10 Reasons NOT to Delete Your Facebook Account

July 13th, 2010 No Comments

The following is a guest post from Natan Gesher and was first posted on his blog Lines Writing Lines and is reprinted with permission of the author. The views expressed are entirely his own.

If you’re in the habit of following these things, you’ve by no doubt now read Dan Yoder’s 10 Reasons to Delete Your Facebook Account. I’ve seen it posted in six or seven places in just the past few hours. Unfortunately, it makes less and less sense every time I skim it. For the following reasons and for many others, I am not planning to delete my Facebook account:

Keeping in touch with Facebook

10. I moved from America to Israel in 2004, leaving behind my entire family and almost every friend I’d ever known. Though I didn’t get a Facebook account until 2005, I’ve been using it daily for the past five years to stay in touch with friends and relatives. Facebook makes it extremely inexpensive and highly efficient to get out important news about myself and to find out important news about other people with whom I never was very close. At the same time, it has never replaced traditional means of communication like telephone calls; nor should it.

Business networking with Facebook

9. LinkedIn is there and it does a fine job, but work is only one part of my life and there’s no chance for a prospective employer or client to get to know me by my LinkedIn page. I add my coworkers as Facebook friends and I’ll do the same for my clients. If they don’t accept me, I don’t mind at all, but I think they’ll want to get a better understanding of who I am and what I like, to the extent that information on Facebook supplements my real personality.

Photo sharing on Facebook

8. I understand that Facebook is now the world’s biggest photo-sharing site. There are others, like Flickr and Picasa, that have lots of features and are more professional, and more serious solutions like installing Gallery on your own domain. But for ease of tagging, getting photos to lots and lots of people – but not to random strangers – and sheer simplicity, sharing photos with Facebook makes perfect sense.

Connecting with new friends on Facebook

7. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been out and met someone or a few people, but only gotten first names. In the old days, meeting someone and speaking for a few minutes meant that I’d either have to ask for a telephone number to continue the conversation, with might seem a little too forward (and I don’t enjoy talking on the telephone very much) or attempting to follow up through a friend-of-a-friend, which could be cumbersome (I’ve never been comfortable meeting someone and then asking for an email address). It’s now extremely handy to use Facebook to connect with a new contact, even given just a first name and a mutual friend. This might be to continue a discussion about some interesting issue, to finish tagging a photo, to pass along information about a job or an apartment or just to stay in touch in the future. It’s clean, it’s easy and it works.

Using Facebook ads

6. Recently, while looking for an apartment in Tel Aviv, I used Facebook ads to get the word out and drive people to read my message that I was willing to pay a NIS 3500 finder’s fee for information leading to me renting an apartment. A very large percentage of the site’s traffic was generated by these Facebook ads, leading to several actionable tips. My somewhat creative use of Facebook ads was profiled in an article in TheMarker, the business section of Haaretz, but in fact I believe that I was using Facebook’s advertising platform in exactly the way it was designed and for exactly its purpose. Gone are the days when ad campaigns cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars just to plan and start. I set $10 daily limits for my ads and didn’t have any knowledge of the system beyond what’s available in Facebook’s own FAQs. It’s so easy to use Facebook ads, I could almost train my dog to use them.

Facebook’s privacy settings

5. Complaints about how Facebook sets up its privacy settings are a dime a dozen, but I challenge anyone to come up with another comparable web service that gives its users more powerful, granular control over their information than Facebook does. You can choose exactly who gets to see every little thing you do on Facebook or set global settings and just stick with them. True, they change their privacy options all the time and true, it gets pretty confusing, but it’s getting confusing because it’s getting more detailed and more complex, which is a good thing. And the bottom line is that no information is available about you that you don’t put on Facebook in the first place: if you want to have a profile with just your first name, last initial and favorite television shows, you can do that. This isn’t to say that privacy isn’t a big concern. It is, but it’s also crazy to complain that Facebook is spreading your information every which way if you don’t use Facebook’s own options to control who sees your information.

Remembering people’s details with Facebook

4. Whenever someone I know travels, I always ask for a postcard to add to my collection. “But what’s your address?” they always ask. And I always say: “It’s on my Facebook page.” When I meet someone who asks for my phone number, I could recite the ten digits or write them down, but it’s a hell of a lot easier just to give my Facebook username – which, conveniently, is the same as my first name. When someone wants to know my birthday to wish me a happy birthday – it’s there, and it even reminds my friends and family on Facebook when my birthday is approaching. I have a Birthdays calendar in iCal too, so I can see when important birthdays are coming… but there are hundreds more birthdays in my Facebook account.

Everyone is on Facebook

3. As often happens, Farhad Manjoo said it best: “There is no longer any good reason to avoid Facebook… it is now so widely trafficked that it’s fast becoming a routine aid to social interaction, like e-mail and antiperspirant [and mobile phones]… Facebook is now at that same point – whether or not you intend it, you’re saying something by staying away.” What does it say to me when I meet someone who doesn’t have Facebook? Something like: I don’t want to stay in touch with you. Or perhaps: Please leave me alone. Or even: Community is not important to me. These are perfectly valid sentiments, but if you do want to stay in touch, if you don’t want to be left alone, if communitydoes matter to you, then you’ll find a way to use the tool that’s expected of you.

Facebook gets better all the time

2. I’m actually ambivalent about Facebook’s progress and I include this one even though, while I think it’s true that Facebook does get better all the time, it also gets worse. I miss the days when Facebook was mainly about networks (and then groups) and I think becoming a “fan” of a “page” is lame, which is why I’ve never done it. I think most Facebook applications like the Farmville thing and the Mafia Wars thing are complete crap, which is why I’ve never used them (and why I’ve blocked them from spamming me). At the same time, Facebook’s integration with the wider web is very cool and opens up a lot of interesting possibilities – who knows, maybe one day Facebook will be the next Google, the first stop for people who want to find something on the internet. And where else on the internet do people join a site with their real names (first and last) and real pictures, one account per person? Facebook could be the long sought source for online micropayments, one-click identity verification without credit cards, etc, etc.

It’s a pain in the ass to quit Facebook

1. This is in response to Dan Yoder’s point three: “Facebook makes it incredibly difficult to truly delete your account.” It seems circular to me that it’s hard to close your Facebook account would be an argument for why you should close your Facebook account, but I understand that many people see it that way. Just ask yourself: is it really worth it? Facebook is entertaining, useful, efficient, free, generally a good idea to use and possibly will be even more essential in the future. If you don’t like making your information public, limit the amount of information you share. You don’t even have to give a real last name to use Facebook; you don’t have to use your normal email address; you don’t have to join your company’s network or accept your boss’s friend request. Is it really worth canceling your account for the vaguest and lamest reasons? Nope. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and keep the damn account open.

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