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Goodbye, Facebook.
So long, farewell...

December 23, 2011

Since the day it launched, I have maintained a (very) sparse presence on The Facebook: my name, e-mail address, and personal web site. Though I never agreed with Mark's approach to connecting people, initially I wanted to be able to sign in to locate the contact information for my fellow students. That is, after all, why I built its predecessor in the first place.

I don't do that anymore, and I haven't for a long time. Still, I maintained a presence, as it seemed wrong to be excluded from the end result of one's own work.

Today, I saw Facebook's Timeline feature first-hand for the very first time. To say I am appalled is an understatement. For a good summary as to why, see http://www.betabeat.com/2011/12/23/exclusive-leaked-details-of-how-facebook-plans-to-sell-your-timeline-to-advertisers/. More than ever, Facebook is behaving in the same manner as the tobacco companies of yesteryear.

Timelines in general can be quite valuable tools, but in keeping with a long-established pattern of ruining useful things, Facebook's version is reprehensible. Instead, Facebook has become designed to foster addiction, just like cigarettes. Instead of weakened lung capacity, you end up with weakened social relationships.

The particular manner in which Facebook has constructed its Timeline crosses another line: the boundary between Too Much Information and the Surveillance State, whether privatized or not. I can only barely stand the former, but I will not participate in the latter.

Perhaps the best gift you can give to friends and family this holiday season is freedom from the social entrapment and massive deception that is lining the pockets of the few (Mark and his employees) at the expense of the many. I know it's not easy. On houseSYSTEM, my Facebook ID number was 1; on Mark's site, it was 82. Nonetheless, I just requested deletion of my Facebook account, permanently.

Happy holidays.

Aaron Greenspan is the CEO of Think Computer Corporation and author of Authoritas: One Student's Harvard Admissions and the Founding of the Facebook Era. He is the creator of the FaceCash mobile payment system, ThinkLink business management system, and PlainSite legal transparency project.

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Brenda Malone
January 7, 2013 at 8:30 PM ST

I, too, reject Facebook. It fosters bullying among teens and can ruin fragile lives. It's disgusting and I'll have no part of it.

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