Deactivated my Facebook account

Definition of "oxymoron": Facebook privacy.

Until the Facebook people get their act together (or change their leadership), or until another website/service comes along to compete with what Facebook was offering (before all their privacy screwups), I've decided to go back to the old way of communicating with my friends, and I've deactivated my Facebook account.

If you don't like what Facebook is doing with your privacy -- and the privacy of your friends -- I encourage you to deactivate your account as well. This can be a good form of protest against their actions, and you can also send a message to the Facebook powers that be on the way out. (Note that this isn't the same as deleting your account, so if they ever get their act together, you can go back and log into your account again.)

My history with Facebook

My problem with Facebook has to do with where they are now, compared to where they were when I joined in 2007. Back then, Facebook seemed like this cozy little place where I could share information with my friends in a private forum. Short of security glitches, there were no concerns about whatever we wrote going public, and it all felt like having a chat room between friends.

Of course in the last few years this has all changed, and it now feels like I'm sitting on a stage, and anything I write may eventually be seen by millions of people. Well, I already have that capability, and it's called a blog. So why do I need Facebook? Answer: I don't.

(On a related note, here is a link to my story on The facts about Facebook privacy.)

Facebook privacy and a lesson learned a long time ago

All of the recent stories about Facebook privacy, and about Mr. Zuckerberg's character (the Facebook privacy and trust issue), bring to mind something I was told before I became a Unix administrator 20 years ago. Before my boss would give me the root password, he gave me a lecture, and it went like this:

As a Unix system administrator, you are "god" on these systems. You can read anything anyone writes, whether it be in their personal files, email messages, whatever. Before I give you the root password, you must swear to me that you will never look at anyone's personal information unless there is a security concern.

Also, if you happen to see someone's personal information in the process of debugging a problem, you must never discuss that information with anyone else, unless it is a security matter, in which case you only discuss it with the right people.

I'll never forget that lecture, and the promise I made way back then. It made sense then, and it makes sense now.

Suffice it to say, I think Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg in particular, need to take a similar pledge.

The Centralization problem

Before going, I'll say this: My major, major problem with Facebook is that as you post various tidbits about your life, you're giving one company a lot of information about who you are. That would be a dangerous thing to do with the most benevolent company in the world, but with a company whose moral values are being questioned on a daily basis, it's even more dangerous.

I'd much rather see a scenario where everyone has their information scattered -- decentralized -- and then there would be a nice way to aggregate that information between friends. So in that regard, I look forward to how these systems evolve over the coming years.

Until then, I'm back to the old way of communicating between friends.