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No Facebook Required: Leaving Facebook-Why, How, and What’s Next

Posted by Spencer Hope Davis on September 28, 2011 in The Road Less Traveled |

Facebook is banking that you are too tied to the service to quit them. They are hoping that you will be blinded by the beauty of Timeline and will be so busy clicking on your friend’s Timelines that you won’t see or understand that with each click you tighten yourself deeper into the cog. They are banking that you won’t have the time, tech savvy or knowledge of all the steps needed to undo all of the default settings they have put in place to open your identity to more people than you thought you allowed. They are betting that you can’t imagine life without Facebook. That you fear losing touch, losing the ability to share, and that you’ll forget that it was just a few years ago that you were staying in touch and sharing your life on your own terms and were doing just fine. They’re betting that you have come to feel that there was no life before Facebook and that there will not be a life for you without it.


Make them lose that bet. Quit Facebook. I am.


Take the Red Pill and Leave The Matrix


Can’t say that I didn’t see this new Facebook day coming. It’s been a queasy feeling for me for quite a while now. Admittedly, I loved Facebook. For all the reasons that you probably do: I liked sharing links, photos, stories, and happenings with friends. But in the past year or so I’ve noticed a trend in myself and in others in sharing more and more intimacies that I felt uncomfortable seeing or uncomfortable after I posted them. What was going on here?  I…we…were getting too comfortable with this medium. My opinion.

Then the privacy issues arose. First it was the realization that some of my personal pictures (nothing explicit of course but just personal) were not just tagged but swiped off the page and used in a way that I would never have willingly allowed. That was my fault for posting them and I felt that as long as I stayed in control of who my friends were, what sites accessed my info and what I deemed public, I would be okay. Yet Facebook started crumbling that false sense of control away and that’s when it really stopped being fun. Gradually I noticed more changes. Facebook allowed apps and other third party businesses ongoing access to users info as the default setting.  They expected users to be aware and savvy enough to go into settings and repeatedly change or delete them. Easy to do but I was troubled by the thought that many would not get the memo or wouldn’t think about the repercussions. Changing privacy settings became an ongoing activity. The fun was leaving the experience.

Then in the past months the changes have accelerated. An example is the recent email sent that said Facebook would no longer send emails when someone posted on your wall or responded to something you posted. This had been a way for me to limit online time but also know when someone connected with me. I saw this as Facebook’s way of keeping users online. Now, if I wanted to keep the emails coming I had to go in and change the settings.

In the past month I noticed that it seemed my friends weren’t posting as much as usual. I came to find that Facebook has instituted a new setting where all of my friend’s posts are set to show up in my home page feed as “most updates” instead of “all updates.” This meant that I wasn’t seeing the posts of my chosen friends and they weren’t necessarily seeing what I posted. What’s the point of sharing if Facebook decides what I am seeing? Facebook now rates posts as important “top stories” and puts a lot of what they want at the top of my homepage feed based on a confusing algorithm of factors. Again, I would have to go in and change the settings for each friend. Not something I wanted to do.

 Last week Facebook announced Timeline and other sharing changes and it became clear to me at least, that users are losing control of their profiles under the guise that we will be sharing in better ways. Now friends can see everything posted since we joined Facebook and no one is sure if there is a way to really, really stop non- friends from seeing what we once thought as private without first taking extended and ongoing measures. Think about how many times you saw this post from friends on Facebook in the past week:

Do me a favor: please hover over my name here, wait for the box to load and then hover over the “Subscribe” link. Then uncheck the “Comments and likes” choice. I would rather my comments on friends’ posts not be made public. Thanks** Then repost if you don’t want your EVERY MOVE posted on the right for everyone to see! I’ll do the same for you if you want. Just click “like.”!!!

This infers that you must do this process with each of your friends. Good luck with that. I hope you have the time to do that, and then set up privacy settings on other things, and other things, and other things. Check this short clip out:

But again this is just how I feel and why I am leaving facebook. I’d like to provide you with some links to articles that have broken down the issue in far more detail:

From CNN: “With “Real Time’ Apps, Facebook is Always Watching” Where you will read about the potential that Facebook can access and share what you are watching on Hulu, Netflix or listening to on Spotify with your Facebook friends.

From the CNN article cited above. Can you find yourself in that Matrix behind Zukerberg?


From CNN: “With Timeline Feature, Facebook Goes Eternal (or at least tries to).” Where you will see how Facebook wants Timeline to not only reflect all of your posts since joining but also wants you to go into Timeline and post things about yourself from the past all the way back until you were born if you would like to. Yes they would like you to. Not a big stretch of the imagination as users already share wedding dates, child birth dates, and family moments. Facebook wants to be the only place that you share and they want you to share everything.

From Mashable: “Facebook’s New Features Might Not Be as Private as You think”
From ReadWriteWeb “’Read’ in Facebook- It’s Not a Button So Be Careful What You Click!”
From Huffington Post: “Facebook Logout Tracking: Privacy Concerns Arise over Alleged Cookie Snooping”
These three will give you the low down on what all those clicks and settings are setting you up for.
All of these address concerns that even when you are logged out of Facebook they are still tracking your browsing information. Also that when you click “read” on certain sites your reading history will be shared with friends because you have defaulted into an information sharing application. You will then have to go into setting and change it or risk embarrassment when you click to read an article titled, “What’s the Best Way to Remove Pubic Hair Before Having Sex?”

And finally from Mashable, my “favorite” piece. “No, You Aren’t Going to Quit Facebook.” Where the author closes by saying, Yes, Facebook is changing and not all of those changes are going to be improvements. But as long as the online social graph is centered around a Facebook-led ecosystem, threats to quit the service are just that — threats.

In other words you are hooked so just deal with it.

How to Leave Facebook :

So I’m leaving Facebook for the reasons above and more. But since so many people seem to believe that it’s is an impossible act, let me tell how you can leave Facebook and maintain many of the activities you have become accustomed to since joining the service. Follow these tips and then read how to drop your account.

Tell your Facebook friends that you are leaving and tell them how you can be reached. Post this note over a few days because again, it just may not show up on some feeds. This will also give your friends a chance to say goodbye on this medium and tell you how they may want you to contact them in the future. Don’t burn any bridges that you will want to cross later just because you’re quitting Facebook.

What about talking to friends?
It used to be sufficient to talk to friends face to face or by phone, letter, email or text. You can still do that. Don’t have emails for all the new people that you’ve made friends with? Yes you do. All of your Facebook friends have an email attached to their account and it is posted on their info pages. This is a piece of information we have willingly given all of our Facebook friends. Take them with you. If you have a Yahoo email account (if not get one) you can import all of your friends email addresses into your Yahoo address book. Log in to Yahoo, click on “contact,” and then “import contacts” next the Facebook icon. You will then log into Facebook and all of your friends email addresses will be part of your address book.
Say  ”Hi”every now and then.

What About Birthdays?

Agreed. One of the nicest ways to show you care on Facebook has been the tradition of wishing a friend happy birthday. You can do the same once you are off Facebook. Log on to Facebook and click “events” from the left panel. Then click on birthdays and scroll to the bottom of the page where it says “export.” Click this and every friend’s special day can be added to your offline calendar. If you have a Mac these will be added to iCal. If you don’t have a Mac open a Google account and set up a calendar. Click calendars and under “other calendars” toggle to “add by url.” Cut and paste the web address Facebook gave you. All of the birthdays will now be there. You can even set alarms to remind you by email or on your desktop of these dates.

What About Phone Numbers and Addresses?

Not everyone shares this info on Facebook but if you want contact information stored in your phone ( emails, addresses, and phone numbers ) just make sure that you have the Facebook app. Click on the “friends” icon and look for the blue arrow in the upper right corner. It will give you the option to sync contacts. Click this and your phone will be downloaded with all available info from your friends profile including their smiling profile pictures.

What About All Those Great Pictures Shared?

Well. You might have to give up a lot of them. Many friends only post pictures to their Facebook pages. You can always ask by email if they will send you a couple. They are friends after all and that shouldn’t be a big deal. But prepare yourself that this may not be a part of your life as much as it has been on Facebook. BUT you can set up a drop site for friends to place photos. This works especially well for families. For example you can go to Flickr and open a free account and load pictures to it. Call it, “The Johnson Family Picture Page.”  Then make it password protected and send that password in an email to your family members asking them to post family pics there. It can be a very fun way to make sure that only family sees pics, comments, and posts. If you are a Mac user or have MobileMe, upload a family album and password protect that for your family members who can then upload and add their own pics to the slideshow.

Be bold and start a new family tradition.

What About All Those Great Picture Albums on Facebook and Links that My Friends Share?

You would be surprised how many photo albums are viewable on Facebook without the need for you to log in or have an account. A great example is this Facebook based album of photos from the Wall Street protests. You’ll be told you need to log on but you don’t have to in order to see the pictures. Just click cancel every time it asks you and keep viewing. Many Facebook fan pages are the same. (example 1, example 2, example 3) You only need to have a Facebook account to post there, not to read them. So you can look at them as a means of weaning yourself off Facebook or as a way to be there but not there. As far as cool news links, Twitter is the place to be in my opinion. I get more interesting and diverse links there than from any other place. You might want to try Twitter. Follow a few celebrities @MsTerryMcMillan @PamGrier @andersoncooper news sites @HuffingtonPost @cnnbrk or pop culture sites @popsugar @peoplemag to get the feel of it, and then find some of your friends (through email address or invites) and start talking. It can be far less intrusive and actually quite interesting. Roll over the Twitter names to see these pages.

What About All my Friends on Facebook?

Now you didn’t expect me, who says you don’t need an alarm clock, don’t need a grocery store and who constantly tells you to walk down the road less traveled, to be the one to tell you to stay on Facebook just because you have friends there did you? Your friends are wherever you are. Wherever they are. Or they are not friends.

Be bold. Step out and find your own way…..again.

How Do I Close My Account?

****UPDATE****  Before you take the step to delete your account go to “Account Settings” and click the blue link for “download a copy.”  Even if you have made copies of all the pics and such on your account this option will download a folder of all of your posts, pics and videos posted since you joined.  It will take a while for it to archive but when done this is a nice extra source to download to your hard drive.****

Go to your account and click on “security.” You are given the option to deactivate the account by clicking on the blue link.  Understand that deactivating your account just puts it on pause. No one can reach you but Facebook maintains all of your information, posts, friends lists, and pictures. Another tricky option because you think that this ends it but it doesn’t. They keep the info and they’re hoping that you will not make it through withdrawal and sign back on and pick up where you left off.  It is your call on this one but if you really want this to end, make sure you are logged on and go to this link. Click submit and breathe. You’ve done it!

What’s Next For Me After Facebook:

Spread this post far and wide and especially to your Facebook friends. I will be off Facebook by October 2, 2011, both on my personal account and blog/business feeds on Facebook. As to my business side of Facebook, I am a firm believer that there are ways to market your business/book/work off Facebook. I’ll be writing on this later. After October 2, I won’t have “share” links for Facebook on this blog. If you share my work, please do so on Twitter or pass it along by email or post links on other lists that you may belong to.  I appreciate your friendship and your support. Look out for an email from me saying “Hi” every once in a while. Stay in touch. If you are a Facebook friend you will stay so unless you “unfriend” me by email. Connect with me on twitter @spencerhope and on the blog. Subscribe for weekly email posts or set me up on your Kindle reader. See you on the other side!

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  • Michelle Zulli says:

    Thank you for this. I have willfully ignored my concerns about Facebook’s privacy policies for the year I’ve had an active account. Then when Facebook implemented the new layout (and sneaky privacy settings change) last week all of my Facebook friends were griping about it, and I thought, “This is my chance. I’ll just close my account.” The next morning I logged in and saw some friend’s share of something and I thought, “Well, maybe it’s not so bad.” But I still felt like Facebook had given me the finger and I absolutely did not want to just take it. Someone tweeted your blog post and I have posted my first goodbye note on Facebook. I am worried that I will lose touch with some of the people I kept up with on Facebook, but I hope that I will not.

    • Hi Michelle,
      Thanks for your comment. I really hope this works out for you. It does require taking that extra effort to stay in touch. FB is/has been very convenient but at the end of the day we just have to be able to imagine that this can’t be the only way we communicate–and that we will not be isolated if we aren’t on FB. Again, that’s why FB is certain that they will keep those that have a bad feeling about staying. It isn’t going to be easy for me either but I’m determined that this is best for me and I think you’ll see that it’s best for you. Keep me up to date on how it goes for you. Post here on this blog or send me an email at Stay in touch!

      • Michelle Zulli says:

        How has this been going for you? When I announced my intention to quit Facebook a few friends contacted me with something close to hostility. I fretted for a few days and then hit the delete link without making a second announcement (which I had originally planned to do). I was afraid that I would lose my nerve so I pulled the plug.

        It’s been ten days since then. While I can’t say that I feel isolated, I do miss the daily casual contact with some of my friends, but on the other hand I am happy to be done with certain aspects of it. Yesterday I felt a little bit like maybe I should give in and go back, but the feeling has passed for the most part.

        • Hostility? Wow. I would like to know what that was about. I’ve been fine. Twitter has been a great bridge. One of the biggest non friend things I enjoyed on FB was the links to sites that I liked reading. So I get that on twitter now. I have not missed FB at all! I did get a few notes from FB friends who said they were leaving too so that helped a lot and I have been emailing and being social in other ways. Nothing hostile from my decision. Sorry you had to deal with that but I am glad you are still glad with your decision.

  • shelia says:

    Thank you. This is the article that I had not the ability to write. You’ve nailed all the things that make me sad about my time on FB today. Thank you again

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