On the Outside: Facebook

In this, the first part of a series about being “on the outside” of a subject, I tackle the problems I’ve faced since leaving Facebook.

You’d imagine that having got rid of Facebook I’d not have any issues with the site. It’s not like I’m missing anything directly; none of my closest friends bar maybe two used it “correctly” and the days of friends posting photos on it are long gone now. There have been a few times where I’ve maybe missed a quick announcement about something, or a wee jokey post by a friend, or my parents will mention a family thing on Facebook that I’ve missed out on, but normally the most important stuff comes directly to me via a message on Whatsapp or at the latest from Connie, who is reluctant to leave Facebook because her family use it regularly.

Missing on social things on Facebook doesn’t worry me. The fear of missing out (FOMO) is actually quite weak with me now, having got rid of Facebook. I never really used it in the same way I used Twitter (because, unlike Twitter, Facebook ruined how I consumed news from friends) and even then not many of my friends actually use Twitter as much as I do. Internet socialising aside, Twitter is less useful now too, thanks to adverts, some odd design changes, and the usual boredom that comes with the plateauing of what people post on there.

But there have been a few times where not having Facebook (specifically, not having a Facebook log-in) has been a pain, and these have been almost all to do with businesses. Since the rise of Facebook’s “check-in” feature little profiles have been made for a lot of local businesses, especially in Cumbria. These have then been “claimed” by the owners of the business and have become the basis for the websites that these businesses have, with reviews, and information about menus and opening times and stuff there. It is an easy way to have a website I guess, much easier than trying to build a Wordpress page with the same information.

The problem is that there are a few settings buried way down in the privacy pages that make it quite hard for me, an outsider, to be able to see that information. On mobile, the Facebook webapp, which used to be my favoured way of accessing the site, is reduced to a basic page with very little functionality. Almost zero, in some cases. On the desktop the problem is even worse, forcing everything behind a large opaque filter and a box saying “Please log in”. There is no option to remove that box – you either log in or you don’t see the content.

This also happens when looking at certain band’s pages, certain other social pages, or other things on Facebook that I’d like to read, like a post from an person on Twitter that uses that Tweetdeck feature of posting Facebook updates to Twitter (truncated to the 140 limit with a link to the full status). Sometimes this works, but other times it’s useless.

Another big problem is interactions with companies through social media – one such issue was when they insisted I log in using Facebook, but I don’t have a Facebook account. This killed my use of the rather fun app Timehop, which requires a Facebook log in - though this only stopped working when I moved phones; interestingly, even when my Facebook account was dead it still let me access my Twitter and Instagram account, but once I did a clean install it required me to log in using Facebook to even start using the application, despite having no memories on Facebook.

This are all a bit inconsequential I guess. Simply silly little problems overcome by either getting Facebook back or just ignoring them. I’ve chosen to ignore them. Nothing has yet came up that has been a show stopper , but it is quite infuriating that a company has become so pervasive in our culture that if I stop using it – or, heaven forbid, they were to go under – large reams of stuff would go missing.