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How to survive without Facebook

It’s become a bland graveyard, but despite its shortcomings and carelessness with privacy, we’re all still using it

The reasons for deleting your Facebook page are endless. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, revealing that 50 million people’s private data had been given away through the platform, people have been raging against the company. The scandal has managed to tap into thousands of tin-hat theories while being grounded in very real concerns about how your personal information can be manipulated and used against you, and the public, by massive corporations.

Ex-fashion trend forecaster and whistleblower Chris Wylie revealed to The Observer that he used the data harvested from Facebook to build “Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindfuck tool” in the run-up to Trump’s election, and there were concerns that it was also used during Brexit by Leave campaigners. Even Elon Musk decided this week to delete his Tesla and Spacex Facebook pages – albeit on a dare.

So, with these very legitimate concerns around Facebook mounting, just how can you leave the platform? Is it even achievable at this stage, considering it’s the only place you can go to to find out the date of your best mate’s birthday as your memory is already failing you in very early adulthood (yes, I’m referencing myself)?

USE OTHER PLATFORMS

One of Facebook’s biggest crimes is how boring it is – it has this nasty, cold, dated aesthetic, and the option to post pictures as statuses has made for a visually uninspiring platform, while also means it’s flooded with colourful but dull requests for things you could just google.

So if you’ve been put off by Facebook, try other platforms out and develop a new online community; but beware – most of them come with their own pitfalls. Personally, I stopped regularly scrolling through my Facebook TL when it became mostly populated with oversharers and older relatives posting like it was 2004, around early 2017.

The most obvious alternative is Twitter, which has its own established micro-communities (and is great fun if you like keeping up with the news and, unlike me, are good at being funny). WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook but which has end-to-end encryption, is the clearest alternative to Facebook Messenger, but there’s also secure messenger Signal. Remember Ello? Nah, just joking. You could even backtrack to your dodgy emo years and login to Tumblr if you want to keep up with your photo sharing, as Instagram is also owned by Facebook. Find more Facebook alternatives here.

DO IT IN STAGES

If, like me, you’re finding it difficult to care a huge amount about Facebook data harvesting on a personal level, why not try getting rid of your addiction to the little blue and white wizard in stages for self-care reasons? About three months ago I deleted the app off my phone – leaving only FB messenger – and it has genuinely changed my life. Most of my notifications are boring AF anyway, and now going on the TL is a special occasion. It has also meant I now only post “meaningful” things – which, in this context is arguably not a good thing, but at least it gives Facebook a less regular insight into my general psyche. According to statisa, in 2017 95 per cent of Facebook users browsed on their phones, compared to just 31 percent on a laptop or desktop computer. Scrolling is addictive, boring, often pointless and now it looks like it might be dangerous too. Look up from the little screens.

SAVE THE IMPORTANT STUFF

One of the reasons I was loathed to permanently delete Facebook is because of all of the thousands of memories, photos and chats that it holds. Some of those things are precious and I want to be able to look back on them – almost like a real-time diary – in the future. I’m still sad that I can’t access my old Bebo page, tbh. But there are ways around this. If you do want to delete, do some copy-pasting, screenshotting, get yourself a hard drive and download all of your pictures (and the ones you untagged yourself from, you snake). If you still trust the corporation itself after all its nonsense, just use their ‘Download Your Info’ button which apparently lets your download pretty much everything: your chats, Timeline, posts you have shared, messages, photos and more.

GET A LIFE IRL

If you’ve gone Facebook-free and you don’t now clog up your life with a dozen other applications to make up for it, now is the perfect time to get a hobby that maybe involves going outdoors or at least interacting with people IRL. Don't be a slob.

IF YOU CAN'T DELETE

I will continue to use Facebook Messenger from time to time, and not berate myself for it. Like for so many of us, Facebook has become intimately embedded into my life and essential for my work that I couldn't delete it fully even if I wanted to. Even so, it's good that pressure is mounting on the company through #DeleteFacebook, to hold it accountable for its actions. It's on track for its worst week in shares in four years thanks to the campaign and there's nothing that shakes up the money men behind mega-media monsters like Facebook more than the thought of losing cash.