There are pockets of resistance. Elon Musk has deleted his company’s pages from Facebook. Playboy has now followed suit. I began at the beginning: I requested a download of all my Facebook data. I was horrified. I unpublished a couple of pages, which had no likes anyway. Then I re-enabled them. Then I had to Google ‘how to delete Facebook’ because there is no way that a normal human can find the button to do it. The only ‘delete’ button I found required a death certificate – that’s a length even I decided was a step too far. There had to be another way. There was. I did it.
A BBC reporter had requested his Facebook download, and it spooked him. It spooked me. First of all, he had over 500 MB of guff to download. It took hours just for Facebook to prepare the file. One of the things that spooked him was that it had thousands of phone numbers from his phone’s contact database. The only surprise was that there were so many. And, being a journalist, hundreds of people were his contacts and sources for stories, people who had trusted him with their private contact details who were not friends with him on Facebook.
The reason I was horrified at my own download is that it was only 25 MB. Over a similar ten year period, the BBC guy had twenty seven times the social interaction that I did. That’s 2700%! What it also showed me is that for large swathes of the last ten years, my Facebook account has been disabled. I never missed it. For 30 years before joining Facebook I managed perfectly without it. There was no Facebook-shaped hole in my life. It fixed a problem I did not have, and at what cost?
I have spent hours sliding through pictures of coffee, food, other people’s holidays, some of whom I have never met and don’t really know. I have read alarming political extremism dribbled out by people I thought were sensible. I have posted almost nothing that wasn’t some kind of ‘look at me’ cry for help. The only reason I didn’t delete Facebook last time is that I couldn’t find the button. Until recently it was not possible at all. Unless you were dead.
So today, I Googled how to do it. There just had to be a better option than death. I found it, eventually. And no, for your own protection, I’m not linking to it. I have just discovered the secret to life, the universe and everything. You can go find it for yourself, matey.
Just in case you’re worried, in case you know me and wondered why I had dipped off the grid, I am acting of my own free will and without intoxication. And the funny thing is, you didn’t actually miss me, did you? No. You did not. Which goes to show.
There is a safety valve built in. So yes, it is technically possible to delete Facebook, but not by reading Facebook help. And, should you by some divine intervention manage to find the secret button, it won’t actually take effect for two weeks.
So there you have it. My two weeks starts now. If I weaken and log back in, the counter resets. If any of you persuade me to rethink, there is time. Perhaps that is a challenge. But if I just avoid it for the next fourteen days, the 25 MB that represents 10 years of my life will be beyond the reach of me, and virtually any of Facebook’s corporate customers. They promise me that anything inadvertently kept will have my name removed from it. Well, who cares? I won’t be able to prove it one way or another.
Here’s Elon expressing why he did it:-
It’s not a political statement and I didn’t do this because someone dared me to do it. Just don’t like Facebook. Gives me the willies. Sorry.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) 24 March 2018
I happen to think this might turn out to be Elon’s greatest gift to humanity. On the other hand, I’m already regretting it. Could one of you share this on Facebook, at all? Thanks.