Archive for June 2010

Today was supposed to be ‘Quit Facebook Day’ to protest the site’s loose privacy controls. Thousands of people signed a petition to quit, and apparently¬†about 34,000 of them did. That is a paltry number compared to the hundreds of millions that are still members.

Why didn’t millions of people delete their Facebook account to protest? I think there are two reasons (for some reason, I’m using a Biblical analogy): No Moses and No Promised Land.

No Moses: If I pull out my high-school version of The Rules and Etiquette of Cliques (because really that is what Facebook feeds from), it is because none of the ‘cool kids’ deleted their accounts. If Ashton Kutcher can acquire over one million fans to his Facebook profile and Twitter feed, then he could start the stampede of users to leave Facebook. He may not be my choice to lead me out of Facebook’s promiscuous privacy policies, but lots of people will follow him. If enough Ashton Kutcher’s leave, your friends start to leave, and then the floodgates will open.

No Promised Land: Even if you wanted to quit, where would you go? Is there a Promised Land of safe sharing where you will not have to suffer the indignity of seeing your profile picture in an ad? Not really. The alternatives are¬†not really choices at all, according to Robert Cringley. LinkedIn might be the best alternative for professional networking, but for posting pictures of your dogs and sharing the fact that you bought a chicken coop in Farmville, there isn’t a credible alternative.

So as the Quit Facebook group discovered, being the group that says ‘No’ is not the way to initiate change. If you want Facebook to update its policies, find or build a true alternative and find a face to champion your cause. Nothing will change Facebook faster than millions of members following trusted leaders for the Promised Land.