Pacific United Planning, Inc. | Is it time to #DeleteFacebook?
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22 Mar Is it time to #DeleteFacebook?

Cell phone with Facebook logo on screen
IS IT TIME TO #DELETEFACEBOOK?

 

Birthday reminders, family pictures, memes for that mid-afternoon comic relief, or maybe recommendations for local businesses. However you use Facebook, it’s undeniable that this social network has seeped its way into our lives, into multiple generations, and influences how we see the world.

So when the news comes out that over 50 million users’ private information has been accessed and used to influence the elections, many of us are left thinking … so what now? Who’s viewing my information and how is it being used and protected? And the million-dollar question: Should I get off Facebook?

First, let’s wrap our heads around recent events.

WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED?

Cambridge Analytica accessed the data of millions of Facebook users. The data included details about users’ personal information, their networks of friends, and their “likes.” From this data, they created profiles of people and then zeroed in on them with digital ads to sway their voting behavior.

WHAT IS CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA?

Cambridge Analytica is a political data firm that collects data, analyzes it, and then combines that with strategic communication to influence elections. The company has been funded in large part by Robert Mercer, a major Republican donor, and Stephen K. Bannon, former advisor to President Trump. The firm was hired by President Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

WAS THIS A DATA BREACH?

Shadow man with briefcase running from Facebook background with user data

Well, no … and yes. When you create an account on Facebook, you consent to researchers accessing your data for academic purposes. What isn’t accepted is for this data to be given or sold to advertising networks or services such as data brokers. And that’s exactly what happened when Dr. Kogan, a Russian-American psychology professor at Cambridge University, gave 50 million profiles to Cambridge Analytica. In doing so, Dr. Kogan violated Facebook rules.

When Facebook found this out, they deleted Dr. Kogan’s app that allowed him to harvest this data. They received certification that the data was destroyed, but it turns out this was not the case. Investigations are now underway with the FTC, Congress, the British Parliament, and the attorney general of Massachusetts.

SO …SHOULD I DELETE FACEBOOK?

Facebook uninstall page on mobile app

First, ask yourself what you use Facebook for. If it’s just the occasional birthday reminder and funny meme, then maybe you wouldn’t miss it that much. But keep these points in mind.

Cons of deleting

  • Deleting your profile doesn’t stop them from tracking you, nor does it stop them from using the data they have already collected.
  • Facebook isn’t the only company that collects your data. Other companies will find ways to collect it and sell it, so in the long run, deleting your account probably won’t do that much for your data security.
  • Essentially, data security is more an issue of corporate surveillance. How are companies tracking and profiling everyone? Mobile devices are essentially tracking devices, and most of us would have a hard time leading our daily lives without them.
  • Small businesses rely on Facebook to reach their communities, and Facebook advertising has proven very effective to get new clients and keep businesses prospering. Even if you’re not a small business owner, most of us want to support them over their giant corporate counterpart.
  • It’s the Internet. Nothing will ever go away completely. A truth we must face in these modern times.
  • You’ll be out of touch. Whether with your community, family pictures and birthday reminders, you’ll have to make more of an effort to stay connected through other means.
  • Loss of community. Beyond sharing cute memes and cat videos, professionals and small business owners find each other and help each other on Facebook. I personally belong to a few advisor groups where we advise each other on practice management and financial planning topics.

Then again, life did exist before Facebook, and deleting your account could have its advantages.

Pros of deleting

  • Those people who really want to keep in touch may find other ways to do so. Deleting Facebook doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to all your friends, though your circle may grow smaller without it.
  • According to an experiment, people who gave up Facebook for a week ended up happier, less lonely, and less depressed. We don’t have to constantly compare ourselves to others.
  • You might waste less time browsing and become more productive.
  • It’ll give you the temporary satisfaction and illusion of controlling your data, however temporary and illusory that may be.

I WANT TO DELETE FACEBOOK, BUT HOW?

Keyboard with panic and delete button

If you’ve made up your mind, but aren’t sure how to go about it, follow these steps. It’s more than deleting just your Facebook account.

  • Delete all Facebook apps from devices (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger)
  • Deauthorize all apps and websites from your Facebook account
  • Go into Ads and stop all tracking there
  • Get rid of Facebook’s ability to track you
    • Follow the prompts on the Digital Advertising Alliance’s opt-out page
    • Delete cookies in browsers for every device
  • Never use Facebook again

BUT WAIT! IS THERE A HAPPY MIDDLE GROUND?

You can minimize its effect by doing the following:

  • Don’t use Facebook to sign on to other apps and websites.
  • Only become friends with people you know.
  • Don’t use the location tagger.
  • Be careful of what you like and post.

 

Articles, talk shows, podcasts, and blogs like this one will abound telling you why you should or shouldn’t delete Facebook. Think about your reasons. Is it just to make a statement to big tech companies, keeping in mind that we live in a surveillance state? Are you okay with that? Only you can make this decision, but hopefully your decision will now be an informed one.

David Yu, CFP®
dyu@pacunited.com

David Yu is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner with over 10 years of industry experience helping people make smart, lasting financial decisions. He believes in developing strong, lasting relationships based on mutual trust and honesty. He also provides helpful resources via his blog, THE INQUISITIVE MIND. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, tennis, and USC football.