Should you stay or should you go? The big Facebook debate

Facebook has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, and if news of personal data exploits has made you question your presence on there, we’ve got some useful advice.

The good stuff

Facebook is great for keeping up with friends and family. It’s why so many people use it to remain in touch with those who aren’t a short car journey away and for rediscovering old school friendships. It’s also great for getting people involved in good causes and for sharing your hobby with likeminded enthusiasts.

Facebook at its best can give you a voice in a noisy digital society. Yet, while it’s generally fine when used in moderation, using Facebook to distribute every little detail about your life across the globe is risky.

The mantra ‘keep something back’ has perhaps never been more apt, following Mark Zuckerberg’s admission that the recent data scandal was the result of a “breach of trust”.

The bad stuff

What would you achieve by deleting your Facebook profile?

If you’ve been subjected to bullying, stalking or harassment on Facebook, removing yourself from the service isn’t a sign that the other party has ‘won’. In fact, it may help you cope, recover and thrive.

There may be a simpler reason you want to delete your Facebook profile, too. Perhaps the recent news stories have raised enough of a concern about your personal data remaining on the service to make you take action. Equally, you may simply not use Facebook very much anymore.

At its worst (although not be design), Facebook can turn into a platform used by people to prey on the vulnerable and the young, turning many into victims and witnesses of online crime. It can exploit the use of personal data, too – especially when it comes to invasive advertising.

Deleting your Facebook profile might provide peace of mind that your data is no longer contained on one of their servers, but it may also remove you from an online world that has proved troublesome for your health and wellbeing.

What is Facebook doing about the recent privacy scandal?

Zuckerberg has pledged to introduce tools that will enable users to see all of the personal data Facebook holds about them. This should mean you’ll be able to download your own copy or request that it be destroyed.

If you decide to fully delete your Facebook account, people won’t be able to see you on there any longer. It may, however, take up to 90 days to delete all of the things you’ve posted.

How do I delete my account?

Deleting your Facebook account permanently isn’t a quick job, but this excellent guide from Wired will help you remove yourself completely from the service.

A note on personal data

It’s important to remember that our personal data is already ‘out there’ in many ways. But as individuals we all have the right to make our own decisions and remove ourselves from services that we no longer trust, or which have proved to be challenging, socially.

There are limits to what can and can’t be published in the realms of public decency and respect, but the online world isn’t policed. Facebook therefore has a duty to protect its users’ data, but for as long as your data is on a server somewhere, it’ll remain at risk of cybercrime or misuse.

Deleting your Facebook profile might feel like a wrench, but remember – you can always return in future when you feel better about things.

A question of choice

Before deleting your Facebook profile, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I want to be part of Facebook?
  • What will I use it for?
  • Do I really need it?
  • Do I feel safe on Facebook?
  • Do I really mind if my personal data is offered up to advertisers?

If your answers to the above aren’t positive, it might be time to remove yourself from Facebook.

If you’ve experienced stalking, harassment or bullying on Facebook, it’s important you get the help and support you need. The team at Voice have years of experience helping people cope, recover and thrive from online harassment. When you’re ready to talk, get in touch.

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