Leaving Facebook (for the third time)


So I’ve just made the decision that I’m going to leave Facebook.

This will be the third time. I returned on the previous two occasions due to a lack of social alternative (so feeling isolated after leaving), but I now probably spend a lot more time on Gitter, Twitter, e-mail and here than I do on Facebook. My tribe is a lot broader than my Facebook connections, who are mainly “people who I know” rather than “people I interact with daily and/or love”.

Just saw this … http://saintsal.com/facebook/

Is anybody aware of a better “What I am leaving Facebook” summary of the issues which I can use as a parting information-shot for my connections?


This is as Jeremy (Top Gear) would put it, leaving on a bomb-shell ( message to the censors: this is a figure of speech ) Massive, both in content as in volume actually, but ever so good,

I don’t have a facebook account and the only reason I would ever consider having one is to put this link on it ( just joking, even that does not compensate )

Well done, congratulations, you just took the red pil. And no: the real world is not even close to the one depicted in the matrix.
It is still green, beautiful and full of possibilities, We just need to make sure we do not give up our democratic freedoms by clicking yes to any old TOS.

In fact we should set up a TOU, Terms Of USAGE. Which would mean that the User sets the standards to wich the application must uphold if it wants to be used. And a total ban on data theft would definitively be the very first article.


Do you really need to explain much? Will they understand?

And what alternative are you offering them if you make them feel bad about FB?

IMHO you will polarize them even more - read - make them even more attached to FB.

My advice, just go.

When I left FB I just put 3 notices at 2 weeks apart in my stream that I am leaving FB along with my phone and email.

Then I closed it.


Both ways seem to work as both of you are off it.
Quietly leaving is no doubt a wise way because the polarisation is very real indeed.
Then again the true problem here is not facebook, it is the ignorance about what facebook and alikes are doing.
And enlightening people will never occur without explanation, sound motivation and repetition.
Good examples of abuse are also priceless, The NHS story is very effective…


“Will they understand?”

Yes. I’m sure they will. My friends are pretty savvy and techie in the main, and I don’t think that many of them will think “Why on earth would you leave Facebook?” Not much risk of polarization. I even have a couple of friends who work at Facebook.

So it’s more a matter of seeing if there some top-drawer articles to point them at while the topic is “hot”. I’ve used the Camera Panopticon too.

I am offering no alternative because I don’t think there is anything which is comparable to Facebook (or at least nothing with sufficient adoption to be worthwhile).

I really hope that we will have strong decentralized alternatives in the years to come. It’s why I am here, and it’s why I work for the Ethereum Foundation.


I love the idea of having a definitive article explaining the harms and why you’re leaving. It makes it more than the attention-seeking “I’m leaving Facebook/Twitter because signal-noise-ratio/lack of meaning/real friends don’t need social networks” nonsense. Though I can’t think of an existing link that I’d use. Maybe when I have a little more time, I should work on this!

I’d also like to see similar articles for why people are:

  • Leaving/changing email address from Gmail/Hotmail
  • Leaving Skype
  • Leaving Google+ (is anyone on Google+?!)
  • Leaving LinkedIn

Can anyone else add to this list? I think my focus is on socially-connected tools.

We’d have a better job at convincing people to build and use alternatives if we attached social stigma to using these people farming “services”. I genuinely believe social stigma is one of the greatest tools we have in affecting the mainstream.


“is anyone on Google+?”


I imagine that the primary reason for leaving is “I don’t even remember signing up for this in the first place” :slight_smile:


Selling of your data to third parties without your consent would nicely fit any one of them right ?


Google actually signed everyone who had a Google account (so had ever accessed any Google services) up to a Google+ account in a desperate attempt to gain a user base*.

*the story behind my own Google+ account…


Yes. But most people want to know specifics and case studies in order to really understand the problem.


In my case the very first trigger was Aral’s talk where the topic of the silicon-valley business model arose:
What made watsapp worth 19 Billion dollars to facebook ?
How do these guys make money ?
And that pretty much clinched the deal for me.

The most spectacular case I will be referring to is the ROYAL NHS story.

And the real question will be:

If you, me, anyone had all this data and associated insider knowledge and knew you could get away with pretty much anything … would you be able to resist the temptation to nudge destiny a bit in your favor ?

It is a bit like the “Button, Button” story by Richard Matheson. ( In the end nobody can resist )


What do you think the best summary of the Royal NHS story is, Johan?


WhatsApp did not had to resist the urge to be acquired, the were designed to be acquired. I saw one of the first interviews with the founders after selling - I can’t find it now in the ocean of video. They had investors that specially modeled their business to be bought, investors that worked closely to FB, and I felt form interview that Mark had a thing for those investors.

WhatsApp founder declared that he flew specially to Spain at a conference to meet with Mark, because that if the deal did not went trough that week, they would probably miss the train.


Yes, and that is the common story for nearly every corporation, isn’t it?

As Aral has said, the well is poisoned from the very start, by venture capital which wants its pound of flesh in the form of a liquidation event. That would nearly always be either an acquisition or an IPO.

Ideally you would want any startup to become self-funding, such that partners who wanted their money back could be repaid their original stake from corporate profits - either share buy-back by the corporation, or by the actual founders buying the shares from their personal profits. I wouldn’t dare to make a guess at how rare that likely is. Maybe never?

Given the gigantic market caps of the monster tech companies (Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft are seemingly #1, #2 and #3 now of market cap for all corporations worldwide, with Amazon at #6), and the resources at their disposal, aiming for an acquisition is by far the most likely way for any startup to “succeed”.

It sucks …


Personal patient medical historical and actual data is being transferred to google on a massive scale, Individual identifiers included,
The document literaly states that as this data will be used for direct patient care purposes pseudonimisation is not required.
If I were a patient I would expect to be informed and to be able to opt-out of this ‘research’ project,
The document seems to be set up with the intention of limiting the liberties of google in relation to the data but even so then it all boils down to whether google is to be trusted or not.
And that is a decision the individual to whom the data refers should have, right ?


Eesh. Glad that I am no longer a UK resident, as I am sure are Aral and Laura and Jo!


This is not the first time the UK has made a mess of medical data, but it may well be the most dangerous so far.

In the case of care.data, we (UK NHS patients) were given the opportunity to opt out of the database, but they did not properly inform the patients of this choice, they [allowed various insurers and others](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10753001/NHS-blunders-put-millions-of-records-at-risk.html (with no understand of security) access to the database), and just made a mess of the whole situation. Ben Goldacre writes and speaks well of the potential of such datasets if managed properly, and why care.data fails.

Also, whilst we no longer reside in the UK, I’m still a UK citizen (and thus NHS number holder) and so my data will probably being shared sooner or later… :thumbsup:


Just read the article, this is an interesting point:

The records will be pseudonymised, which means the identifiable data
has been taken out. Instead, it will just contain the patient’s age
range, gender and area they live in.
However, researchers can apply for those safeguards to be lifted in
exceptional circumstances, such as during an epidemic. This will need
the permission of the health secretary.

In short: totally reverseable even without correlated datasets.

Summarising: It was all taken as identifiable data because it is related to direct patient care.It then becomes ( very-reverseably ) pseudonymised ( I’m not even clear on how that can be done ) so the patients can be better identified during an epidemic ?

Just wondering what ‘exceptional circumstances’ would really refer to,
stock value dropping for someone maybe ?

Or just imagine the possibilities for personalised advertising by the pharmaceutical industry
they can make billions on stuff like this.

@laura: yeah… that already happened when it went from NHS to google,

Otherwise I give a big thumbsup to Ben Goldacre who sums it up perfectly.


Also, the UK has the Electoral Roll which is near-enough publicly available. When care.data is held against this dataset, it is easily de-anonymised.


Proves Aral’s point that where-ever political decisions are being made relative to data capturing and processing there is a catastrophic lack of understanding what the implications and ramifications of these decisions are.

Politics needs an urgent intravenous infusion of IT know-how of the NON lobbyist kind and a wicked ( political ) whipping of being held acountable for the damages already done.

Then again which bright minded IT guy/girl ( who probably can get a job in a silicon-valley unicorn ) would want to get into the murky waters of politics ?

Also it is unfair to hold ignorence against the not so IT-bright individuals that do wind up in politics, Smarts is the one thing you cannot buy and a ‘smart’ device kinda shows your missing it in the first place.

In my opinion the ingredient that has gone missing is respect. ( as your manifesto beautifully manifests )

The desire to be respected however is omnipresent and therefore everybody should be able to understand what it means to be respectful to someone else.

That being said: Spying is by definition a blatant lack of respect, making a business-model out of it is loathsome.

Any type of use of personal data without consent of the person or ‘sharing’ of it with other parties should be penalised.
( But also people could be a lot less generous in ‘sharing’ their life and data on the public domain )