Bursting the filter bubble : Step one, leaving Facebook

Feeling like a fly caught in a web of specially tailored content? Releasing yourself from the mighty strong grasp of a filtered internet experience is a long process that can be quite tedious. I wonder why I’m bothering at all sometimes…these “bursting the filter bubble” posts are my notes on the experience and to remind me why it matters.

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Spring 2017; I went online to check some travel plans for the following week and before I knew it I’d spent over half an hour browsing Facebook- ranging from a range of accquaintances’ holiday snaps to a few mildly distressing news stories things personalised especially for me. I felt vaguely deflated. It seemed to be a web browsing pattern I was increasingly drawn into like a fluttering little moth.

I wondered 1) how much time I had wasted in snippets, 2) how much calm, scenery and thoughtfulness I’d missed out on by checking my phone during idle moments 3) whether this ultimately pointless activity could contribute to feeling anxious or pessimistic or self fixated.

I decided to finally leave Facebook. Would it help? I had no idea, but I thought at least it was worth a go to try and break the habit.

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But why did it seem so difficult? Firstly, it actually was moderately difficult to see how you got through the menu to the “leave Facebook” section. I tried for a while via menu and eventually got faster and clearer information by searching outside Facebook for the answer… not great.

Secondly, How could I take some of my photos other data and connections off the platform before deleting my profile?This removal of data thing looked a bit complicated… I spent some more time reading

“…there’s private data that belongs to you, such as your email and photos. Second, there is data that belongs to you but that you have published on, say, Twitter or Facebook or a bulletin board. Third, there is commercial data, of the sort that you create when buying things online. Fourth, there is metadata that you don’t know about, which tracks your browsing habits, location, and so on.”

I realised I’d spent close to an hour trying to work out how best to completely leave Facebook.

Come on, just delete it I muttered to myself.

Finally, with my mousepointer hovering over the final button, suddenly all those friends, photos, connections suddenly seemed hard to “just delete”.

Funnily enough, Facebook agreed, it even flashed up a message to tell me how hard it would be to leave, they would “miss me”. On screen, there were the faces staring at me of some people Facebook algorithm must have worked out were my actual friends and family.

Pausing to acknowledge that they really know how to design for user retention, I rationalised….I can’t spend more time on this, I want to get rid of or save this data properly, I also want to stop wasting time on Facebook and on leaving Facebook.

So…cursing…I decided I’d spent enough time dithering and decided to deactivate Facebook instead of deleting it, and I still haven’t actually left. I’m technically still in Facebook limbo at time of writing.

I’m sure this is exactly what Facebook would prefer people like me do. Hoping the network would draw me to reactivate at some point in the future.

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Let’s see if it happens. For now, it’s been a fair few months, and I haven’t missed it one bit. In fact, I even started writing the odd blog again in those spare moments…

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