Tableau Consultant @ The Information Lab.... this is my personal blog.

Tim Ngwena

Trial separation with Facebook: Part1

I'm not the first and by no means the last to do this, but I thought I'd touch on some of the challenges I'm facing and how not being on Facebook is changing the way I look at online and social experiences. Part 1 will focus on the reasons for leaving and actually doing it without breaking some of the deep links (social sign on, contacts, messaging, events, birthdays etc) that have rooted themselves almost exclusively in the platform. Part 2 will be a few months from now essentially reflecting on how it's been.

Why Leave?

That's the easy part, Facebook simply doesn't add value to my social experience both on and offline. It burns time, it's become a sea of mostly poor punditry and content that gets re-hashed over and over, it's getting super busy with adds or more sneakily, 'promoted stories' that I often don't want, and whilst privacy settings have improved, the whole system is such a mission that frankly, I'd suggest starting again to anyone whose 'cleaning' their profile.

I accept it's a free service but part of the unspoken contract that I personally held with Facebook was that I'd continue to have my information on there on the basis that the net benefit would far out way the investment in time and effort to maintain it. It simply stopped doing this months ago and I guess I decided to do something about it.

Leaving Facebook is...

... really difficult, and although the company has improved the mechanism to do this properly (delete your stuff off their servers entirely), it's a bit of a mission and can take time. My advice is this, have a trial break up with Facebook by deactivating your account. Deactivation means your account (and all your stuff) stays on their servers waiting for you should you wish to return in the future. In the event you forget something or need access again you can dive back in, reactivate your account and deactivate it again. Also Facebook add new features all the time, it's in a constant flux and should they make more steps int he right direction, it might be handy to carry on from where you left. The ideal option would be to turn you timeline into a static one-page signpost informing your contacts about other ways to reach you.

A few things to consider before deactivation

Spend one week signing out of sites that require sign in and sign in with your email address instead. You'll realise how many you signed in to using Facebook. Whilst doing this, make sure you have something like Last Pass running or Apple's Key Chain service. You'll have to remember a lot of passwords and services like those mentioned above can take care of this for you and leave you only having to remember one password. I had 43 unique sites that used Facebook login and given recent security scares, it's good practice to use a different password on each and every one.

Disconnect key services from Facebook. I'm talking about apps that might use Facebook as an authentication system or even your phone. For example iOS6 and 7 both had integration with Facebook so disabling it makes sure your account doesn't cause any problems on your device or vice versa. 

Once you're ready to put the account to sleep, download your information from Facebook. This option creates a download of all the information you've ever uploaded to Facebook and emails you the link. Once downloaded you essentially have your archive of content on your desktop. This is handy if you use Facebook as a photo storage solution or have messages that you'd like to keep. 

If you're a developer or page manager, you've still got quite a few steps ahead of you. I manage several pages and groups as part of my freelance work so before deactivating the account, you have to make sure you transfer any admin roles to colleagues or profiles. If you have Facebook apps, you'll need to shift admin roles or delete the apps. The deactivation won't work until you have. 

App deletion - Removing apps from the Facebook developer console.

Finally, let people who need to know that your going to de-activate your profile. It might be odd if they come to search for you and find you've totally disappeared. It's also quite handy to do this while still on Facebook.

Deactivation Screen - Just a few things to look after before you deactivate your Facebook account.


Do it

That's it, press deactivate and enjoy having the weight off your shoulders.