Making Facebook Usable (Without Using Facebook)
I signed up for Facebook in 2006, while I was still in high school. I “deleted” my account for the first time in 2008. Since then I've seen it evolve from chronological feed to platform for FarmVille, et al. to sprawling ad-spewing machine hoping to infect every device you live on.
Today I care enough about privacy to take a principled stance on it, and after dropping maintenance for the Write.as page I got rid of the last vestige of Facebook on my phone — the Pages app. Otherwise my profile sits there, happily populated with “Likes” I don't actually like and a Timeline featuring a life of adventure, like graduating college 5 decades before I was born, and living in Antarctica for a short period of time. I don't know if obfuscation like this completely works, but I like to think it helps.
Still, I occasionally hear about events and certain pages that are only available on Facebook. But with their cookies blocked on all my computers, I get this wonderful experience:
Like any other service that starves without trackable human attention, Facebook is happy to degrade their product to this point if it means annoying non-users enough to make them sign up. But the web is beautiful because users have control.
So I took back some control. I made a small browser extension that hides all of the annoying sign-up and log-in prompts, so you can safely click that Facebook link without being assaulted upon your arrival. What you get is something like this:
Even if you haven't deleted Facebook, my hope is that this will make it a bit easier to log out, uninstall, and step back from the platform for a bit.