For the second time (first was in 2014) I have deleted my Facebook account. It ought to be the last, but as they say about saying “never”.

My reactivation in 2015 was a need to have an account for a course project, then I had a few web sites for clients where I needed to post updates to their pages. Then I had this idea I could not understand or investigate the blue wall from the outside. I kept a light profile, I never clicked reaction buttons. I stayed logged out, and maybe went in once a seek to mostly look around.

I could say many conversations by friends I could have easily jumped into, and more and more I see people conversing there than in twitter or the dead blogs left by the side of the road (this is your cue Sandy to jump in ;-).

Some may think it’s the repeated rounds of losing catfishing extermination efforts. No, that really does not affect me as much at all as the scam victims.

There is the stink of the elections around it, being eviscerated so well this week by Mike Caulfield.

There is this utter nonsense:

I’ve said it way too many times, but I cannot shake the bad mojo I get from Facebook. A voice was in the back of my brain, it was that of Kate Bowles I heard while on a panel with her at University of Mary Washington. Skipping the explanation, she just says she does not do Facebook, and here are the ways to get in touch with her.

Kate’s conviction stayed with me, and I knew the second fork was poised.

It’s the “inevitability” of Facebook that grates at me too. “Everybody is on it”, like a big country.

My tweeted mashuo of that frigging cliché

My tweeted mashup of that frigging cliché

Or that people cannot part from the network there. I believe them, but that’s not true for me.

Or that it’s the only way to stay in touch with family, friends. When I read that, what I hear is a failure of technological literacy.

Because when I posted my last Facebook update…

My last status update in Facebook

My last status update in Facebook

… within an hour, one friend (the real kind, not the click kind) called me on the phone.

I did not deactivate, I took the nuclear option. There is nothing in my account I even needed to download. They don’t make it easy, but in my post I did have the direct link And of course, you get like 95 prompt boxes offering ways to change a deleter’s mind.

I am so sure!

I am so sure!

Then you get thrown captchas that are impossible to read.

Good luck getting past this captcha

Good luck getting past this captcha

I went for the audio captcha.

And once that is done, it’s still not done. If I login in the next 14 days, they will revert my deletion.

Oh the temptation is… naught.

I can say that after my first deletion, when I went back to create an account, it was empty, and it felt like they really did delete my information. Of course, there is no real way of knowing for sure.

I am not looking for anyone to defend their use of Facebook (ok, Sandy? I get your reasons). I know it works for many people. I am not telling anyone that they are slimy for being in Facebook.

It’s just not something I can do without getting all itchy in the conscious. And that the power that Facebook has is only what we give them.



Top / Featured Image: A slight remix of a flickr photo by Joshua Rappeneker shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license. I brushed out the green sprig and burned a Facebook logo in the meat.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. I love that you did it. I do. I just can’t help thinking that if I left every platform that had heinous management, took advantage of my data, fed me stuff I didn’t want, pushed ads at me, was hard to use properly, or amplified stupidity, I’d have almost no networking tools at all. Including Twitter.

    1. True that. I’m not being that consistent, and by no means are twitter, Google any more virtuous. The parr that compounds it for me is how every aspect of Facebook is designed to keep you in their ecosystem. At least twitter and Google face more outward.

  2. For what it’s worth, it has been years since I deleted mine and I have never been back. I tell my students ‘I do not do Facebook because I have ethical concerns about it’. Some students ask why and I give them stuff to read and make up their own mind.

    Yet, what Lisa says has been playing on my mind for a while. I may end up with no more social media, just a website (and my academic one does not even have comments, because of trolls). The more I read about critical internet studies (academics that seem more interested in explanation than indoctrination) the more I see that there is no running away from how our ‘playbor’ is commoditised by unsavoury characters who set themselves up as saving the world. I feel more and more uneasy about that these days.

    Then there is the dishonesty in users, conscious or not; as Tressie says in her wonderful Medium article: “The iron cage, as Weber called it, depends on this kind of distance between the ritual myth about what a bureaucracy says it is (e.g. “a people business!”) and what it actually does (e.g. sell marketing).” We might say ‘connecting’ but what we are actually doing is voluntary slave labour for social media tycoons.

    I am wondering about the Signal App for friends but it is only a matter of time before it kneels at the altar of greed….

    I hope you do not miss it too much.

    And, for what it’s worth, I do not think it is about a failure of technological literacy, it is about the basic human need for inclusion. This word is bounced about in our little echo chamber, yet rarely any mention of the years of study within social psychology about what makes humans act, rarely any mention that humans are much less purposeful than they think they are…we follow the crowd and Mark knows how to milk this for profit much in the same way as a certain president elect does.

    I will keep coming to your wee blog and reading 🙂

  3. I log into Facebook once a year to thank people for wishing me a happy birthday and to remind them how to actually contact me. (Not on Facebook.)

    Good for you. Facebook is creepy.

  4. Right there with you, buddy. Oct. 7, before the last of the election nonsense. Still feeling great about it. FB and Twitter, both gone. Feels awesome.

    I found it kind of hilarious that in the States, you can buy a gun over the counter, but deleting a facebook account requires a 30-day cooling-off period…

    But – we might need some kind of Reclaim Hosting community site. A DIY FB/twitter/stream thing. Maybe a shared Known site? Actually, that’d be killer. Timmmmmmy?

      1. I just sent a request into the Reclaim Hosting executive team to ask if that was something they’d be interested in. There is an existing site that could be repurposed…

  5. Good to hear, Alan…

    I kicked fb to the curb in 2013 or so, after realizing how much time and effort it was draining from my attempts to finish my thesis. My wife still sends me fb links…

    I, too, get the contradiction in turfing fb yet maintaining a presence in the Twitters and Google. I do get the feeling from the ads I see on Twitter that Twitter sucks at figuring out who I am and what I like, so there’s that.

    I do keep my gmail address, but I’ve told Google not to save my searches and such, likely to no effect. Perhaps it’s time to jump to an email on my own domain. I can’t really think of a great reason to continue with gmail, certainly not for the same reasons ppl use to justify fb. Just a matter of changing my email on a boatload of subscriptions I never read (present feed excepted, or course)…or not changing my email on a boatload of subscriptions…there’s that option too.

    It was good seeing you and catching up a little IRL at OpenEd!


  6. Hey, Alan – I only have a minute here but just want to thank you for writing so well & so honestly throughout your FB battles… very helpful for many, I think.

    I am a Facebook conscientious objector. Never joined, so never quit. Like Mariana, I just let people know how to get in touch with me – and I reassess the platforms I use regularly. It’s important to share & discuss our decisions, and our rarely-straightforward decision processes. As always, you do this so well. Cheers… and see ya on the web 🙂

  7. Facebook seems to fill the need for gloating or complaining. I like it because it’s just enough connection I need for most people, acquaintances and family included. I enjoy connecting with people I knew in high school and people I worked with. When someone’s posts annoy me, I turn them off of my news feed. I guess it’s not for everybody!
    Turning Facebook off sounds a lot like my experience shutting down Mom’s email account. I bet it’s still around…

  8. Like Catherine and Mariana, I don’t use FB for ethical reasons, but I’m not particularly purist about all platforms, for the same reason that I try not to eat factory farmed meat but I’m not vegetarian, let alone vegan. FB is the factory for me, in its reach, scale and motivation. But I have colleagues who conscientiously don’t use Google, I know many women who won’t go near Reddit as a protest, and I think we all have misgivings about Twitter from time to time. So I feel that in social media as with most things, we each settle where we do, we offer our custom where we do.

    What I find interesting about FB though is that when you say “actually, I don’t” I’m constantly asked how I manage. This normalisation is really something we need to speak about.

    Making smaller community circles (reclaim etc) seems like a fruitful thing. I also really appreciate that for Twitter is about accidental meetings with strangers. Maybe we need to be careful not to outsource this serendipity entirely to dating sites.

    1. Thanks for the “meaty” metaphor 😉 Seriously, I will borrow that one.

      For an upcoming workshop I am digging in a bit more to the Visitors/Resident models, and regardless of how that works for people, the idea that we need to think about such spaces on a spectrum, not fixed end points (“Facebook Great!” vs “Facebook Evil!”) and the location for an individual depends on their intents and past experiences.

    2. Yes!

      “What I find interesting about FB though is that when you say “actually, I don’t” I’m constantly asked how I manage. This normalisation is really something we need to speak about.”

      Kate, I often wondered about this very thing. Even my family mock me for ‘missing out’ and try to coerce me into rejoining. Ken Bauer once said to me about something else: “We need to remember we are not the normal ones”. I guess this applies here.

      Talking to my students about the stuff the Critical Internet Studies folk study and speak to so well, feels important too. There is a way in which what we do with these platforms submerges their intent and moral (or not) economies…They know how to manipulate human needs well for personal profit. Free is really a lie. As Helen Beetham said in a recent post: “when we help students into those unregulated spaces where their learning is unfettered by institutional management systems, assessment deadlines and fair use rules, we are not sending them into the country of the free”

      We need to talk about this much more too.

    3. I really like your point Kate about normalisation. My daughter’s school have a Facebook Page for each student. My wife loves the convenience, however I am shamed into feeling guilty.
      There are so many other possibilities, just not sure how to overcome the easy factor. I have rambled on a bit more about it here

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