And have you left Twitter?

This was the question recently posed by a friend at the end of an email.

The quick answer is yes!

I have also deleted my LinkedIn, Google+ and about.me profiles.

The next question I presume would be to ask me why?

To be frank, despite my long and illustrious association with the Internet and the various communication protocols it carries, I’ve never been much of a social networker. I’ve never used Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest – and don’t have any burning desire to!

I have been a member of the LinkedIn community since 2004. I viewed it as a handy tool for making business contacts and perhaps career development, but that view has changed. I found their ‘people you may know‘ recommendations disturbingly accurate. I don’t like an algorithm being able to piece together my social interactions in such fine detail. Next it was the nagging endorsement solicitations, avoiding them was harder than dodging chuggers.

The final nail in the coffin was the weekly ‘profile views’ email showing exactly who had been looking me up. At first it was interesting in a voyeuristic way, but it quickly dawned on me that the owners of the profiles I’d been idly browsing would also receive these notifications. The day I received an email from LinkedIn with a smiling photo of one of my exes, I took affirmative action and deleted my account.

Twitter is a slightly different story. Again I was a fairly early adopter, opening my account in January 2009. As an information broadcast medium I like the Twitter model. I used it primarily for keeping up to date with local events and entertained myself by trolling service companies (Hello @O2 & @SW_Trains !)

What I wasn’t comfortable with however was the realisation that I had become slightly addicted to the constant stream of news and miscellany. Feeding my information junkie habit became an all too frequent distraction.

So I decided to go cold turkey and simply uninstalled the mobile app. After a couple of days the urge to automatically check Twitter (after email and BBC News) gradually subsided.

Let’s see how long I last ­čÖé

The Proprietary Internet

When I started my career working at a fledgling ISP I fondly remember the great excitement of seeing email addresses and URLs first appear on advertising billboards and TV. My hitherto secret world of email, newsgroups and (latterly) web sites was no longer restricted to the techie community and was gaining widespread public adoption.

After a while people didn’t look at me with puzzled expressions when I spoke about my work, and instead they wanted to learn more about this new World Wide Web thing and the odd @ / symbols that were spreading like wildfire in the conventional media.

I felt a sense of pride that we were all working together on a global infrastructure with open standards and unfettered access to content.

That was in 1992 and since then a lot has changed online. I don’t need to go into that.

What I’ve been experiencing in the last couple of years with proprietary and closed social networks is disturbing and quite contrary to the original Internet ethos of sharing and collaboration.

The biggest culprit of what I am complaining about is Facebook.

I do not have a Facebook account, nor do I want one. I know who my real friends are, I’m not interested in resuming contact with forgotten acquaintances and I don’t feel the need to collect new ‘friends’ like a virtual Panini sticker album.

Aside from Facebook just not being relevant to me or my daily life, I don’t want to share my personal details with any more organisations that I don’t trust.

So what’s the problem then? I don’t need Facebook and Facebook doesn’t need me.

My problem is that just like I saw email addresses and web URLs go mainstream, I now see facebook.com links instead.

Instead of feeling excited about exploring these products and brands online, I now feel excluded.

Every time I see a facebook.com address instead of a regular company domain name it’s another nail in the coffin of the open and inclusive Internet that I helped to build.

So why this post? It’s a plea to everyone to pull your content from Facebook and embrace the open Internet instead. You’re reading my views right now without registration, so why should I be forced to divulge my personal details and commodify myself┬ájust to view yours?

How to permanently delete a Facebook account

 

It would seem that following the ‘deactivate account’ link in Facebook does not actually delete your account or remove your profile. Your account just goes into a limbo state and is automatically reactivated if you log in again.

If you want to permanently delete your Facebook account, follow this link to http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account

After submitting the form you should receive a confirmation email like this:

Subject: Account Scheduled for Deletion

Hi Victor,

We have received a request to permanently delete your account. Your account has been deactivated from the site and will be permanently deleted within 14 days.

If you did not request to permanently delete your account, follow this link to cancel this request:

http://www.facebook.com/account_delete.php

Thanks,

The Facebook Team

As long as you do not log into your Facebook account again with two weeks then your account will be permanently deleted.

Update: Have a read of Gizmodo’s Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook if you weren’t convinced already.