Jan7

Facebook Hiatus: Week One

Posted by Kelly Kirkham

To start the year off on the right foot, I have committed myself to thirty days completely Facebook free. Read as I attempt to complete weekly goals in the hours I once spent cruising news feeds.

I’ve done it! I’ve taken the plunge. I posted my goodbyes and deactivated my Facebook account, not to be reactivated for a total of thirty days. For those who wish to join me in my pilgrimage, here’s a quick how-to guide. To catch up on what you may have missed concerning my New Year’s resolution here.

To deactivate your own Facebook account:

  1. Log in to your account.
  2. Click the account menu (small arrow) at the top right of your page.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Select Security in the left column.
  5. Choose the option Deactivate your account.
  6. Follow the confirmation steps.
  7. Enjoy the additional 11 hours of each month (on average).
  8. Tell me about your success (or not so much success) on Twitter @Midphase.

If taking this action makes you nervous you can have Facebook automatically reactivate your account after a certain amount of time. Deactivating your account is not the same as deleting your account entirely. Think of it as pressing pause on your Facebook activity. You can reactivate your account at any time.

This is not an attempt to recruit non-Facebookers to my cause, merely a helpful guide in the event that my readers too have experienced frustrations or concerns about how prevalent this seemingly small tool is to our daily life.

In the final days of my Facebook usage I noticed a something that was strange enough to allow me to feel justified in my New Year’s hiatus. As I was browsing the day’s happenings I noticed a sponsored post in my readings; quite common really. The surprising aspect was that the ad was for a tee shirt with a strangely specific message. Said tee shirt featured an antique typewriter (a slight obsession of mine) with the words “ Never underestimate a woman with great writing skills.”  Suffice to say I immediately fell in love with the shirt and decided that I must purchase it immediately.

And then I stopped. The fact that Facebook knew enough about my hobbies, gender and occupation kind of freaked me out. Female is selected in my profile so I understand how they got that one right, but I have never actually documented anything pertaining to writing or my strange obsession with typewriters. Facebook has gathered this information from the bits and pieces of information gathered from my online activity.

This might seem like a paranoid rant (not intended) but it really did sit too close for comfort that Facebook was able to target me so accurately. This, of course, is not dangerous in any way – only alarming that I am so intimately associated with computer application. Honestly, I don’t think my boyfriend could have picked out something so enticing, but Facebook was able to target me perfectly.

Therefore, I moved forward with my plans to abandon Facebook, and feel all the more comfortable with the decision.

I am not the only Facebook user who have noticed the somewhat creepy targeted ads. National Public Radio featured a story in 2014 outlining the miniscule details that Facebook uses to sell us goods and services.

NPR states that “The problem is this: The data-mining tools that glean our interests and choose our ads don’t fit into the complex flow of information we’ve spent our lives charting and mastering. We don’t have a map that tells us how a particular bit of information made it from Point A to Point B, nor the social context that gives us insight into why.”

This is why when we see suggested posts with an ad for a hoodie emblazoned with “[your last name] is the boss” we shrug it off because we know exactly where Facebook found this information – we gave it to them. But when I decide I really want a puppy and Facebook bombards me with dog food products without any particular prompting from me, it tends to get a little weird.

Targeted advertisements are not Facebook particular, we are beginning to see them just about everywhere we go. This fact does not make them any more familiar. NPR explains “Current information-tracking practices have many people worried about privacy, but perhaps it isn’t the feeling of being watched, per se, that can make personalized advertising so unnerving. Perhaps it’s the disconnected and distinctly asocial nature of the watcher.”

Hmm, definitely food for thought.

Be sure to follow Midphase.com/blog for more first-hand experiences while I leave Facebook behind in my 2015 adventures. Next stop: how to efficiently and effectively fill the extra hours in my day previously filled with social media.

How do you feel about targeted advertisements? Lets talk about it @Midphase

 

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