Wednesday, September 7, 2011

End of a (Facebook) Era

So Facebook's online security sucks, in case anybody reading this recently crawled out of the primordial ooze under their favorite cozy rock and didn't already know. I'm kind of amazed at what I have thus far been willing to put up with in the name of Having Internet Friends, including whining to my husband until he fixed my computer over and over again when it crashed from the rampant viruses. (I thought buying an antivirus would, you know, protect against viruses, but Ryan informs me that hackers are sophisticated SOBs that actually deliberately find loopholes and margins in antivirus programs, and find devious and sneaky ways to still infect your computer. JERKS.) But then somebody honest to goodness hacked my account. I received an email notification that someone had logged in from somewhere where I definitely do not live, and that they recommended that I change my password.

CHANGE MY PASSWORD?? Their internet security sucks so much that someone who doesn't even know me was able to access my account, and they think changing my password will make me feel all safe and bubbly again? How about fixing their encryption and hiring an antihacker team to protect their customers' privacy with all that money they're making from selling our information to every marketing company on the PLANET?

But I have absolutely zero confidence that anything of that sort is in the works for Facebook, which is notorious for hoarding information under fuzzy small type about who actually owns it and changing its terms of use and privacy settings with no courtesy notification so that suddenly they have the right to publish your list of favorite songs and most commonly discussed topics all over the internet with no consent from you, and when you take them to task for it, they say, "No, no, we don't! your security is important to us! See? You can go to your security settings and opt out of it at any time!"


And here's the thing: it's not even that I care about the information I chose to share on the internet being available on the internet. I have a blog, for goodness sake. (Ryan: And now Big Brother knows that you have a baby and that you're pregnant again! Me: HELLO? Social Security Administration? SoonerCare? THEY ALREADY DID.) But if I chose not to share information with the world (such as my personal email, which I had to give Facebook to have an account, and which they decided to put on my public profile in defiance of my privacy settings just by conveniently changing their interface), or if I wished to use the internet to communicate semi-privately with someone and didn't wish to suddenly have all my conversations plastered on my friends' homepages where they wouldn't even need to go to the trouble of stalking me to find them, Facebook said, SCREW YOU, WE WILL DECIDE WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR INFORMATION. And by the way, you can't even close out your account, because we will keep all your information and continue to use it however we see fit, and if you ever have a momentary relapse, you'll find it all there safe and sound, ready to suck you back into the vortex of social networking obsession. We will make it as hard as humanly possible for you to delete your account, but we'll pretend on our sign-up page that it's easy by conveniently calling it "deactivation" instead of "deletion."

Muahahahaha, Mark Zuckerberg chuckles over his steepled fingers.

By the way, Steven Mansour claims that there are exactly 2504 steps to closing your Facebook account. After working all day to close mine, I think he may have forgotten one or two. And all Ryan and I accomplished was deleting my photos, friends, pages, groups, and two months of status updates. Gah.

In case anybody didn't realize the severity of this situation, let me clarify that I have to hand-delete FIVE YEARS of status updates one by one, curser on the x and click. Repeat. Ad infinitum.

To compare, all I have to do to delete every Blogger post I've ever written is to click the "delete blog" button.

Which brings me to my solution to the problem: Google-based social networking, because Google lets me retain ownership of my information, and if I decide that they don't deserve access to it anymore, they let me delete it. So they use it in the meantime to put ads on my sidebar. Meh. If that's the cost of a free service, I really don't care. I just want the right to decide what I share, and to be able to change my mind later and be assured that it's gone.

I'm kind of in mourning for my Facebook account. I have five years of my life there. I have (had) an extensive network of friends and acquaintances, most of whom I occasionally stalked, but some of whom I  actually really enjoyed conversations with. Not all those people are on Google+, and most of those on Google+ aren't talking very much yet. Living in the middle of nowhere, Facebook was a very important source of social interaction for me. But my security is more important. All I can do now is try to convert people to Google+ so that I can have updates to obsessively check again.

Please, Google, don't get too greedy for your own good. Google+ and Blogger have my current loyalty because of your security policy. I will delete all my information from Facebook if it takes me a month, and if you go the way of Zuckerberg, don't think I won't do it to you too.

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