Why I'm Ready to Drop Facebook

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) has finally gone too far. The company announced Graph Search, a new way to search people by interest, location, and a variety of other features even more easily than you could before.

The test search was enough to send me running for the hills. People who live in my city include people I know, some people with mutual friends, distant strangers, and even my doorman. Do I really want strange people searching my interests, hobbies, city, school, or whatever else is on Facebook? Not me.

Privacy please
Facebook has come under a lot of heat for its privacy policies in the past, most recently for updating a policy that says they can do whatever they like with your photos on Instagram. There will always be a tightrope between privacy and using your information to target ads and other goodies, but Graph Search is just too creepy for me.

I think it will also become too much for the heavy users I see dominating my Facebook feed -- families. People love posting pictures of babies and vacations on Facebook, but who wants to expose a newborn to unknown privacy risks?

This has been building for some time. As Facebook added users and features and became more in-your-face with ads, it became apparent that the fad was slowly passing me by. I was an early adopter of Facebook, someone who thought it was super cool when you had to have a .edu email address just to get into the club. But now Facebook is now hitting the challenges that every social network eventually faces.

The death of the social network
There has been the common path for every social network fad since the Internet began. College kids and teens get a hold of it and make it a phenomenon, parents slowly join, international growth ensues, and finally the early adopters ditch the network in an effort to get away from their parents.

Remember that MySpace was once the best asset in News Corp.'s media stable until it became merely a portal for bands to share their music with the world. Friendster was all the rage for a time, boasting 115 million registered users, but it also died. Google's platform, Google+, was even almost relevant for a minute.

One of the main problems is the need to turn a social network into a money machine. Google has happened upon a gold mine in search, and Facebook looks at the data it holds about people's lives as the next gold mine. The problem is, once you start exploiting that data, people flee because they feel like they're being taken advantage of. In other words -- they're creeped out.

What will survive?
Not all sites that gather social data are going to face the same challenges as Facebook. LinkedIn provides a service that people are willing to pay for, essentially acting as a Facebook for business. But there's something different about voluntarily sharing my resume with the world in the hopes of finding a jobs as opposed to sharing pictures that may show up in unknown locations on Facebook.

Yelp has also created a business where people voluntarily offer up opinions that are meant to be shared with a broad audience. Expanding and growing that network only helps make Yelp more relevant.

Too much Facebook
For me, there's just too much Facebook to handle, and I'm seriously considering dropping the site entirely. As an investor, I think the company's need to generate revenue to justify its $65 billion valuation is forcing the Facebook into new features that will only drive users away. Graph Search is just the latest example.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 16, 2013, at 9:55 PM, lakawak wrote:

    Instead of dropping an intelligent ADULT and set the very simple privacy settings on your account so you can't be searched that way.

    But I guess taking responsibility for your own life is too tough,

  • Report this Comment On January 16, 2013, at 10:47 PM, KevinniveK wrote:

    God someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this year,,,,CRANKY

  • Report this Comment On January 17, 2013, at 2:23 AM, liux0229 wrote:

    Who told you a stranger can search your personal information that you have not shared? Graph search doesn't expose anything to anybody that was not already exposed before, just make it easier to find. If you have something about you that you don't want share to a stranger, don't share it to a stranger. If you have strangers that are your friends, unfriend them.

    Before you write an article, do some research and make sure you know what you are talking about.

  • Report this Comment On January 17, 2013, at 10:49 AM, Matthewuwf wrote:

    I think the author is also trying to point out that Facebook has not always acted ethically with the information they have gathered and seem to try and "sneak in" personal information changes.

  • Report this Comment On January 17, 2013, at 11:36 AM, TMFFlushDraw wrote:


    Exactly. The privacy changes are always confusing and why should it be on me to make sure I go in and change settings every few months to comply with a new privacy policy?

    It's even more concerning (in my opinion) for the 8, 9, 10 year old kids who use Facebook like crazy, sharing everything they do with the world. I know, parents should be responsible enough to keep their settings private but the reality is that they aren't.

    It's all just a little too much openness for this Fool.

    Fool on,

    Travis Hoium

  • Report this Comment On January 17, 2013, at 12:17 PM, QuickCarrera wrote:

    Excellent points, Travis. I agree! If I didn't need a page for business purposes I would drop it.

  • Report this Comment On January 17, 2013, at 1:08 PM, OceanJackson wrote:

    Privacy is dead. Get over it. Invest in Anti-Privacy. You are now officially selfish if you don't share things about yourself with the world. In fact if you're not on LinkedIn, or not on Facebook so strangers can glean information on you, you're not going to get the job. They'll go with the candidate who they can get info on without having to talk to them.

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