Like many of us, Andre Vrignaud has a love/hate relationship with Facebook.
“I find myself addicted to the product, itching to tap that little white ‘F’ in the pretty blue box over and over again during the day,” writes Vrignaud, a Seattle-area resident and tech industry veteran who is no stranger to taking on the giants of the industry. “I want to… and I don’t. I don’t because I am completely fed up with the company.”
Concerned about the social network’s privacy problems, Vrignaud tried quitting Facebook entirely for the past month. It was an illuminating experience.
- He writes that he missed the updates from his friends, the serendipitous memories, Facebook Groups and event notifications.
- He did not miss the “shallow moments” of social engagement or the “creepily targeted” ads.
- And he discovered just how difficult it is to actually quit Facebook. Quitting entirely “involves unwinding many, deep, and irritating tendrils,” he writes, given the social network’s vast reach across the online experience.
“A purist view might be to completely delete Facebook, and throw out the good with the bad,” he writes. “As of the beginning of 2019, I’m not quite there yet. I can squint and still see some value in what Facebook offers, not to mention the fact that I still have many friends on the network. So… what’s the pragmatic path forward? Is there a way to enjoy the benefits — while minimizing the risks — of using Facebook?”
He believes the answer is yes, and to prove it, he’s offering a “Pragmatic Facebook User Guide” that he plans to follow. Read his full post for details, but here are his basic components.
- Delete all of your Facebook or Facebook-owned applications from your mobile devices.
- Go through your friends, and delete anyone you haven’t had a meaningful relationship with in the last year.
- Set a weekly or monthly check in schedule.
- Only use Facebook from a desktop computer or laptop, and never mobile devices.
- When using Facebook from your PC or laptop, use browser add-ons that block Facebook from tracking you.
- Never use Facebook login on any third-party websites.
- Clear your browser cache and cookies on every PC you use.
- Refuse Facebook Calendar invites.
- Consider Reddit as a Facebook Feed and Groups replacement.
(Vrignaud works at Mozilla, leading mixed reality platform strategy, and he gives a shout-out to Mozilla’s Facebook Container Extension in the browser add-on bullet point above. However, he notes that this all started as a post for his friends on Facebook, and was written in his personal capacity, not in his official Mozilla role, and isn’t meant to reflect his employer’s viewpoint.)
So will his pragmatic approach work? We’ll plan to check in with Vrignaud after a few months to see how it’s going. And if anyone else out there decides to follow his formula, let us know and keep us posted.
P.S.: As a bonus, Vrignaud offers Facebook leaders a guide for becoming “a good, socially acceptable” company — urging the company to “stop deflecting and denying”; to admit that it’s addicted to driving engagement and ad sales; and to offer a legitimate subscription option, among other pieces of advice.