May 31 is Quit Facebook Day, but will you?
The majority of users won't be quitting because Facebook offers them a way to maintain contact that didn't exist before, like Kylowna Moton, 41, a teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District. "There's no way I'll quit," Moton said. "There's too many friends I don't get to see or talk to for many reasons like time and distance, but I like eavesdropping on some of their thoughts at least and dropping a comment here and there."
Users do have a reason to be nervous about all their views and photos being public. There have been recent firings for Facebook use, including a waitress in Charlotte, N.C., an esthetician in British Columbia and a teacher in Napierville, Ill. Companies are being urged to put rules for using Facebook in place for employees, including forbidding discussing private company dealings and for employees to use discretion when posting. Also know that almost half of all employers also scan Facebook and other social media to gather dirt on potential candidates.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg's comments haven't exactly eased user fears, including a batch of instant messages from his 19-year-old self where he tried to sell user information and insulted users for giving up private information so readily. More recent comments still point to Zuckerberg's desire to exploit that same private information. After all, Facebook is a business about selling advertising, not upholding the Fourth Amendment.
Still, Facebook seems to have made it a little harder for users to quit. "I don't think they will let us out," said Bridget Reilly, owner of a specialty foods store in Orange, Calif. and a Facebook user. "I heard that if you try to leave they will send messages from your friends trying to get you to come back. You are now part of the 'family!'"
Reilly is referring to when a user tries to quit Facebook, a screen pops up with images of your friends saying "(Insert Name) Will Miss You!" and asking again if the user really wants to leave, in a kind of template guilt trip.
For those who don't want to quit, but want to increase their privacy, they might want to try ReclaimPrivacy.org, a website devoted to making your Facebook account really private. Instructions on the site include how to scan your Facebook account for privacy and flags potentially serious privacy leaks -- and walks you through the steps to address them. Others advocate using common sense and not posting images or status updates that you wouldn't want your mother or potential employer to see and hear.
Facebook definitely has its problems, but for many, quitting may not be a viable option.
"It's also a good way to keep in touch with many former students and see what they are making of the world," Moton said. "That kind of connection would be impossible without Facebook."