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Why I undeleted my Facebook account

Written by Michael Earls
 EXIF  facebook  featured  privacy

OK, I lasted a few days anyway. I decided to undelete my Facebook account before it was too late. However, I tightened my security and privacy settings so that I would not get Friend requests from complete strangers.

I decided to undelete the account because there is no better way to keep in touch with distant friends and relatives than Facebook. I am already “in the system” (as my friend Sean has pointed out), so it doesn’t matter what I do from this point forward.

I was also wrong about the photo data that is stored. Facebook strips the EXIF data from photos (I’m not sure if they store the images with the EXIF data intact and then strip it when you view the image, or if they strip it when you upload it). Here is an article concerning the privacy of Photo data.

Also, here is the privacy tab on Facebook that you can use to set some limits.

Why I deleted my Facebook account

Written by Michael Earls
 facebook  privacy

I have been very laid back when it comes to personal privacy. However, I saw a list tonight of the data that Facebook stores about me and it made me very uneasy. The two things that stood out the most were:

  • Photo metadata – this includes information like whether or not you used the flash, the make and model of your phone/camera, and, most disturbingly, the GPS coordinates of where the picture was taken
  • Facial recognition data – they store a few numbers that represent your face to make it “easier for others to tag you in posts”. I have seen how well this works as it sometimes would automatically tag people when I posted a picture.

I downloaded all of the data that Facebook had on me (you can go to settings to get to the download) and it is crazy how much information I have given away over the last many years. Not only is there information about me, but they also know who my friends are and all of the information about them, too.

It’s a marketers dream cache, and I’ve been playing along this whole time like there was nothing wrong with it. I realize that they can survive without my data, but that doesn’t bother me. I don’t want Facebook to fail, I simply want to opt out of their game. If other people find that giving away all of that information about them is worth the benefits they get from using Facebook, then I see nothing wrong with that. It’s much like my views on drugs, guns, and alcohol. I don’t use them, but if you want to do it (and it doesn’t hurt anyone else), then more power to you.

I realize that there’s not really a viable alternative to keeping up with the people in your life, but I’m hoping that the important people still contact me via this blog or my email address.

I’m still using LinkedIn and Twitter, as these are a little bit less invasive. LinkedIn is a good professional connections service and I’m not too concerned with what data they have about me (except that I somehow had a lapse of judgement and gave them access to my Facebook profile). Twitter is mostly harmless and I use it to get information on software development. I only follow a few celebrities (mostly Science Fiction actors/actresses), and they don’t produce any excessive drama.

It will be interesting to see what I’ll do with the free time that I’ll gain from not spending so much time browsing Facebook and getting stressed out over things that I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.