Three Years Later: #DeleteFacebook

In Dec 2014, I published a post “Why I’m breaking up with Facebook”. Breaking up with Facebook, though, proved more challenging than I expected.

This week, in March 2018, Facebook’s abuse of user trust has spurred a new campaign from Elon Musk, Brian Acton, and thousands of others to #DeleteFacebook. Acton, the co-founder of Whatsapp, became a billionaire when he sold Whatsapp to Facebook in 2014.

Why is it so hard to #DeleteFacebook? 

I believe it’s super hard to #DeleteFacebook for two reasons.

1) The cost of being on Facebook is hard to measure so we underestimate it. Imagine if your newsfeed told you – “Hey, you spent 18 hours or 6 enjoyable dinner dates on Facebook this month.” or your newsfeed told you – “Hey, we know you’re 98% likely to start a new relationship with Alex, the person you met at the party last week.” (1, 2). These costs would concern us.

2) It’s near impossible to find substitute services or products to replace the benefits we get from FB. Imagine you just moved cities to start an exciting new opportunity and are looking for a roommate; To my knowledge, there is no substitute for ‘crowdsourcing’ this question to your Facebook network!

So, to understand how hard it is to #DeleteFacebook, let’s compute the cost/benefit relationship.

  • Define: A = max ( Benefit from Facebook – Cost of Facebook)
  • Define: B = max (Benefit from Substitute(s) – Cost of Substitute(s))  
  • If A > B, keep Facebook.
    Else, #DeleteFacebook. *

Let 

  • Social utility (SU) refer to creating new friendships, maintaining existing friendships, establishing trust, solving social-life issues, andmore
  • Professional utility (PU) refer to career development, expanding one’s network, receiving conference invitations, learning from other’s ideas,, and more
  • Time saved (TS) refer to activities that save you time via Facebook. E.g. “login with facebook”, “communication via Whatsapp or FB Messenger”, coordinating events with friends, strangers, mutual friends, and more
  • Privacy (P) refer to telling Facebook my interests, my network of contacts, and my preferences. For example, Facebook knows if i’m looking for a new house or car or plane tickets, and more
  • Time (T) refers to time wasted on facebook.
  • Wellbeing (W)

Then,

  • Benefit Derived = SU + PU + T
  • Cost Derived = P + T  + W

We can define many substitutes like LinkedIn, Email, Yahoo Groups (?), Telegram, Snapchat, but hardly any of the substitutes can handle the following tasks:

  • I have an urgent request – anyone know someone nearby who can babysit for two hours tonight? 
  • Does anyone have a stroller I can borrow for two hours (#Location).
  • Can you recommend a doctor near (#location)
  • What book should I read next?
  • + all the additional wonderful services that Facebook groups provide.

Therefore,  P ( A > B ) > P ( B > A) , and we’ll keep Facebook.

* But, the above equation makes a false assumption: A > 0 . If we re-write:

  • If A < 0, #DeleteFacebook
  • Else If,  A > B, keep Facebook.
  • Else, #DeleteFacebook, keep substitute.

So, is your P+T+W > SU + PU + T? then, #DeleteFacebook.
Below is my post from a few year’s ago:

Why I’m breaking up with Facebook.

Facebook has repeatedly abused user trust. (e.g. news feed manipulation) But, for me, they have crossed the line: Selling themselves to Russian censorship. NYT reports,

Facebook over the weekend removed an event page promoting a Jan. 15 demonstration near the walls of the Kremlin in support of Aleksei A. Navalny, a leading opposition figure. The page had gathered more than 12,000 prospective attendees before it was blocked at the request of the Russian government’s Internet monitor, Roskomnadzor.

The reason, according to NYT,

Vadim Ampelonsky, a spokesman for Roskomnadzor, said on Saturday that Facebook had deleted the demonstration page because it called for an “unsanctioned mass event,” which can apply to any public event with three or more people.

In contrast, Google forfeited millions of dollars of ad search revenue when they stood up to the Chinese government who made “self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement” when they refused to sign a deal.

I’m a proud Google user. I’ll be off Facebook until they prove they care about users. Worded apologies don’t cut it anymore.

Also, I caution restaurants and businesses who build their “page likes” count. The value of page likes is two fold. (1) The marketing value of saying you have 50,000 page likes and (2) so your free posts reach people who like your business. Watch this video. and, review this article which forces page managers to rethink.

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