.
On this page you are interrogated and then must make some key decisions.
You are forced to explain your reason for departing Facebook. This mandatory. No exceptions
Each of the radio buttons, once clicked, opens a dialog box contain some sort of reasoning why you shouldn’t delete Facebook. Ignore them.
If you check “other” you will be required to put something in the text box. An X works.
Next, check the box opting out of harassing emails from Facebook trying to get you to rejoin their data-harvesting scheme.
The next box regards apps. You may have already deleted these but if not, you can do that here by checking the box. Note: the empty rectangle below Delete applications box is where I removed the ID of app I cannot delete. This was done to protect both the innocent and the guilty.
Remember, as discussed above, this set of apps DOES NOT include Messenger.
The blue button below is the Deactivate button. Clicking this does NOT delete your data. Deactivation is described in detail above.
If you are manually stripping data, there are some types of Facebook data that that Social Book Post Manager cannot remove.
You will still need to remove, by hand, one at time, ALL of the Groups or Pages you have joined or followed, any Groups or Pages you may have created. The same is true of your Photos both on your profile or any Pages you created. Again, by hand one at time.
Pages take 10 days to disappear.
Deleting photos form my Pages was also an issue. Eventually the delete image button stopped working for images on pages. I just have to take Facebook’s word for it that the photos are actually deleted.
Facebook the button on the here may be a browser app for these categories, but I didn’t find one. This doesn’t mean doesn’t exist or soon will. Nor is there any stopping Facebook from blocking these kinds of tools in the future.
The ultimate final step of stripping your data from Facebook is the unfriending process. I unfriended everyone one at a time, alerting each person individually through Messenger and putting up a final Post announcing my breakup with Facebook.
The unfriending process also revealed another class of interaction, one that couldn’t delete. Facebook still showed every Facebook Friend request I had ever sent.
Getting Off Facebook: Click-By-Click Steps For Permanently Deleting Your Facebook Account
This is the method for deleting your Facebook account, but trusting Facebook to scrub your data from the site. You can jump to Step 3 skipping Steps 1 and 2.
It may help to get you data deleted more quickly and it will also help to keep you from logging back on to Facebook, possibly accidentally with asored password. Logging back at any time until your account is deleted will reactivate your account.
Step 1: Generate a random new password.
This helps you to forget your Facebook password and may speed up your account deletion even more.
Step 2: Change your Facebook password
1. Go to Settings and privacy
2. Select security and login
3. Select Change password
Enter the new random password generated in Step 1.
Step 3: Delete Your Facebook Account
Click on https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account
You can find this link by searching the ‘Facebook Help’ Page for ‘how to delete the account permanently’. Then follow the steps. Click on ‘Let us know’ link.
You should then see this message.
Step 6: Account deleted! Do not log in to your Facebook account in next 14 days or your account will be immediately revived. Facebook says it can take up to 90 days for them to scrub all of your data.
But wait there’s more!
Do you use your mobile phone to access Facebook? Really? A lot? We need to talk.
Getting Off Facebook
See Part 3: Getting Off Facebook And Your Phone (And Tablet). Coming soon.
Not everyone has luxury of leaving Facebook, much less scrubbing all their data. However, everyone can take part in a SINGLE DAY Faceblock global protest on Facebook on Wednesday April 11. That’s next week. http://facebookblackout.org/ #FaceBlock #DeleteFacebook
Take part in the single-day Faceblock protest and let Facebook know you’re more than just a set of data points.
From the Faceblock protest website:
Have the recent revelations around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica got you concerned about who has your personal information and how it’s being used? Worried about how elections and referendums around the world might have been engineered? Angered that fascist and racist content is allowed to proliferate while those fighting for civil rights have been blocked?
Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have made apologetic statements and promises, but this is not good enough. Facebook has admitted that it is likely that all users have had their data scraped – that means that 2 billion of us could have been exposed. Facebook: you can do better.
If millions of us refuse to use Facebook for just 24 hours on 11 April when Mark Zuckerberg is due to testify to the US House Energy and Commerce Committee, and post about why we’re doing it, together we’ll send a powerful message that Facebook must do better. Our governments must also do more to protect our privacy, regulate digital monopolies, defend our civil rights and safeguard democracy.