Week 2: Facebook
After Facebook’s hell-year of scandal, and its unabating erosion of our privacy—a topic I’ve been covering for over 10 years—I never thought I’d miss the social network. But here I am, staring at my screen, feeling strangely alone.
In the second stage of my epic quest to thwart the world’s most powerful tech giants from getting my data, my money, and my attention, I’m taking on Big Blue. No Facebook. No Instagram. No WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Onavo, nor Oculus Rift. For one week, I’m cutting myself off from everything Facebook-related—not simply deleting apps from my phone, but using a custom tool that completely stops all my devices from communicating with Mark Zuckerberg’s enormous, needy baby.
Originally, I just planned to block myself from using Facebook the same way I’d blocked myself from using Amazon, by routing all my internet traffic through a virtual private network (VPN) controlled by the technologist Dhruv Mehrotra, who is prohibiting my devices from communicating with the 122,880 IP addresses controlled by Facebook. But I decide this experiment is an opportunity to do something additional, something more drastic.
Facebook’s misdeeds with our data have been news cycle fodder for at least a decade, but the past year has been particularly bad. The only explanation for why most of us are still members is Stockholm Syndrome. Like many people, I feel invested in Facebook: I’ve been building my profile since 2007. I have party and vacation photos galore there and over 1,000 connections, including dear friends, acquaintances, colleagues, loved ones, and quite a few randos whom I added for reasons that I no longer remember. I’ve written that people who aren’t on Facebook “may not actually exist” and are “suspicious.” I use Facebook to log in to other services that I use a ton such as Airbnb, Words with Friends, and Spotify.
I couldn’t quit Facebook, could I? And if I did, would I miss it? Would the world I’ve built there miss me?