Facebook, you are dead to me. Or, rather, I am dead to you.

I've been assembling friends and groups over a few years; I wasn't an early user, but had a few hundred people in my circle. And then I hit the kill switch: the profile option to delete your profile and all of the information related to it permanently. (Facebook gives you a 14-day cooling-off period during which you can still have your data reinstated.)

I had grown increasingly dissatisfied with having a company own information about my most intimate relationships, the conversations I had with friends, and my photographs. Facebook's continual privacy missteps added to my dissatisfaction.

The December 2009 revisions to Facebook's privacy settings, advertised as offering more ability to restrict access to your profile, actually added more default options to provide marketers and people you don't know with more information about yourself without your knowledge. Did you know that when you activate Facebook applications, you give application developers an enormous amount of permission to manhandle your data?

I followed the recommendations of some online privacy sites, and went through to turn off public and other sharing settings. But Facebook didn't make it easy.

The Google Buzz debacle, which I'll write more about in the future, cemented my decision to efface Facebook. Google launched its social networking offering embedded inside Gmail, and decided that it should seed Gmail users' Buzz networks, without their advance permissiom, by turning each user's most popular email and chat contacts in Gmail into Buzz followers.

Oh, and Google also made it a default option, hidden four links away in a profile setting, that everyone in the world should be able to see who you follow and who follows you.

Once I discovered this, I went through and disabled all public features on all the Google services I use, set my profile to private, and disabled Buzz after blocking all my followers and removing myself from following other people.

(Like Twitter, Buzz is asymmetrical: you choose who to follow, and can be blocked from seeing updates from those people if they choose; likewise, people follow your updates, but you can block those you wish.)

Google admitted to BBC News today that it had erred in launching without more testing. You think? Twenty thousand Google employees, largely engineers and marketers, I'd suspect, tried the service, but Google didn't consult outsiders or privacy experts who would have quickly hit the big red Idiot button to stop them from launching.

Now, Facebook is different. You opt in to all the relationships you have there, and despite permissions issues, as long as you can figure out how where settings are you do have a lot of control.

But I was tired of Facebook as a novelty shortly after I used it to find long-lost friends. I got back in touch with some people, had desultory exchanges with others, and mostly exchanged contemporary information with my current circle of friends and colleagues.

The entertainment value was good enough to make it worthwhile. But as Facebook has grown in popularity, it simply reminds me more and more of high school (or perhaps even junior high). Because you can connect back to decades' worth of friends, many of whom you may not have seen or spoken to in decades (as much as you liked them way back when), the relationships recapitulate themselves.

I enjoyed high school (maybe one of the rare people to do so?), but I graduated. I use Twitter constantly, which, while sometimes inane, is more like an office water cooler for me, a freelancer who shares office spaces with a few other people.

I was a relatively but not very early blogger, and I enjoyed blogging because I controlled the means of production. My blog was my content, my printing press, and anyone could read entries, email me in response, or leave contents. They could write their own blog entries, linking to mine or mine to them.

The informal and vernacular nature of blogs meant that relationships were loose, there was no central connection, and third parties (like Technorati) built trees of links, popularity, and authority to explore relationships between sets of blogs and between readers and blogs.

Facebook is the private park inside a locked gate that you can enter only after registering with a guard and agreeing to a restrictive set of behavior. Blogs and, to some extent, Twitter are far more like the agora, the public space in which ideas contend, and in which people are messy.

I still have some qualms about leaving Facebook behind, because I feel that I'm abandoning some of my friends with whom I only have connections via Facebook. I hope we find each other again out in the wild, wild Web.
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