- Title: VARIOUS: Disgruntled Facebook users declare May 31 "Quit Facebook Day"
- Date: 29th May 2010
- Summary: CU OF COMPUTER SCREEN
- Embargoed: 13th June 2010 13:00
- Topics: Communications
- Reuters ID: LVACNUR83022ZBH79QWBCAC0V8J0
- Story Text: Disgruntled Facebook users, angry over the social networking site's complicated privacy settings, have declared May 31st "Quit Facebook Day".
To date, more than 23,000 Facebook users have publicly committed to close their accounts, amid concerns the social networking site makes it difficult for individuals to manage their data and privacy settings.
The online petition was started by Toronto-based design strategist Matthew Milan and web technologist Joseph Dee, who claim Facebook is mishandling users' data.
"We don't value the way that you do business. We don't think that you're an ethical company and we have a choice of where we choose to be and it's not on that network," Dee told Reuters.
The "Quit Facebook Day" co-founder said the two men simply decided enough was enough, and that they would close their accounts.
"We worked for like 2 days to set up a pretty quick and dirty website for people to sort of share the values that we had and put their name to it and that's how it was born," Dee said.
Dee said the response to the campaign had been overwhelming.
"It's been crazy. It's been nuts. It's turned into an international story," he said.
On May 28, approximately 23,413 "Committed Facebook Quitters" had signed the online petition. Dee admitted he was unsure as to how many of those Facebook users would actually deactivate their accounts on the day.
"I don't know, even the idea of a day, we didn't intend for it to be such a, you know, some people are calling it this international day to quit. It was more to like wake these guys up and say you can't, you just can't push these things where you want to go without really talking to us as users," Dee said.
Self-confessed Facebook addict, 21-year-old German exchange student Ramona Raba, said although she had some concerns about the social networking site's privacy controls, she would never quit her account.
"I wouldn't quit it. Never. I don't think so. I don't want to quit Facebook because like I have too many friends there and everything so it's useful for me and I wouldn't quit it," Raba said.
Faced with a growing backlash from users, Facebook this week announced it was beefing up privacy protections on the world's most popular online social network.
The changes, to be rolled out in the coming weeks, would make it easier for users to manage their privacy settings and block third parties from accessing their information without their explicit permission.
Wired.com's New York bureau chief, John Abel, said he doubted many Facebook users would actually go ahead and end their accounts on May 31.
"I don't think there's going to be a huge exodus. There certainly hasn't been, and it's been maybe the worst two weeks PR-wise in the history of Facebook," Abel told Reuters.
For those who want to quit their accounts -- beware. There's no guarantee your personal information will actually be removed from the Facebook website.
"Pretty much every single networking, social sharing site that you can think of does not have an elegant clean way, to take all of your information when you leave, or can guarantee you, or does guarantee you that it will not remain there in some way shape or form," Abel said.
Abel said even if all 23,000 dedicated Facebook quitters went ahead and closed their accounts, it would be a drop in the ocean considering the site has nearly 500 million members.
"I don't think these two guys in Toronto are going to have their 'Betty White' moment with this. They're just not. Facebook is extremely popular and rightly so. I mean I don't think anybody really thinks that the Facebook concept of social networking is bad. Some of the implementations are bad, some of the cavalier approaches to privacy are bad, they can be corrected, they ought to be corrected, Facebook ought to do more, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, but social networks are extremely important in our lives now. Extremely important," Abel said.
It's also proved to be an extraordinary revenue raiser. The private company, based in Palo Alto, California, does not disclose financial data, though analysts estimate its 2009 revenue ranges from $500 million to $650 million (USD). How does it make money? From selling online ads targeted at users based on their activity and profile information.
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