There are a lot of reasons that might persuade someone to quit using Facebook. There are privacy concerns, data leaks, and incendiary content, not to mention the monetization of your personal data. Any one of those reasons should be enough, but most people aren't persuaded to quit Facebook. Most people just keep using it--almost three billion of them every month, in fact.
I've come pretty close on several occasions. I even deleted it from my iPhone over the holidays. At this point, I really only use it to follow conversations about the content I write. The trend line for me has been moving in the direction of getting rid of all things Facebook for a while now. Except for Instagram--I do still like Instagram. In fact, if you ever see me post something on Facebook, it's probably a photo I shared on Instagram.
There is one thing, however, that may actually get me to quit Facebook this year. In fact, Instagram is a pretty good example of exactly what is wrong with Facebook, and why it might be time for me to delete it once and for all. I'll get to that part in just a moment.
First, though, I should say something about the privacy problem, because that's absolutely a real thing. Facebook became one of the most powerful advertising platforms on earth because--better than any other company--it has figured out how to almost effortlessly monetize your personal information. And, it's done it in a way most people never think about.
The real problem, however, is that Facebook's primary goal is to seduce you into spending more time on Facebook through a variety of different features and notifications. Then, it makes it harder and harder to find the setting to opt-out of those features, even if you have no desire to use them.
That, by the way, is my main complaint with Facebook. The company isn't trying to build features that make it better or more convenient for you to use. Instead, it's designing its product solely to make it better and more profitable for Facebook, even when that results in a worse user experience.
That's the same thing that's wrong with Instagram. Facebook, which owns Instagram, recently redesigned the app to make it harder to do the thing you opened for (to share photos), and instead wants you to tap on its Shopping or Reels features. It literally placed those icons in place of where you used to tap to post a photo or view your "likes" and notifications.
Of course, it's even worse on Facebook's app. Ever since Facebook redesigned the app and browser interface, the sole purpose hasn't been to show you more of what you want to see. It's simply to get you to spend more time engaging with content on Facebook.
One of the most offensive ways it does this (in my opinion) is to make you believe there are important things that require your attention behind an increasing number of little red notifications for things like Groups, or Pages, or Videos. I never watch videos on Facebook, so why are there "9+" notifications for that feature?
Or how about the Pages icon, which shows hundreds of unread notifications for different Pages I've managed over the years. None of them are for new followers or messages--they're for tips from Facebook on how to sell gift cards or run ads. Seriously, Facebook is sending me notifications, not about messages from potential customers, but to get me to buy ads.
There's also the fact that every time I open the Facebook app or view it in a web browser, the first post is always from a random group that I'm a part of. Except I don't even know most of the people in the groups I'm a part of. I joined only because I'm mildly interested in what's happening with our children's soccer club, or to know about events happening in our small town.
If I want to see something from the group, I'd visit the group. I don't want a post from someone I don't know showing at the top of my feed just because I joined a group for the booster club for my daughter's gymnastics club.
Of course, Facebook does. Facebook's strategy--as the company has openly admitted--is all about groups. That's why there's a little icon right there in the top navigation, and why it almost always has a little red notification icon.
Facebook knows you'll click or tap on it, and end up spending more time on Facebook, and that means more chances to do one of two things: collect data about your usage or show you ads.
Have you ever tried turning off those notifications? Instead of making it simple, Facebook makes you go into the settings of each, and decide which ones can send you notifications and where. It's ridiculously time consuming and complicated.
I am against red dots. Actually, I am utterly and violently allergic to red dots. They make my throat tighten and I start to feel anxious. They destroy my productivity and most of the time just make me angry.
This isn't, by the way, meant to be only a personal airing of grievance against Facebook. There is a point, which is that every app (especially Facebook) wants you to think there are important things happening inside so you'll open it and spend more time tapping away at the red dots.
Obviously, I have strong feelings about this, but that's mostly because, in a variety of ways, almost every business does something similar. It might look different than Facebook, but if you're forcing your customers to engage in ways that make it harder or more frustrating to do business with you--even if you think it's better for the product--you're doing it wrong.