Goodbye, Facebook

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I decided to stop using Facebook after being an original member for over a decade. This isn’t a decision I made lightly just to follow a trend, to be “Cool,” or edgy. I don’t consider myself addicted to it. I need to stop using Facebook because I am a man of principles, and Facebook’s policy of heavy handed censorship goes against those principles.

When the Internet and the World Wide Web became popularized in the 1990’s, I, like many people, created a web page. Many people used Geocities, but I came to prefer Tripod. This static web page was a way for old friends to find me, for extended family to keep up with our family, and for me to share my interests and hobbies, much like how Facebook is used today. The last update I made to this web page was on July 29, 2000, and you can still see my old web page here.

Tripod had its limitations; primarily, I wanted to be able to host files, and the advertisements were really making a mess of my web page. Also, they had “Terms of Service” which made it possible for them to remove my content at any time for any reason. At this point, I registered my first domain name, and set up a Red Hat Linux computer in my home office, where I hosted my own web site. Meanwhile, having married and raising my child, I wanted to get in touch with long lost school friends, so I tried services like classmates.com, but they wanted money and offered little in return. I also enjoyed using Internet forums for various hobbies, such as retro computing, cars, and debating. Then Facebook came along as an answer to everything.

Facebook gave for free what classmates was trying to sell. I signed up in 2007 with a joint account shared with my wife, but then in March of 2008, we set up our own individual accounts.

Facebook friends with Sally since 2008

Facebook seemed to deliver everything I needed; I was able to connect with old and new friends, keep people up to date, keep up to date with others, share my interests and hobbies, and participate in forums which Facebook likes to call groups.

One of the groups I participated in was one of religious debate. I have many religious friends and understand that a lot of people are turned off by this sort of thing, so I don’t really discuss it on my main page or with people who aren’t interested in engaging in such a debate, and I don’t really go into it on my blog here, so I joined a closed group that was specifically for religious debate as this is one of my few “Guilty Pleasures.”

The question of creation is a debate topic that comes up every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and instead of participating in an existing debate, some people will rudely start a new one. It gets tedious after a while. This particular example pictured above is one that appeared in “Top Posts” for some reason, and I found it rather offensive, so I decided to respond with some humour. I posted a link to a public Youtube video entitled, “Goat shagging,” and jokingly suggested that perhaps this was how the poster was created, a tongue-in-cheek way to say we were all “created” through sexual reproduction.

Within minutes, I got a notification that my post went against community standards. I admit, my post was in poor taste, and I expected that, if someone complained, the post would be deleted. However, I was shocked when I couldn’t even update my status or even wish my friends a happy birthday:

At the time, I was told that I could not post for three days. When I clicked on “This is a Mistake,” I got the following:

Of course, if anyone did a review, they did not contact me further nor did they do anything about this problem, which is this: I agree that, even in a closed debate group, some humour can go too far and a post should get removed to keep a debate on topic. I can also agree that Facebook should be able to remove people from groups. What I don’t agree with is censorship that is so heavy handed, I am unable to post even a status update on my own timeline for some arbitrary period of time.

I can live without Facebook for three days. The problem is, Facebook is well known for their heavy handed censorship policies. I am generally opposed to censorship, but especially when it comes to my voice. For over a decade, I’ve used Facebook to communicate with friends and family, and have come to realize that Facebook can arbitrarily determine that something I posted in a closed debate group may have offended someone, even if no offence was intended, and censor me from posting anything for however long they want. I can’t have that.

I have decided that Facebook’s heavy handed censorship policies are in violation of my principals, and so I’ve decided to fire Facebook, and that this blog on my web site will be my primary means of sharing what’s going on in my life with friends and family from now on. Over the next few months, I will be removing my content from Facebook and bringing it here, until the only thing that will remain on Facebook will be a link to pquirk.com. You’re fired, Facebook. It’s been nice knowing you.

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