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Facebook Quit Day - A Discussion With Its Creator | ploked.com

Facebook Quit Day – A Discussion With Its Creator

May 18th, 2010 |

About

Soaking in the world and spitting it out, one blog post at a time. Consider me the Clark Kent of web stories without the cool glasses, the fancy suit and, well, the muscles.

In the past several weeks, Facebook has come under fire after widely publicizing changes in privacy settings. With over 400 million users in its grasp and the Internet seemingly bowing down to its every need, this negative publicity must be making Facebook a little uncomfortable, and it’s just getting worse. In April, New York Senator Chuck Schumer asked the Federal Trade Commission to check out the privacy guidelines of Facebook. There are now a growing number of users who are leaving Facebook for good. So far 1,605 people have signed up for Facebook Quit Day on May 31st. Here I interview Matthew Milan, one of the creators of the group. He currently runs his own company that specializes in the strategic side of interaction design for the web and devices.

SR: Who is behind the movement and how did it get started?

MM: The frustration people have with Facebook that you’re are calling a movement [I don’t see it that way] has been developing for a long time. Joe Dee and I didn’t look to start a revolt as some have suggested, we just put a URL to a notion that was on the mind of a lot of people right now.  We reached a point where we didn’t feel comfortable being on Facebook anymore, and decided to be open about why we we’re leaving.

What was your biggest issue with Facebook?

While I believe it’s acceptable for organizations to collect and use comprehensive personal data from individuals, they must do it in a way that 1) Gives individuals fair choices to decide how that data is used, and 2) Is done with the intent of serving the best interests of current (and future) society as a whole.

Since Facebook is not doing either of these (and is, in fact, heading rapidly in the other direction), I’m no longer interested in maintaining a presence of any type on the site. If a company doesn’t consider information sustainability in their designs, they are not creating any long term value for humanity. For me, my frustration with Facebook wasn’t about privacy – privacy is a symptom of some emerging bigger issues, which most of us can’t clearly articulate yet. We latch on to privacy as the main concern because it’s an issue we can all directly relate to.

Do you think we have become too open on the Internet?

No. I’m personally quite comfortable with being open on the internet, and I think the people should have the choice to act online just as the act in meatspace. If you want to be private, that’s your choice and your right. If you want to be public, that’s also your choice and your right.

Users are going to be missing out on the largest social networking site, how can they compensate for that?

Well, I personally don’t see it as missing out. I was using the web socially across everything from IRC to Flickr before I started using Facebook, and I’ve got a multitude of options now. Many people are used to going to Facebook for everything, and they won’t be able to compensate with just one single site – they’ll need to branch out and use a range of resources.

I’ve always seen Facebook like high school – it’s a tight, well integrated interaction framework, where you can easily connect with everyone you know or want to know about. It’s not the whole world though and, quite frankly, if you spent your entire life living in the high school environment, you’d become rather socially stunted. It’s not a bad thing to get out and see what else is out there once in a while.

What does Facebook have to do to win you back?

I’m not interested in them winning me back – I don’t get a lot of utility from Facebook and can’t see what they could do to convince me that they were doing anything differently in the future. Honestly, I’d have to see the value of spending time on there AND know that my data and information was being treated with respect and dignity.

What are some good things about being FB free?

I don’t feel like my “information shadow” is being whored out indiscriminately for the rest of eternity. That’s a pretty good one for me.

There are a lot of people against you (pro-FBers), any words for them?

There are always opposing viewpoints, and this is a good thing. For people who don’t agree with my views on Facebook, I encourage them to continue to develop their own position based on a solid understanding of the topic at hand. Having a well formed opinion is the best way for people to make the right decisions on issues like these.  I strongly believe in the reasoning behind my desire to quit Facebook, but I’d rather see people disagree with me intelligently than follow me blindly.

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Sunil Ramsamooj