Facebook is the world’s most popular social network, and one for which many of us have mixed feelings. Nobody minds having a way to catch up with college buddies, and our endless News Feeds are full of uninteresting videos that still grab our attention. But over the years, many users have grown tired of Facebook, and for good reason: Facebook is a frustrating company with a ubiquitous but flawed platform.
We like Facebook. It’s fun to reconnect with long-lost friends or to have an easy place to make plans for parties. And the corporation behind the social network always has something interesting in the works. But we don’t like Facebook’s ethically sketchy policies, and we don’t like the way the big social network isn’t always upfront with users about what’s really going on behind the scenes.
Usually, deciding to stop using a social network or an app is a gradual process. People become slowly, and often vaguely, dissatisfied with what the platform has to offer. They slowly stop going back to it until they make the final decision to delete the app or deactivate their account. But there are many frustrating realities about Facebook. In fact, the following facts about Facebook may make you so mad that you decide to go ahead and delete your Facebook account altogether.
1. Facebook is deceptive about privacy
Let’s start with a big one: Facebook is pretty deceptive about privacy. And for a social network that has access to lots and lots of data about you, that’s a pretty big deal-breaker. The biggest lie that Facebook tells the public is that your information is private unless you decide to make it public. Ostensibly, that’s true. But being on Facebook erodes your privacy regardless of the specifics of the platform’s waxing and waning privacy policies.
It’s hard to control where your posts end up, regardless of the privacy settings you choose. Facebook routinely shares information about you with a wide range of advertisers, vendors, and partners. And even the things you share in private messages aren’t actually private. Don’t want the rest of the world to know your thoughts on the election or on McDonald’s latest sandwich? Then maybe think twice about posting them on Facebook.
2. Facebook enables companies to track what you’re doing online
One of the top reasons to stop using Facebook is that the platform enables companies to track your movements online. It’s common knowledge that the information you share on Facebook will be used to target ads to you, but did you know that the social network will use information about the websites you browse and the apps you use in order to show you more relevant ads? Facebook knows about your web history and app usage thanks to the ubiquity of sites that embed the Like button, offer Facebook’s social login, or use its measurement and advertising services.
The social network uses that information to show you ads that are targeted to your interests and activities, sure. But it also shares information about you with apps, websites, and services that are integrated with its ecosystem. That information can include things like your location, your gender, your email address, your phone number, your relationship status, and more — not really data that you want to share with all of Facebook’s advertisers, vendors, service providers, and other partners.
3. Facebook can undermine your relationships
The world’s most popular social network may sound like a great place to make new friends, or at least to reconnect with old ones. But if you have a romantic relationship that you’re pretty invested in, you likely won’t be pleased to learn that psychologists have found that Facebook can drive a wedge between couples. That definitely isn’t something that Facebook is bragging about in marketing materials regarding its mission to “connect the world.”
Conversing with your significant other on Facebook can create tension in your real-life relationship, and hurt your ability to have important discussions. The instincts to post petty updates about your partner can inflame arguments and undermine trust, especially if you’re disrespecting your partner’s boundaries. Plus, Facebook makes it too easy to form unrealistic expectations about your relationship, become jealous of others, or even start talking to exes whom you resolved to leave in your past. Any bad behavior on the social network is your fault, not Facebook’s. But it’s still unfortunate that your Facebook habits may end up hurting your relationship with your partner.
4. Facebook has made it normal to be distracted all day
It’s no secret that you should stop using Facebook if you’d like to maximize your productivity during the workday. Along with the smartphone buzzing in your pocket and the cluttered email inbox calling for your attention, your Facebook News Feed is a distraction that probably pulls your attention away from the tasks you really need to be focusing on at work.
Your Facebook addiction probably means that it takes you longer to get around to starting the complex projects that need to get done. And once you get started working on them, they probably take a lot longer to finish than they really should. Succumbing to a distraction every minute or every hour hurts your ability to do the deep thinking that helps you come up with the solutions to complicated problems, or the unique approach that will set your work apart. You can’t blame Facebook 100% for your behavior. But it’s no coincidence that Facebook has designed its platform to be as addictive as possible.
5. Facebook makes it easy to post things you really shouldn’t
It’s an unfortunate Facebook fact that you really can’t control where your posts end up. Even if all of your posts are set to private, you can’t stop your friends from sharing your posts. And with just a few shares, they can easily be seen by hundreds of people you don’t know. That means that it’s pretty easy for what you assumed were your private thoughts to end up in front of prying eyes. There are tons of things that you shouldn’t post on Facebook. And it should make you mad that posting them is not just a social faux pas, but can actually undermine your safety, your security, and your wellbeing.
We won’t give you the whole list here. But if you need a few examples, some of the most dangerous things to post include data tied to your personal and financial security, clues to your passwords, information about your location, and complaints about your job. Switching to a social network where your posts only last 24 hours, or a messaging app that lets you keep your conversations private, probably doesn’t sound like such a bad idea right about now.
6. Facebook shares anonymized information that can hurt you
There are plenty of reasons to be mad about how Facebook collects and uses your data. But the final straw for many privacy advocates is that data aggregation, even involving the anonymized information that Facebook mines from your profile, your messages, and your browsing history, has real potential to hurt you. Stereotyping is most definitely at play in the world of data aggregation.