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What is 'Quit Facebook Day'?

Wary of the site's ethics, grassroots campaigners are asking Facebook users to abandon their accounts on May 31. Should Mark Zuckerberg be scared?

With social media giant Facebook confronting a growing backlash over its privacy policies ("How do I delete my Facebook account?" recently edged into Google's top search terms), a pair of tech-savvy protestors are promoting May 31 as "Quit Facebook Day." Will the campaign catch on? A quick guide to the controversy:

What's provoked the protest?
The perception that Facebook takes liberties with personal data. The company's privacy policy automatically gives advertisers broad access to users' information; to opt out completely, some say, a user must change as many as 50 separate settings. "I have lost trust in Facebook," says Daily Finance's Sam Gustin, who recently deleted his account. "Facebook's leadership needs to do some real soul-searching," or they risk destroying the company.

What is "Quit Facebook Day"?
Toronto-based systems designer Matthew Milan and "technologist" Joseph Dee decided to start a grassroots campaign, declaring May 31 official "Quit Facebook Day." On their website, the duo says they "just can't see Facebook's current direction being aligned with any positive future for the web," and ask visitors to "commit to quit." As of this writing, about 3,000 people have vowed to do so.

Will "Quit Facebook Day" make a difference?
Probably not, given that Facebook has more than 400 million users worldwide. "A few high-profile tech bloggers may have quit the site," says Fortune, but reports of a backlash are highly exaggerated. Since new features were launched on April 21, "Facebook has had a net gain of 10 million active users" and, according to a Facebook spokesperson, the rate of "deactivations" has not changed.

Are there any new privacy-friendly alternatives to Facebook?
While a group of NYU students has raised some money and begun development on "an open-source personal web service that will put individuals in control of their data," commentators don't give it much of a chance against Mark Zuckerberg's behemoth.

What's the best way to protect my private information?
By keeping it off the internet. "It's dangerous to believe that sites like Facebook are responsible for our privacy," says Tracy Coenen in Daily Finance. They exist to make money, not to safeguard your personal details. So "the only way to keep things truly private is by not posting them anywhere on the Internet."

Sources: Read Write Web, Fortune, Daily Finance, Slate, Mashable

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