Recent events have convinced TechMan to do something I have been mulling over for a while — quitting Facebook.
There are good things about Facebook.
Since I grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania, the social media site allowed me to stay in touch with friends from high school and former co-workers from the newspaper there. It allowed me to commune with college friends in far-flung locales, to see pictures of their grandkids.
But three recent events have put me over the edge.
First is Facebook’s own report that says in the first three months of this year it disabled about 583 million fake accounts, many of those established by bots, Russian or otherwise, used to spread fake news. Cnet points out that the California-based company estimates about 3 percent to 4 percent of accounts on the website still are fake, which with Facebook’s huge user base is about 66 million fake accounts.
The social media site also took down 837 million spam posts, 21 million pieces of adult nudity and sexual activity; 3.5 million pieces of violent content; and 2.5 million pieces of hate speech. Talk about draining the swamp.
Then Facebook last week put out the “good news” that it was just 30 million accounts that were hacked recently, not 50 million as originally thought.
That broke down this way: 15 million users had their name and contact info (phone number and/or email) compromised while another 14 million lost that and their gender, Facebook username, location, language, relationship status, hometown, religion, current area of residence, birthdate, devices used to access Facebook, work, education, and more. The final million lost no data.
This is in addition to the site selling or giving access to your personal information to outside groups -— data that could be used, among other things, to try to influence elections, as shown by the now famous Cambridge Analytica case.
Finally, a New York Times report this week said that Myanmar military personnel were responsible for turning the social network into a tool for ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority group, 700,000 of whom fled the country in a year. United Nations officials have called it “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
The military’s social media campaign has been spreading fake news, fake pictures of massacres by Muslims and rumors of pending jihadi attacks for half a decade. Facebook has taken down some accounts but use of the site is extensive in Myanmar and has far reach, the report said.
So because Facebook is a conduit for fake news, plays fast and loose with my personal information, and is used for heinous purposes by renegade governments, I no longer wish to be a member.
I am disabling my account at first instead of killing it immediately. Turns out deleting your account can cause problems with apps that use it and places where you sign in with your Facebook credentials.
So I feel more virtuous now. But how will I wish happy birthday to that kid I haven’t seen since third grade?
Now, if you want to deactivate your Facebook account, here are the steps:
- Click the account menu down arrow at the top right of any Facebook page in your web browser.
- Select 'Settings'
- Choose 'General' in the left column.
- Click 'Manage your account'
- Press 'Deactivate your account', and then follow the steps to confirm your decision.