I have been advocating my circles to switch to Signal since December 2020. It first started as an experiment between me and my wife. When it turned out that feature-wise the platform is mature enough and can easily replace WhatsApp, I convinced a few of my friends and family members to start using it over other apps.
I intended this to be slower pocess—privacy matters, but I wasn't motivated enough to start a holy crusade advocating for it. Then, a few weeksWhen I started writing this post, it was just a few days after WhatsApp announced it policy changes. This word was originally "days", but I had to change it due to my laziness. ago, I snapped and decided to just delete everything Facebook related.
If you are out of the loop, this is a nice summary of what happened:
But the truth is, this has been building up inside me for quite some time already.
My perception of that social network is that is a western world equivalent of WeChat: trying to combine all services under single umbrella for convenience of use for users, while harvesting all the possible data for ad-serving purposes. The line in sand has been crossed when Facebook started forcing users of other services it acquired to allow data sharing between services, link accounts or use each other's infrastructure.
So after I learnt about what was going on with WhatsApp, I have self-imposed a deadline of 30 days to depart from any Facebook-powered platforms and not to use them in the future. Which at this moment are these:
Deactivating the Instagram was the easiest, I haven't been using it regularly over the past year. I have even used a feature of my phone to limit how much time I was able to spend using Instagram to 10 minutes per day, and I have not even come close to it during the past few months.
WhatsApp could have proven tricky, but luckily almost all the contacts I had there have since switched to Signal. One worry somewhere in the back of my head is that I might be required to use that service while travelling.
I won't do anything with the Oculus account at the moment, since I have a few games I've purchased using it. Though Facebook forces new Oculus users to link their accounts with Facebook accounts, and old users (including me) have until 2023 before they can't play anymore without linking first. That's a decision for the next year, I reckon.
Messenger is a hard to swallow pill. There are a lot of people in there that I can reach only via Messenger, as I don't know their phone number, email or whether they use any other IM platform. On the other hand, with a vast majority of these I have only barely talked, if at all. They were idly displayed on the contacts list because we are friends on Facebook. I've chatted with others, whom I contacted on a more frequent basis, that I'm moving on and I hope I will be able to stay in touch.
I've just realised that I hadn't used email as a medium for a non-business conversation for quite a while. Maybe it's time to go back for a bit? Have humans felt similarly about letters when phone calls became more popular?
And last, but definitely not least, is Facebook. Only occasionally posting something on my profile and farming virtual vanity points (ie. likes and reactions), there are two features I don't have a clear equivalent for at the moment.
The first one is the Marketplace. It's easy to use, and my subjective perception tells me it has more items and people than the competitor I'm using, Gumtree. It won't be the end of the world, but will definitely limit chances for me to interact with others when I have a specific reason—obtaining something I lack, or getting rid of something in exchange for monetary value.
The second one is all kind of local groups, letting humans living in a specific area and with particular interest to interact with each other. I will probably not cry after losing access to some of them, due to high amount of toxicity and bad human behaviour in them (looking at ya, Poles in Sydney). On the other hand, it's generally good to hear about new food outlets in the neighbourhood or see warnings about suspicious behaviour in the local community, or read advice from fellow dog parents. I don't know if there is a viable alternative which is used by as many people.
Fortunately, my wife—who is walking besides me in the journey of defacebookisation—will stop short of deleting the Facebook account, due to above points. So I will still have limited access through her, if necessary. Hopefully I will be satisfied with alternatives.
So what now?
We shall see. I have deactivated all of those services already and will be deleting them in a few weeks. So far, I haven't had a need to use any of them.
If you need to contact me and I didn't leave you my contact details (eg. we were both on Messenger but we haven't chatted in a while), let's do it the old-fashioned way: go to the contact page and send me an email. I will be sure to reply!