Tag Archives: Facebook

Why I’m done with Facebook: organ harvesting and narcissism

Someone recently asked my mum if I had voluntarily scarpered from Facebook. There was a huffy aspect to this person’s questioning as if she couldn’t fathom why I wouldn’t want to continue seeing boring updates and pictures of raw chickens wearing onions (seriously) at the price of handing over all my personal information on a plate to a monolithic company.

The steady drip-feed of creepily invasive questions is what pushed me over the edge and into the arms of deactivation in May. The tipping point came when I logged in find Facebook blandly asking “When did you meet Daniel?” (my fiancé). It helpfully encouraged me to add the month and the year. I’m bemused on two fronts here: why does Facebook fondly imagine that anyone would care when I met my fiance? And more importantly, when did it decide to become an online interrogator?

I shouldn’t have been surprised to be questioned in this way, as a few weeks previously Facebook had asked me if I’m a registered organ donor. Is it just paranoia from watching Ewan McGregor in the Island recently, or is Facebook’s next move to harvest my organs? When you’re asking yourself this, it’s really time for a re-think.

This massive corporation wants to know every country I’ve visited, the films I’ve seen, the books I’ve read, the cities I’ve lived, what I studied at school, where I used to work. Does no-one else find this really fricking intrusive? And it’s not as if  I’m giving this information to a friend, or a benign Santa-like figure.  It’s a publicly listed company, run in the interests of its shareholders, having unrivalled access to every seemingly insignificant detail about me.

Oh, and I’ve to hand over all this information for free.  And if  I’m really lucky, Facebook will pocket some advertising dollars so I can see some cliched age-and-gender based adverts in my feed.

Turns out I’m not alone here. To date, over 400,000 people have signed a petition asking Facebook to stop forcing users to install its latest messaging app. The app sounds innocuous enough – until you accept the terms and conditions. By accepting them, you let Facebook  access your phone’s  camera and images, call and send messages without your consent, and access information about all of your contacts. Oh, and they can send that info on to third parties.

Needless to say, I have no intention of signing up for any of that.


Turning from Facebook’s monumental snoopiness, I also think it brings out the worst in people. The looming example of this is oversharing pictures. If, when I met my friends face-to-face, they always showed me holiday pictures and baby pictures, I would be bored witless. It’s behaviour that would be deemed odd and tedious. Why then do it online? Call me crazy, but the act of constantly parading pictures of yourself is not a trait to be valued in another person. Yes, you’re superficially communicating with another human being by sharing photos and having them comment on them. But how is this exchange in any way interesting or meaningful? Why not Skype or god forbid, speak in person?

Einstein defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If that’s true, I must be certifiably nuts based on the number of times I’ve refreshed my Facebook in the vain hope it will elicit something interesting. No more: I’m done.


Why I just deactivated my Facebook account – #FBrape

I reckon Facebook annoys most of its users from time to time. The surreptitious changes to your privacy settings, the new timeline, the relentless push towards a ‘share everything’ mindset. Until this week, my own bugbear was the insistent promptings to add my favourite films and books every time I log in on a pc. Facebook had even come up with some helpful suggestions (Dirty Dancing and Twilight), making me wonder if they think I am, in fact, a 14-year old girl.

Until now I’ve put up with these irritations because I have friends, family and colleagues on Facebook, and I’m mildly nosy. I like to see what they’re up to. Granted, there is the odd boring picture (I don’t need to see your dinner!) that doesn’t improve the quality of my life, but generally it’s worth it.


Today I deactivated my Facebook account. The #FBrape campaign of the last week made me re-think Facebook – what it stands for, and whether or not I want it in my life.

On the plus side, Facebook has very carefully defined its own parameters of what it deems to be acceptable behaviour. There is a ‘like’ button, but no ‘dislike’ button, because Facebook is meant to be a positive, sociable place. And it ostensibly does “not permit hate speech based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition”.

So far, so good. Where Facebook falls down is its inability (or unwillingness) to actually enforce its own standards. In my Twitter feed this week I’ve come across a plethora of vile images that have been reported to Facebook, including: a female child with two black eyes, a woman tied up, gagged and crying, and various pictures of girls who look unconscious, covered in blood. Facebook’s sanctimonious response has been a refusal to remove most of this content, because it is classified as ‘humour’.

One of the pages was apparently called ‘fly kicking sluts in the uterus’. I wonder if it would have been taken down if it was called ‘fly kicking pakis in the face’? I suspect it would have been – because racist content is rightly removed from Facebook as soon as it reported, which is where the raging inconsistency comes in. Race and gender are covered by the same clause in Facebook’s own standards – so either both racist and misogynistic content is not OK, or both are considered humour and tolerated. You can’t apply one rule for one and not the other.

Then there’s their other piece of inconsistent, anti-female behaviour: routinely removing pictures of women who’ve had mastectomies. You can’t share a picture of a woman who has bravely overcome breast cancer (because that’s offensive) but you can share a picture of gagged, crying rape victim (because that’s funny). To me, this just speaks volumes for the contemptuous view the company has of women.

To date, Facebook has yet to respond to the open letter, signed by 40 organisations, calling for hate speech against women to be recognised and moderated. They must assume that users are so hooked on their daily Facebook fix that they’ll overlook a small matter like gender-inspired hate speech.

I know that as only one person, deactivating my account will be a non-event for Facebook. But I want to make the gesture anyway – because I refuse to be part of a network that routinely trivialises violence against women.