Recently, Facebook has been front-and-center in the news, concerning the data they collect on their subscribers. It was reported that, during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a company connected with the Trump campaign was allowed access to a huge amount of personal data maintained by Facebook.
This Facebook news got me thinking about what Facebook was saving about me. I started looking at my own Facebook account to see what was there. I discovered that I had joined Facebook 8 years ago in 2010. That was so long ago, I had forgotten how long I have been on Facebook. I started digging around my account and found that I had hundreds of photos that were visible to anyone who went to my account online. I also had thousands upon thousands of posts, likes, shares, tags, and so on. These individual items spanned all the way back to 2010. Like many Facebook users, I didn’t consider the fact that everything I was doing on Facebook was being saved, and I mean everything.
I had considered purging what wasn’t relevant to what is going on today. I discovered that it wasn’t that simple. Facebook clearly doesn’t want you to delete stuff. There was no setting allowing the bulk deletion of individual activity items. Over about 2 hours, I began systematically deleting photos, clearing search histories and location histories. Yes, every time I checked in somewhere, all the way back to 2010, there was a notation of that in my Facebook account.
This morning, there was a segment on the Today Show on NBC about this topic. After watching the segment, I learned that there is no way to delete things in the Activity Log unless they are delete one-by-one. That was discouraging. The report stated Facebook issued a statement that they would be making it easier for users to delete their content. My question is, why did they make so difficult to delete content in the first place?
Ultimately, after reading a number of articles online, I came to the conclusion that the only way to delete stuff was to completely delete my account. It felt a little odd contemplating the complete deletion of my Facebook account. After all, I had been using Facebook for 8 years and there are people I maintain contact with through Facebook. However, when I looked at the totality of all of the people listed as friends on my account, I came to the conclusion that most of the people listed as “friends” were people I hadn’t had contact with in years. Many were people I had worked with during my working career. Most of them were people who likely don’t hold the same political views as I hold. I could not come up with a good reason to continue my Facebook account.
When you tell Facebook to delete, it doesn’t delete stuff right away. Photos are deleted in 90 days. When the command is sent to Facebook to delete an entire account, a notice advises you that your account will still be there for 2 weeks and that you can go back in and reactivate it, should you choose to do so. Well, hopefully, in 2 weeks, I will be gone from Facebook. I already feel a sense of relief. Now, when I go some place, I won’t feel the conflict of whether or not to check-in on Facebook. Freedom feels pretty good.