Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

Summary: Does this mean that Facebook has truly grown to be a goliath force we can't live without, even if we're terrified of what it might do with our information?


Over the course of the last several weeks, several outraged Facebook users have taken to the web with declarations of quitting the service and trying to find another home. Some of them have even taken to the Facebook site itself to try and lobby for such a service (irony). The challenge, however, is that Facebook has become so ubiquitous -- so much that brands are using Facebook vanity URLs versus corporate sites in ads -- that there's nowhere else for these people to go without losing the networks they have built. At the same time, if they were really so outraged, wouldn't they just leave anyway? Apparently, it's not so easy for these screamers to put their actions where their mouths are.

I brought all of this up because today is apparently "Quit Facebook Day". If you haven't heard about it it's likely because no one you know is doing it. According to the web site aptly named "Quit Facebook Day," more than 31,000 people have pledged to quit Facebook today. That seems merely a blip compared to the amount of rage that has swept the web since the last explosion over Facebook's privacy tactics. More so, that's only about 0.07 percent of the social network's 400+ million users. Of course, many revolutions do start small, and only the data will tell at the end of the day whether or not people actually quit. Yet even many of the comments on the Quit Facebook Day site say things like, "I would quit but my friends and family use it" or "I won't quit, but sure this is a great idea."

So, what is the point of all of these people crying wolf?

In a press conference last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about how the company's leadership is indeed listening to its users about their apparent dissatisfaction. Granted, the company had little choice but to listen due to the international media attention it was getting and the poorly handled public relations nightmare that ensued, but Facebook quickly came forth with some changes that simplified the privacy administration for those who were finding it to be too difficult or confusing.  Zuckerberg also discussed how the company tracks users' reasons for leaving the site when they do, and claimed that privacy has rarely been at the top of the list. Not to mention, the site has continued to grow through all of the hoopla. Granted, there are many more fixes that Facebook needs to make, and the site is still questionable in its practices, but this "boycott" approach may be futile.

Does this mean that Facebook is indeed akin to Google, a goliath force that we can't live without, even if we're terrified of what it might do with our information? Or does this mean that not as many people are as willing to vote with their feet and move away from Facebook for fear of losing their networks? How powerful is social presence, anyway?

The "Quit Facebook Day" threat reminds me of a "TwitOut" that was scheduled just over two years ago in response to Twitter's then unreliable servers. A group of people tired of unreliability -- who also happened to be big fans of FriendFeed -- picked a date and asked their networks to tell Twitter that they weren't going to take it anymore and were taking their "business" elsewhere. Well, I thought that was kind of preposterous, and I even created a mockery at the same time called Twitter Love Day, and all in all the TwitOut was kind of a failure. Yes, it did give more visibility to the great service of FriendFeed, which unfortunately never came into the mainstream limelight before it was acquired by Facebook. But it was merely months after the TwitOut that Twitter really started to garner national attention from the media and from celebrity users who brought with them their legions of fans.

So, what is the point of all of this noise? I remember a lesson I learned in my early 20s. Usually, if people merely threaten to stop doing something, it means they really don't want to stop doing it. Those who are serious about a boycott will just boycott, and then try to bring others to follow them. By all means, if someone is not happy with Facebook's practices, he or she should delete or lock down their profiles. Yet many who are leading these boycotts never take the first steps themselves. And some threatening to leave Facebook for fear of lack of privacy are the same ones happily chatting on public Twitter feeds. Hypocrisy aside, rather than throw an online tantrum, why not organize people for positive change? Create a lobby for better privacy requirements for social networks across the board. Help educate readers and followers on ways that they can better protect themselves. But stop the whining. Unless your goal is to eventually get your network to leave you, there has to be a more positive way to impact change.

Image courtesy of Newsvetter's The Guhmshoo Gallery

Topics: Privacy, Google, Networking, Servers

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  • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

    Anyone who maintains a presence on Facebook with their real identity after the revelations of recent weeks deserves what he gets. The way to reward Mark Zuckerberg for his arrogance and casual attitude about personal information is to STAY with Facebook, but set up numerous fictitious identities, thus poisoning the database and making it useless for sale or rental.
    • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

      What exactly are you worried about? What is it I deserve?
      I like Facebook! I like how it connects me to my friends!
      Sure it's had some growing pains, but if you really think Internet privacy is an issue, then don't post your picture here in ZDNet! In fact, shut off your computer right now!!

      Really, to me it's a matter of people being indignant for the sake of being indignant. When push comes to shove, they like their Facebook drug and can't live without it! ;-)
      That's because it's actually fun and useful (IMHO).
      • the difference...

        @rossdav@... The difference is that here, you know that what you say is open to everybody who wants to, to read. Facebook gave the false promise of chatting among a few friends, only to publish them wholesale to anybody who wanted to listen.

        For the paranoid, who understood the privacy controls, it isn't a problem. For the unwashed masses, who wouldn't know a privacy control if it came up and slapped them (like their partner is likely to do, after they mistakenly post on Facebook, that they had a one night stand, thinking it only goes out to a couple of close friends), this is a nightmare which is waiting to happen (to them) and is being repeated time and again.

        Just look at the sites which are cropping up, exploiting this sort of thing - from Failbook to youropenbook.org. The average user hasn't a clue, what they are doing on Facebook and are shocked, when their partner leaves them, they lose a job or become a social pariah, because they didn't understand Facebook's privacy settings.
      • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

        @rossdav@... Aman!
      • RE: What exactly are you worried about? What is it I deserve?

        @rossdav@... My picture is not a picture of me; I'm logged in via a Facebook identity that's completely fictitious, so I'm not "worried". If Mr. Zuckerberg publishes personal information that you posted on Facebook and that information is subsequently used to commit identity theft, well, who are you going to blame? I've seen recent claims that anywhere from 1 in 20 to 1 in 5 Americans will suffer identity theft at some time in their lives. Even at the lower estimate, I don't like the odds.
    • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

      Exactly. I have a facebook account under an alternative name, minimal data, and anything personal that could be linked to my real identity is altered. My friends all know my FB name because I informed them privately. At first it was a little slower going, but once my network "got" my username, things progressed normally. Anyone wanting personal data about employment, education, personal tastes in movies, books, music, etc. are simply invited to ask me. I figure if you want to know, just ask. But being recently divorced, I wised up when my relationship status change generated tons of unwanted dating service ads. Now any data useful for data miners is either false or unavailable. No FB apps are approved, and I don't miss them and their massive time wasting notifications (I hide other people's app notifications from my newsfeed, so much cleaner...)
      • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

        @pdxflint Whats the point of having a "social" network if you have to hide your identity? Isn't the whole point of Facebook to interact with other people? I thought you were supposed to share you thoughts and likes with everyone. If you're afraid to share then be on Facebook at all?
      • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

        I do have a social network, made up of real people who know who I am, nickname notwithstanding. They are smart enough to "translate" my alter-ego name with the real me. My interactions are exactly the same as they would be with my "real" name. In fact, a fair number of my real "friends" don't show up under their actual given names, but we know who they are. The data miners, however, don't. Consider it a "code" where those social contacts who are trusted know what it means, and others, like nosy bosses, etc. don't. I don't have a problem with my intended social network having my real information, but I object to it being freely passed on to marketers and who knows who else. Why do you think the concept of approving "friends" even exists in the first place? For user controlled privacy. All I'm doing is retaining some of the privacy controls originally promised by FB, which is now history... Be my guest, and share all your data, including address, phone number, email, bio history with the world, but I'd prefer a little more safekeeping. It's common sense to me, but different strokes for different folks...
      • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

        @rkinne01 social is not placing your personal info, if you want to interact you do usually through direct messaging, commenting posts, discussions, etc what social have in adding static personal information, you want to find girls go to match.com or something
    • Facebook quitters sound an awefull lot like the

      @phil8192: Tea Partiers. Whine about this, whine about that, but when it comes to really doing what it takes to do it, they back off. So in this case, "Quit FB because the Privacy Settings suck" but then "I would but...." it is laughable.

      Like the Tea Party, "we need to fix the deficit, and reduce bureaucratic programs" the answer is of course eliminate entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare. TP response, "keep your socialist hands off my medicare" Oh the irony.
      • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

        @JM1981 You're using a tech bog to take a jab at the Tea Party? WTF?! Quite the opportunist, aren't you?
      • Re: Facebook quitters sound an awefull lot like the

        @JM1981 I actually deleted my Facebook account because it normally just sits there, disused, forwarding my Twitter posts. I'm not bothered a huge deal with the privacy, "issues" (I know what information I've given the WWW anyway), I just don't use it all that much. It's something I'd have to keep a full-screen window open and to sit watching/reading it for ages at a time for it to be useful, and that's just boring to me.
      • RE: Tea Party

        @JM1981 Did something happen while I was asleep? How did the Tea Party movement make it into this conversation?
      • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

        @Snooki_smoosh_smoosh <a href="http://www.riseuniversity.com/schools-majors/nursing/">Nursing school</a>
        <a href="http://www.riseuniversity.com/schools-majors/occupational-safety-and-fire-sciences/">fire science degree</a>
    • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

      @phil8192 correct! That is what should be done. I just find it ridiculous people had their real info on facebook in the first place, but I guess that defeats the purpose of a social network.
    • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

      One does not need to be a rocket scientist to know that real life is more important than pixels on a screen, more important then names on a screen belonging to people you do know now, you will never know and people that will never give a rat's ass about you. I quit facebook more then a month ago, well before this new hype about security, etc... well, i do not regret losing more then a thousand contacts, etc... The real friends i got are around me, we never needed facebook before, why would we need it now? I am so much better now.
      Take care
      • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

        @pongo2002 "The real friends i got are around me, we never needed facebook before, why would we need it now? "
        Interesting how true this is and how many people don't realize it. I have a FB account under one of my many pseudonyms (an old email trick to avoid personal ad attacks). Everyone who I want to know it, does. I get "friend" requests constantly from strangers and people I'd rather not connect with. My only reason to be on there is it's an easier way to stay in touch with family (Photos that aren't published elsewhere) and to watch my kids (college now). I did the facebook thing for awhile and it drove me nuts trying to keep up with all the worthless chatter. Like a chicken coop with all the cackling about "what I'm doing now" and all that crap. As if anyone would care. I have a private life that is nobody's business but mine. Certainly don't want it plastered all over the ethernet. I guess if you don't have a life, and you don't have real friends, and you don't really socialize, it's a kind of alternative. I prefer flesh and blood.
      • RE: Real life

        @pongo2002 My identity here and on Facebook aren't real, for a reason. If you haven't noticed, more and more sites are linking into global login schemes; all you do is supply an email address and its corresponding password, and, presto!, you're in, along with some avatar that you chose elsewhere months ago, EVEN IF YOU NEVER REGISTERED AT THAT PARTICULAR SITE. It's a great way to become the victim of identity theft. However, you can turn it around for your convenience and safety. Create a fictitious identity with a disposable or free email address and use THAT instead of your real email to log in and comment on sites like this. Ultimately, it saves the bother of having to remember so many logins and passwords. Personally, I couldn't give a rip for "contacts" and "friends" on sites like Facebook.
  • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

    @John Pruitt Leo LaPorte is one of the people leading the quit Facebook charge. As of today, he is still there.
    Jennifer Leggio
    • RE: Facebook 'Quitters': The kids who cried wolf?

      @Jennifer Leggio Sorry Mrs. Leggio, Leo *did* delete his personal fackbook account which was: http://www.facebook.com/lglaporte

      The one that's on FB is a fake.