Data breaches, information leaks and misinformation, oh my!
Users are facing a multitude of factors influencing the debate on whether they should delete their Facebook accounts due to scandals involving the company.
A new wave of users decided Wednesday to leave the site for good following a New York Times report revealing that the social media giant shared users’ personal data with third-party sites such as Netflix, Spotify and Amazon.
“I remember simpler times, when my biggest facebook concern was whether I was tagged in that photo with my buddy’s bong visible in the background. Burn it down. #DeleteFacebook,” Twitter user @mjdono25 wrote.
“I decided to follow suit today. @facebook needs to make some serious changes in order to regain the trust of a great deal of users. A) Tackle foreign interference and misinformation campaigns. B) Don’t share my information. Enough is enough #DeleteFacebook,” Twitter user @Rico_Stave wrote.
Social media experts aren’t surprised users are throwing in the towel.
“Nobody who watches the industry is surprised by this,” said Karen North, Professor of digital media at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Many users began sharing instructions on how to delete accounts permanently — but other users argued simply deleting or deactivating an account does not solve the problem if their information has already been accessed by third-party platforms.
Jaron Lanier, Author of “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now,” said many users are often hesitant to delete their social media accounts because they are “addicted” — and Facebook itself may be addicted, too.
“Facebook’s actions are the worst in the industry. It’s not that they’re bad people… I think what it is, is they haven’t been able to integrate into their own minds that they’re damaging the world. It’s such a difficult message… In a way they’re addicted themselves,” Lanier said.
Lanier noted it can be difficult for people to delete their accounts. People often have years’ worth of pictures on the platform and friends from high school or around the globe that they were not able to connect with before the social media giant existed.
“Obviously deleting an account requires a degree of commitment and bravery in a way. It means you’re going to have to delete a portion of your life,” Lanier said.
Lanier — who does not have any social media accounts himself — believes deleting accounts will be instrumental in mankind’s survival.
“When you realize the whole world’s being driven by this stuff, that politics have gone haywire… That people are acting out of a sense of paranoia and irritation that isn’t rational… I think a lot of people are scared that it’s our own doing… What they don’t realize is it’s their own personal lives it affects,” Lanier said.
“I don’t think you can have a civilization survive that has people in this system… it’s a recipe for disaster for civilizational collapse.”
Even if users delete their Facebook account, the social media behemoth owns a multitude of other platforms — including Instagram and Whatsapp.
North said Facebook’s actions have been contradicted by numerous statements amid scandals involving privacy breaches and data mining.
“I think the thing that has given fuel to the fire is that Facebook has been so public in its very strong statements in concerns for our privacy, and that it has been hypocritical,” North said.
Facebook may not have violated any laws or its own privacy policies — that will be decided by courts — but it still creates trust problems for users because it is ”misleading.”
“People don’t like to be tricked. Even if we’ve agreed to it, we feel like we’ve stabbed in the back. It’s like catching a friend in the lie… It erodes the relationship that we have with Facebook,” North said.