I Could Live Without Facebook. Could You?

delete facebookFacebook is in hot water right now. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which uncovered that the data of as many as 90 million people was shared without their permission, calls for changes in management have been common as well as a #deleteFacebook campaign that has been supported by well known technologists like Steve Wozniak and the founder of Whatsapp.

Those of us in the tech world understand that any company that makes its money off advertising is monetizing user data. On Facebook you are the product. They essentially make money from our digital footprint.

Facebook’s COO, Sharyl Sandberg, said recently we should pay a monthly subscription if we wanted to opt out of getting tracked by Facebook.; that would stop them from mining and sharing our data to advertisers; I don’t think that’s going to happen simply because the economics matter too much at this point. For context, right now Facebook has over 2 billion people on the network, which accounts for $40 billion in revenue. They would need 400 millions users to pay at least $10 usd per month to make up for all the revenue they make from advertising. This is very optimistic and unrealistic. For comparison, Netflix, one of the most successful subscription services has 100 millions paid users; I’m doubtful Facebook could do any better.

I like Facebook, but I could live without it. The utility I get from it is very different from most people. The whole privacy argument has little weight for me to delete facebook; for me what matters is utility, and I just don’t get a lot from it.

I’ve always said that I’d rather pay for Twitter than for Facebook. Why? Because Facebook is where your friends are, Twitter is where the friends you want to have are. I get more utility from Twitter than Facebook because there’s more knowledge sharing and interesting dialogue than simply sharing day to day trivial things that nobody should care about. I have a Facebook account, but I don’t sign in to mindlessly scroll through my newsfeed and haven’t done so in 10 years; I just use Messenger for communication.

Sure, it’s great to connect with friends from different phases of ones life. But how long does that high last? For some people, getting likes and comments on photos from their latest trip gives them a high; that’s the utlity they get from it.