Well, Mark Zuckerberg, this time you’ve finally done it. After it was revealed last week that Facebook had pimped out the personal data of more than 50 million people to a piratical firm of political consultants, many users reacted with fury. (See Best Columns: Business.) The phrase #DeleteFacebook trended on Twitter, and prominent tech figures such as Tesla founder Elon Musk and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton—who sold his messaging service to Facebook for $16 billion in 2014—publicly quit the platform. There are many reasons to join the exodus. For years the company has taken an anything-goes approach to privacy: Back in 2010, the firm admitted that it had revealed users’ names to some advertisers. Facebook helps spread discord and disinformation because its algorithm is designed to maximize engagement, and so promotes sensationalist, and often fake, news stories. And research shows that when people spend time comparing their real lives to the idealized versions broadcast by others on the site—their photos of perfect vacations and always-smiling children—it leads to depression.
Yet despite all that, I’m still one of Facebook’s 2.1 billion users. For an expat Brit like me, the site remains the simplest way to keep in contact with loved ones on the other side of the Atlantic. With a click of a button, I can share a photo of my own always-smiling kids with faraway aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends, and also find out what’s happening in their lives. If I deleted Facebook, would I really dedicate time and energy to sending regular emails or—gasp!—physical letters to all those people? Probably not. And if I quit, what would happen to all the information I’ve willingly shared on the site over the past decade? Deleting Facebook would be like tossing my family photo albums and diaries in the trash. So I’ll keep using your site for now, Mr. Zuckerberg. Just don’t expect me to “like” it.
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