Saturday, May 8, 2010

Leaving Facebook?

Profile Picture
Facebook Profile Picture for May 1, 2010

I haven't been on Facebook all that long, nor am I all that active on it. I do check my stream every once in a while, and update my status perhaps every week or so. Still, it has been fun to connect – on a very superficial way – with old classmates and such. Leaving Facebook would not be a huge personal hardship, unlike for people who really have built a space for themselves there.

That's why I'm seriously considering it.

Big corporations aren't perfect. Business is competitive, and competing exclusively by being nice and doing the right thing is a difficult ideal. If you succeed, you get a great deal of power, and, as the old saw has it, power corrupts. Yet there are degrees of corruption. There is a difference between, say, a tobacco company and a company that makes fair trade and sustainable production a part of its brand. The direction Facebook has been taking in the recent past has been towards the former.

I don't feel comfortable supporting a company that acts the way Facebook is acting. Many of my recent status updates have been links critical of Facebook. Yet the more I read and think about it, the more unhappy I feel about being there. Yet I do like the idea of being findable on the Net, and being able to connect with people I know. Up to now, I've salved my conscience by making noise on Facebook about my concerns, with the pious hope that it'll do a tiny bit to put pressure on them to reform. I'm a big believer in reforming systems from the inside whenever it's possible; abandoning them or fighting them is often just an abdication of responsibility.

But if there's a viable alternative to Facebook that's significantly more scrupulous ethically, I'd like to know about it.

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