Why I Am Leaving Facebook and Instagram

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This evening I finally made a decision. Last summer, I had shared VR pioneer Jaron Lanier’s 10 arguments for deleting your social media accounts on my blog, but I decided at the time that, while Facebook was evil, it was a necessary evil, a way to promote my blog and to stay connected with other people in exchange for being data-mined and sold to advertisers, and therefore I stayed put.

But after reading the latest New York Times report on how Facebook allowed other companies to access its users’ private information without their knowledge or consent, it was the last straw for me:

For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.

The special arrangements are detailed in hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times. The records, generated in 2017 by the company’s internal system for tracking partnerships, provide the most complete picture yet of the social network’s data-sharing practices. They also underscore how personal data has become the most prized commodity of the digital age, traded on a vast scale by some of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.

The exchange was intended to benefit everyone. Pushing for explosive growth, Facebook got more users, lifting its advertising revenue. Partner companies acquired features to make their products more attractive. Facebook users connected with friends across different devices and websites. But Facebook also assumed extraordinary power over the personal information of its 2.2 billion users — control it has wielded with little transparency or outside oversight.

Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.

The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.

I strongly urge you to go to the New York Times website (using the link above) and read the entire article. This is the latest of several damning exposés by the New York Times and other news media on just how much we have been abused—yes, I said, abused—by a social network where we are the product to be bought and sold.

I am fed up. I have had enough. And I am fighting back the only way I can: by shutting down my Facebook and Instagram accounts and deleting all of the data that Facebook has gathered on me. Here’s a link to another New York Times article that gives step-by-step instructions on how to do this. Here’s another article by Consumer Reports.

When am I doing this? At the end of the year. It will give me a couple of weeks to let everybody know, and for me—and them—to set up alternate arrangements to communicate with me, if they wish to do so outside of Facebook.

How is this going to impact me? Well, the biggest thing that I use Facebook for right now is to promote my blog in various Second Life and virtual reality communities on Facebook. I can find other ways to do that. I have also used Facebook to keep in touch with a wide range of real-life and online friends. I will find other ways to stay in touch with people.

As for Instagram, well, I barely use that anyways, so it won’t be any big loss.

But I have finally decided that enough is enough, that Facebook is no longer a necessary evil, but a true evil. And I will longer support it or participate in it, after the end of this year. I will continue to use and support the Oculus VR hardware. But I will no longer use any social media operated by Facebook (that includes Facebook Spaces, the incredibly lame social VR app they launched over a year ago). Using Facebook Spaces requires you to have a Facebook account, so it gets ditched as well. No great loss there either.

I will also be boycotting any service which requires me to have a Facebook/Instagram account to use it. (Thank God, I didn’t use Facebook to log into other websites whenever they offered that as an option. I always went the personal username/email and password route instead. That means that untangling myself from Facebook should be much easier for me.)

It’s going to be an adjustment. I’m going to miss communicating with many of you on Facebook and via Messenger. You and I are going to have to find other, better ways to communicate. Like email, texting/SMS, Skype, FaceTime and the telephone. Like this blog and its comments section. Like my new Discord server. I have lots of options available for you to get ahold of me.

I will be giving up traffic from Facebook to my blog, which was significant but not irreplaceable. I will find other places to promote my blog, other ways to let people know what I’m doing. You can sign up to get blog updates via email (see the left-hand-side panel, under FOLLOW RYANSCHULTZ.COM VIA EMAIL, right under the eight social media buttons). And I’ll be turning off a couple of those social media buttons, too.


Good-bye, Facebook. It’s been a fun 13 years. But I no longer trust you, and I’m leaving, and I’m deleting my account and all my data before I go.

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10 thoughts on “Why I Am Leaving Facebook and Instagram”

  1. I feel similarly in spite of the lack of action on my part. And it is simply that Ethos is a pseudonym that I do not feel a sense of urgency to leave FB. Ethos does not buy anything or endorse or discuss products on line and except for appearing as a Friend to some of my SL and Sansar Friends, I am a fictional character. Yes, I am breaking the rules of FB. But I am being true to myself.

    And the real person behind Ethos is a rather bland character on FB. I post a few photos that have no people in them. So facial recognition does not work on my photos. I do not post any recognizable places that would tell anyone where I travel. I do not mention events that I am going to in the future or have been to in the past. Again I am not much of a gold mine to the big data miners. I have never posted on Instagram. Again, safe at home!

    The biggest issue for me on FB is the fact that some career related businesses and professional communities have chosen unwisely to use FB Groups to be there place for discussions as if it is a type of platform to be used as a forum. (And it fails miserably as a forum platform.) They are labeled as Closed Groups (or is it a Private Groups?), but I am unsure FB and their partners do not already read every post. The issue for me with those groups is that in order to join them while isolating my personal profile from my fellow business associates, I must create one more FB profile that I use in my professional life. I have a general disdain for FB when it is used as a business tool to promote myself as a professional.

    One last comment about FB and their unethical practices. I am constantly bombarded by their self-promotional Bot with clearly deceitful messages. They message me to say that I have a conversation on their Messenger app when I do not even have Messenger loaded on my phone. They know this and want me to load Messenger onto my phone when I am perfectly happy with my phone service’s SMS. And can you imagine what the “Conversation” was that was so urgent that they had to tell me? It was indeed a push marketing message from FB itself promoting Messenger. I did not reply.

    Happy Trails.

  2. I deleted it after the first scandal. I missed it at first but that didn’t last long. Now I just use Reddit for mindless scrolling and YouTube for bite sized entertainment and it’s enough.

  3. Good luck Ryan! I deleted FB after the Cambridge Analytical scandal. It isn’t an immediate deletion. I still got FB related emails for a couple of months. It takes discipline to see this through because FB friends will send you a message that you can’t read without a FB account and that will try to get you to join. So, stay the course and IGNORE anything that involves FB.

  4. I’m the one that never joined Facebook or Instagram or a host of others. I may have been disadvantage by it but I don’t feel it. I do use Google plus because I already had a blogspot for my blog and they allow pseudonyms – in my case my avatar name. And I used my avatar name on Twitter too. Basically, I have always guarded my real life identity but that hasn’t stopped me from communicating and staying in touch with friends and family. They know who I am.

    There is also Tor and Brave to help make it harder for the corporate Big Brother scum to track you and scam you. And now we have blockchain and decentralized virtual worlds to take things to a whole new level that empowers the individual and helps genuinely to protect their privacy.

    And, of course, now that G+ is to close we all (Opensim Users) have moved to MeWe that promises never to sell personal data.

  5. I closed my original FB profile back in 2015, but ended up coming back in 2016, albeit with a lot less personal stuff on there. There are some good things, like the support groups I belong to, but it feels like FB will do everything in its power to ruin those as well. I stopped using their mobile apps and only access the website on my Mac using a dedicated browser extension to hide all of the clutter and unwanted extras.

    My father is terminally ill, and I’ve been acting as primary carer for his this past year. He’s now receiving end-of-life care. It has made me think a lot about how I live my life, both online and offline. So I’m going to close and delete my FB profile in the New Year. I have a WordPress blog for my SL identity, which has helped me deal with my father’s illness to some extent.

    I tried G+, but it didn’t really work out for me. Twitter? I tried that twice, and not going back, it’s an even bigger time-sink for me than FB. Tumblr lost me when they started turning the screws on adult blogs. But for now, blogging is going to be my priority. I’ve learnt my lesson – don’t rely on other folk’s platforms to host your words and pictures.

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