Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's lonely on the internet

I quit facebook about a week ago. On Friday my account (and probably my fan page) will become defunct.
There's quite a few reasons why - the last straw wasn't so much a last straw as a reevaluation of the Case Against Facebook, namely:
  • Their privacy policies towards your data have changed without notice, and FB will change it again without telling you
  • They take licensing rights when you upload a picture - they can profit off of your party photos if they figure out how
  • Those party photos are ridiculously incriminating evidence, delete those tags! Too bad others can tag you without you opting in, huh?
  • That party you went to, you didn't get there through a FB invite. Jesus those things suck.
  • They're in a low-level ground war with their content providers like Twitter - the crappy implementation in Facebook is no accident. They're trying to squeeze out anyone that's not Facebook from grabbing eyes.
  • Why is FB free? They're compiling a dossier of data on you unparalleled in the internet era. Who your "friends" are - and it's not just dead data. It's who you actually interact with. What pages you visit. What photos you click on. What shows you Like. What articles you click through. What apps you play. It's comprehensive and a difficult data stream to poison with "fake facts" because all of your connections reinforce the story of You.
  • Who's the customer of that data? Marketing firms, sure. But it's the CIA's wet dream, that's certain.
  • They hired a PR firm to spread concerns about Google's privacy issues. That's like Ted Bundy hiring a PR firm to smear OJ Simpson. We're pretty sure Google's done it, but Facebook's buried bodies all over California and New England.
Ultimately, it came down to a few simple facts. Yes, Facebook is easy to use. Yes Facebook let's me maintain shallow relationships with a ton of people, and is an invaluable marketing tool (not really, we'll come to that). It is a lot more fun than twitter when it comes to posting quips and bon mots; you can interact with other people to a far greater degree.
But the cost is too high, and the "big idea" - a social gathering place online - existed before Facebook and will continue on past its demise. Ask MySpace.
So I quit. I can be found here from now on - www.goingtharn.com. I'm consolidating my technical page here as well. There's no reason to Super-Hero it up with a secret identity as a programmer. I'm a funny fucking programmer who swears too much. I'm also damned good at my job. The shit I write about shouldn't preclude me from work.

Because that "Facebook's a great marketing tool" is a fallacy. Your own website is a great marketing tool. Facebook could be a venue that you market it on, but it shouldn't be the source of your internet presence. Nor should twitter, nor MySpace, nor anywhere that's proprietary. The real beauty of the internet is that anyone can tend a garden here. All the tools are free, and the knowledge is out there for you to buy or learn.
And if you build it yourself - well, Facebook doesn't get to take it away for violating the terms of service.
The AppStore doesn't get to pull your site.
OK, Google can destroy your search indexing and completely obliterate your existence. But Google's OJ and we're pretty sure he was innocent of murder.

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