My friends know that I have a complicated relationship with Facebook. Simply put: I hate it, but I can’t leave. The interface never made sense to me, the multiple audiences made participation hard for me, the quizzes cluttered everything up, college friends flaunted their perfect lives in my face (without meaning to, but it still hurt), and Hasbro took away Scrabulous, which was really the only redeeming feature of Facebook. So why can’t I leave? My local friends assume I’ll know what they’ve posted when we meet on the weekend.
I’d finally figured out a balance that worked for me: I put my local friends and my family members on a list of their own, dragged that list to the top of my list of lists, and now when I open Facebook, they’re all I see. But then Facebook started messing with privacy settings again. For a more full story, check this out: Facebook’s New Privacy Changes: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. But here are the four things I did this morning in my battle to coexist with Facebook:
- Overwrote and then deleted some parts of the newly designated set of “publicly available information” (this includes your name, profile picture, current city, gender, networks, and the pages that you are a “fan” of). I overwrote what I could because I wanted to actually change the cached information in Facebook’s database, and then I deleted it because a) I don’t want to give that information away, and b) it was now bogus anyway.
- Clicked “edit profile” and then the little “edit” icon next to my Friends list and unchecked the box that says “show my friends on my profile” because that seems to be the only way to keep my friends lists out of the hands of apps and random passers by.
- Went to Facebook > Settings > Privacy Settings > Applications and Websites > What Your Friends Can Share About You and unchecked everything. I don’t like the idea that having a friend who answers quizzes on Facebook means that the quiz creators can gain access to a lot of my information.
- For good measure, took the opportunity to go through all the other privacy settings and make sure they still reflected my wishes.
Is this overly paranoid of me? Probably. (Tinfoil hats help keep warmth in, remember, and it’s pretty incredibly cold out right now.) The thing is, I’m not invested enough in Facebook to feel like the privacy trade-off is worth it for me. I’m there so I can keep up with my local friends. Full stop. I’m already making concessions by making myself available to the students who want to friend me there and by grudgingly admitting that I like the rolodex function it plays. But I feel zero motivation to give up more than I can help to Facebook and its third party developers. They can kindly leave me alone, please.