Steve Barnes' World of Happiness

Time to leave Facebook.

My first Facebook post was in 2007, and the last was this week. Just over 6,100 posts, not counting comments or replies.

Having decided I'd never send friend requests (only let people send friend requests to me, which I would always accept from real people I knew), and that I wouldn't "unfriend" anyone (but support anyone in "unfriending" me for any reason), I amassed over a thousand Facebook "friends."

Before leaving, I took a whole day to contact everyone to whom I wanted to make sure I offered a point of contact: just over two dozen.

Facebook seemed like it might be the future of the Internet. It had potential to combine worldwide networking and artistic sculptibility of the early web, and give it to everyone. It's hard to imagine how that opportunity could be fumbled even by someone who was trying, and I never thought the list of reasons to leave Facebook would become so long that it would take an hour just to write a summary.

Facebook employees made world news this week by tweeting their shame at working for the company after Mark Zuckerberg's latest defence of neither flagging nor fact-checking broadly-reaching posts by government officials considered to spread misinformation or incite violence.

Facebook is one of the main perpetrators of tracking users around the web, and inviting other companies to collaborate is part of their business. Reports of psychological distress from overworked content moderators sifting through violent video have been exceeded in newsworthiness by abuses of user trust, as the company has been shown time and again to share loosely and freely with third parties data users have trusted it to safeguard. Cambridge Analytica was only one client of its generally-available APIs.

Even if none of this were true, Facebook's merits as a platform aren't great. Control over your timeline, the primary stream of content that reaches you, is limited. Targeted ads are to your experience as road signs to city streets, and the interface – what you'd think should be a user's main concern – is clunky at best. As a web developer, opening the web inspector reveals its use of HTML, built on standards carefully designed to be clean, accessible and semantic, nears ghastly.

A platform with none of these problems is perfectly possible. Facebook could have done way better in 16 years.

There was much interaction, some measure of affection, and some discussions which taught me more about people's amusing and pitiable quirks and shortfalls.

In retrospect, the start of my time on Facebook marked the final days of my time maintaining this site. And the beginning of my time rebuilding this site marked my final days of using Facebook.

Facebook wants to be people's home. Mark has expressed he wants people to think of "Facebook" as "the Internet." When I contacted friends, I got the impression some would like to leave too, but depended too heavily on it.

I joined Facebook starry-eyed. And I discovered that if Facebook is either my home or not, then it's not. Anyone who knew me on Facebook is welcome here.

That's how that turned out.