Now that Facebook's a big nasty corporation, it's not only attracted a lot of bad press, it's inspired more direct action. In the run-up to the IPO and its messy aftermath we've read a few declarations of expatriatism, including one today from The New Yorker's Steve Coll. In no way does this indicate a coming mass exodus. These people aren't starting movements, rallying the people of the Internet like Quit Facebook Day tried (and failed) to do back in 2010. These are just some conscientious objectors who don't want to support a company they don't believe in. Perhaps their words will inspire you to quit? Or just give you something to think about.
As we read through these public protests, one from Coll, another from The New York Observer's Elise Knutsen and another from The Daily's Sean Bonner, we came across a common theme: Facebook is now an evil corporation. Go figure, different people hate Facebook for the same reasons.
In this IPO process we've gotten to see the type of self-serving company Facebook's willing to be to profit. Facebook set it up so that inside investors will make more than the regular guy, something both investors and users should worry about, notes Coll. This, too, irritates Knutsen. "Poor? Join Facebook. Rich? Buy Facebook," she writes.
But beyond the pure selfishness, now that Facebook's public it will have to compromise user-privacy to continue making money. "Facebook’s huge valuation now puts pressure on the company’s strategists to increase its revenue-per-user," writes Coll. "That means more ads, more data mining, and more creative thinking about new ways to commercialize the personal, cultural, political, and even revolutionary activity of users." Knutsen believes those new ways include doing nasty things to our privacy. And, as Bonner notes, Facebook has never cared much for privacy. "It has shown no respect for the privacy of its users, " he writes. "The site notoriously makes it difficult to understand who sees what its users share and has been known to reset privacy controls to defaults without notification."
Basically, these former users have figured out Facebook is selling you and they don't want to help fill the company's pockets anymore. Not after understanding what that means for their privacy. And definitely not after the way it handled its IPO. "It’s then either a post-modern joke or a Marxist irony (or both at once) that we are able to buy shares of us. But either way, I don’t want you buying shares of me," writes Knutsen.
So, they have taken the only action they think matters, even if it won't start a revolution. "I am not fighting against Facebook; Facebook has already won," writes Knutsen. Rather, this is a moral crusade. "Still, I’m enjoying life as a conscientious objector. I don’t need or want a third-party to manage my personal relationships for profit," she continues. As Bonner put it (in a phrase seemingly made for a T-shirt): "Usage is implied consent. Usage is passive support."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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