I Quit Facebook (Sort Of...)

May 5, 2010

I can’t remember exactly when I joined Facebook. I think it was early 2005. We had some great moments together back then, when poking was fun and there was no such thing as a news feed or photo albums, and certainly no applications. There also wasn’t much spam. It was a simpler time.

But it’s over now. Facebook’s gone too far. And besides, I haven’t logged in more than once every couple of months since early 2008. It hasn’t been fun or useful for awhile. So yesterday I “disabled” my account. I think that means I can restore my account at any time. Meaning my data still exists in a Facebook database somewhere. But importantly, my computer won’t have Facebook’s cookie on it as I cruise around the internet.

Why is this important? Because Facebook is partnering with a bunch of sites to help them get data about me when I visit, and the link between me and my data is that little Facebook cookie. Without the cookie, no other site will be able to know anything about me from Facebook. Facebook’s partners to start are sites like Pandora, Yelp and Microsoft’s Docs.com. And I have nothing in particular against any of those sites. But in the future there will be many more partner sites, perhaps a majority of sites, and it scares me to think that by just arriving at a site’s landing page the owner will know a ton of stuff about me.

Another reason for quitting is that I see Facebook pushing to be the single identity provider on the web, and I don’t want them to win. This is even more scary. Imagine if every site on the web required you to authenticate with your Facebook username and password. In a way this would be nice, since you wouldn’t have to remember the tons and tons of passwords you do now. But I don’t want that forced upon me by Facebook. I want to be able to choose my identity provider, the same way I can choose my webmail provider. OpenID and OAuth are open standards that support choice in identity providers. Google supports OpenID. Yahoo! supports OpenID. Blogger and Flickr support OpenID. Wordpress supports OpenID. Facebook does not. Facebook wants to restrict choice in identity management, and that’s bad.

So I (half) quit. I could come back, but I don’t forsee it happening. And I’m guessing nobody will miss me. I didn’t post a status update about it, so I imagine most of my “friends” won’t ever realize I’m gone.

P.S. You probably already have an OpenID that you can use to log in to a lot of sites without setting up a new account. Find out here.

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