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Small business

Parting with Facebook ... it feels good to be free

July 13, 2012
Facebook

I won't miss Facebook, not even a little bit.

Cathartic. That’s the word I’d use to describe how it felt deleting my Facebook account last month. People keep asking if I miss it. The answer is always no.

No more sifting through pointless photos of the food that people are about to eat. No more relentless invitations to play juvenile games likes Farmville. No more dull mothers moaning about which child has the sniffles today. No more narcissists creating the illusion they’re living the perfect life. No more sufferers of relevance deprivation syndrome checking in wherever they go, especially at gyms and airline lounges.

But perhaps what I’ll miss the least is the way that businesses and employers have infiltrated Facebook – hijacked it, even – turning it into a marketplace where it once was simply an online forum at which mates could hang out. They’ve done this via three methods: snooping, friending, and spamming.

First, snooping. Research released late last year by Telstra revealed that a quarter of Australian employers troll job candidates’ social media profiles. Half of them have rejected applicants based upon what they found online.

It has reached the point where recruiters are asking prospective employees for their log-in details, leading to Facebook’s chief privacy officer declaring in March that such requests were “inappropriate”. As the University of New South Wales confirmed shortly afterwards, these requests may be inappropriate, but they’re certainly not illegal.

Let it be known to all employers: if you resort to spying on candidates’ Facebook profiles before hiring them, you really need to brush up on your interviewing skills. (Great recruiters aren’t that desperate.)

Second, friending. Did you know that ‘friend’ is now a verb as well as a noun, listed in the Oxford and Merriam-Webster dictionaries? The latter’s definition is “to act as the friend of”. It’s a curious choice of words. To 'act as the friend of' is very different than 'to be the friend of', which highlights the superficiality of amassing friends on Facebook, otherwise known as “friend whoring”. 

A common conundrum that occurs on Facebook is when employees receive a friend request from their boss. What should they do? To decline the request may lead to offence, the consequence of which could be a limited career. But to approve the request gives the boss access to personal information that might prejudice their opinion of the employee.

Recruitment firm Robert Half conducted a survey last year, which found that a third of employees are comfortable being friends with their boss on Facebook, and conversely, the same proportion of managers are happy friending the people they manage.

Among the survey’s conclusions were several warnings for employees. Untag yourself from embarrassing photos. Adjust your privacy settings so that your boss can’t see everything. Be mindful of the impression your boss will develop based upon the pages you’re a fan of and the groups you join. 

Third, spamming. I’m not referring here to the businesses that have Facebook pages from which you could easily unsubscribe. Nor am I referring to the display advertising that cunningly captures the words you use and the things you like to determine the ads you’ll see.

What I’m referring to are the people who start a new business and decide their friends on Facebook will be their target market. And so they incessantly spam them with links to their website; they implore them to join their fan page; and they inundate them with special offers – all while forgetting the timeless mantra of less is sometimes more.

Maybe they do it because it works. On a much larger (and more pernicious) scale a couple of months ago, Adscend Media, an American firm, was fined $100,000 for spamming on Facebook. It’s peanuts, really, considering they were raking in $1.2 million a month from Facebook spam. Or, rather, scam…

Ah, it feels good to be free.

What are your experiences with Facebook? Do you love it? Or hate it?

twitter Follow James Adonis on Twitter  @jamesadonis

Poll: Have you tried to quit Facebook? If so, how long did you last?

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Less than a day

7%

Less than a week

10%

Less than a month

11%

Six months or so

11%

Still going strong!

61%

Total votes: 4909.

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108 comments

  • It's pretty simple, you can limit the amount of spam you receive. If a 'friend' spams my feed, they are deleted. If they are a good friend, then it shouldn't be a problem, you have their phone number?

    Oh no they can't tag you? Diddums

    Just do a nice cull, it makes creating events easier and really limits how often you have to check it.

    Facebook is on the wain, on another Wayne, Bruce Wayne, Batman, so excited!!!!!!!!

    Commenter
    Farcebook
    Location
    Date and time
    July 13, 2012, 10:20AM
    • Nice article with good advice, but now you have quit Facebook, you are no longer qualified to comment on it. These things are new and evolving. Facebook, Google, Amazon etc are at the bleeding edge of Web3.0 and take the flak. I will drop Facebook tomorrow if there is a better way, but in the meantime I will use it to ride the wave of change towards a better online experience.

      Commenter
      Peter
      Location
      Sapporo
      Date and time
      July 13, 2012, 10:55AM
    • Peter: "but now you have quit Facebook, you are no longer qualified to comment on it"
      How soon does that happen? 1 day? 1 second? Is he no longer allowed after 1 millisecond? Have you heard about this thing called 'reflecting back on something'?

      "These things are new and evolving."
      Facebook is 8 years old. It has been doing much the same thing for 8 years, apart from adding things to try make a profit and so far failing. In the history of the web, it's a grand dad, and if it were an experiment into something, the conclusion is well known.

      "the bleeding edge of Web3.0"
      Buzz phrases are not actual descriptions. We've had "cyberspace", "information superhighway", "the cloud" etc. etc. but no one actually knows what any of them really mean - to run your life according to marketing terms is a little daft.

      Commenter
      Tom
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 13, 2012, 11:27AM
    • Super lols Peter, 'the wave of change'. Pretty sure you could have quit Facebook 3 years ago and still be able to pick it back up today without a worry. The only difference is the business and marketing addittions. It really has become marketbook and we are all just signed onto spambook. It started out as a perfect medium to stay in contact with friends locally and overseas, it just takes a whole lot more work to keep it this way. You really are earning your free facebook page these days.

      James Adonis is entitled to make a comment regarding Facebook, just as you, Peter and I are. Qualified? Better do a undergraduate in Facebook to be qualified to comment. Congratulations James, I am still yet to give up Facebook. Slightly jelly.

      Is knowone excited about my segway into Batman??

      Commenter
      Farcebook
      Location
      On facebook right meow
      Date and time
      July 13, 2012, 11:44AM
    • lol;.

      I'm with Tom. Bleeding Edge. Web3.0. Facebook is none of that.

      Commenter
      Timothy
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 13, 2012, 11:51AM
    • It is really great to see there are people who don't facebook (besides the author and myself).
      I haven't been on there for years! When I had an account - MySpace was all the rage, but when I realised that it was as pointless as playing SIMS (in real life) - I shut it down.

      No stress, no trauma, no snooping, no spam, and my 'friends' are real people that I see frequently. I loathe the idea of living vicariously through a webpage that is meant to represent 'your ideal self'. Life is so much better back to the land of the living!

      Commenter
      non-SIMS clone
      Location
      Land of the living
      Date and time
      July 13, 2012, 12:12PM
  • I did this over a year ago and I wholeheartedly agree, there's something very liberating about deleting the time thief and personal broadcasting service for the vain that is facebook. I didn't miss it one bit when I deleted it. Sure there are a few overseas people with whom it was more convenient to contact via facebook, but I soon realised that email still works pretty well and so does skype, and its far less impersonal and PR release in style to contact someone directly :-) .

    Commenter
    goodbye wastebook
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    July 13, 2012, 10:46AM
  • It annoys me when people who don't understand how to use something properly always resort to complaining about it and then dismissing it rather than educating themselves as to how best to use it. Firstly, "snooping" - set your Facebook privacy settings to Friends Only and untick the "included in search" option. Then no-one can (a) find you and (b) see your profile. Secondly, limit your 'Friends' to only real life friends and family, not strangers, acquaintances, work mates, etc. Then if the people you most dearly like and love post boring things, its because they are boring people, and should be a sign that you need new friends, not less Facebook. Thirdly "spamming' - having never had this problem I suggest this is a function of my point #2 and the same recommendation applies.
    I love Facebook - I use it to join groups where I can waffle on about things that would bore my own friends to death, to people who are equally fascinated by the same topics. My friends and I use Events to organise parties, movie nights, dinners - invitations which by extension include Friends of my Friends, so my social circle is constantly evolving and increasing. I keep up with the progress of my Friends kids who I have no desire to see in real life, but its nice to see photos of them occasionally. I connect with companies I like dealing with so I can access their specials, competitions, support and updates. Like all technology, when it is used appropriately it will enhance your life.

    Commenter
    Kaz
    Location
    Online
    Date and time
    July 13, 2012, 10:54AM
    • I think in many ways you prove the authors point in detailing the tight privacy controls you need to apply in order to make fb be less invasive. And that's still not mentioning the fact that FB keeps all your data (you don't own it just FYI) if you decided to leave.

      This comment in particular seems indicative of the superficial and pointless nature of so much that facebook vomits out:

      "I keep up with the progress of my Friends kids who I have no desire to see in real life, but its nice to see photos of them occasionally."

      If you don't care for these people in real life, why bother wasting time following their photos? As for all the other functions that facebook has, you can get that through other social media tools, but without all the trash that FB floods you with.

      Commenter
      wastebook
      Location
      Date and time
      July 13, 2012, 11:39AM
    • Considering Mark Z, likes to think he's a hacker, the reality is, an app, that can notify me of some email or post, and then take tens of minutes to actually update so I can see the full message or post is simply ridiculous.

      I quit Facebook simply for this reason. No its not my internet connection of phone. Its a POS app poorly written. Ditto the www site.

      It's not that I don't understand.

      Commenter
      Timothy
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 13, 2012, 11:49AM

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