Saturday, May 15, 2010

6 kick-ass tips to wean yourself off Facebook

Facebook is the most talked about site in recent days. Previously I've had no qualms about anything whatsoever with regards to privacy. But all that changed when I realized with every upgrade/update or whatever Zuckerberg calls it, *my* settings are overridden with what FB thinks is right for me. Unacceptable!

If like me you have contemplated wiping out your account, don't. The following 6 kick-ass tips should help you stick your foot in Zuckerberg's mouth while still benefiting from the networking capabilities of the service.

1.Wipe out all your personal data- Yes you heard me right. Wipe out all your personal data-marriage, date of birth, employer/school, children- anything that will be of value to any advertiser, wipe it out. Or better still, lie to Facebook. Tell Zuckerberg you are a girl when in fact you are a man. Tell him you schooled in France when you have not set foot outside your country before. Do so and you begin to obfuscate advertisers who will be showing you completely irrelevant ads.

2.Post your photos to Picasa- Instead of uploading your photos to Facebook, rather upload them to Picasa web albums. You can create a public album and dump your photos there if you want the world to see. Or restrict access to them in a private album. Google will never reset *your* privacy settings. If the free 1GB Google offers is not enough, you can always buy more space at the price of a  gum. 

3.Stay away from stupid apps- I am amazed at how easily people give access to their accounts to any application at all. I wonder if they know that those apps get unfettered access to their stuff and info on Facebook as well as spam their friends. I for one do not play any of those games or use any other application to access my account other than three- Ping.Fm, Hootsuite and Gwibber. And yes I *block* all those "kiss my rear for two points" apps that get thrown in my newsfeed.

4.If you cannot stop posting things of a personal nature to Facebook, then setup a blog- Seriously, that is what a blog is meant for. Your web diary of sorts. Do not post things you do not want the world to see on Facebook. There is absolutely no privacy on that network. If you have to post, set up a blog. Blogger and Wordpress are great places to start, the former being my favorite for its legendary simplicity. 

With Blogger, you can restrict access to your blog to those who you hand pick as well as make it public. That setting will also never get overridden. And if you have no qualms about advertisers seeing your personal stuff, why not make some money of them. You can always add Adsense to your posts on Blogger. I for one prefer trusting my data with a company like Google than with one that is run by an amateur who will not hesitate to put them up for sale on Craigslist or Ebay.

5.Post to both Twitter and Facebook- Based on the assumption that you have not set your tweets as protected, post to both Twitter and Facebook simultaneously. This forces you to post things that you really would not worry about anybody seeing. Then too the 140 character limit on Twitter should help you choose your words carefully so as to say what you ought to say in few words. Less words for Facebook ad bots to crawl. Ping.fm is a great tool to help you post to both networks at the same time.

6.Be careful which sites you access with your Facebook account- Aiming to become the passport to the internet, most sites and services now give you the option of logging into their services with your Facebook account. Be careful and choose to do so wisely. I personally now prefer creating a new account on any service than log in with my Facebook account.

There are many more ways to reduce your dependence on this mammoth monster of a social network. I will update this post as and when I think of any. In the mean time, you can also add your tips for getting people decentralize their lives off of Facebook in the comments.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 2 comments

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