Quitting Facebook because of the Facebook Friends you chose makes no sense

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Announcing that you’ve quit Facebook is almost like a badge of honor for folks these days. Many try to recruit others to follow them.

I get people leaving Facebook out of “philosophical” concerns, though I think they’ll miss out on a lot by doing so. I don’t understand people quitting Facebook because they found their Facebook News Feed so awful.

Afterall, your News Feed is created by your Facebook friends and your engagement with those friends. You choose your friends on Facebook, you share what you want to share and you comment and like at your own pleasure.

It’s your friends and your engagement – sharing, likes and comments that drive Facebook algorithms – the algorithms that dictate what you see in your News Feed. 

My friend (not on Facebook as he quit) and the founder of Rocket Matter, Larry Port, asked people to join him in quitting Facebook. He quit, in part, because of his News Feed.

I found the toxic politics and the pointless arguments very distressing. I’m ashamed to admit that I was part of the problem: I damaged a few relationships (that I know of at least) because of overheated political discussions that did nothing to help anyone.

Also, my news feed was no fun anymore.  It only featured the same twenty or so people even though I had hundreds of friends.  Maybe I muted too many people, or maybe Facebook’s algorithms were tuned to show me too many ads.

Ronald Langeveld, a freelance web developer, shared over the weekend how to quit Facebook and get a download of all your friends and photos before your account is deleted. He was sick of his News Feed.

People still share things way too much and every time you go on Facebook there’s like a whole plague of negativity that’s trying to give me cancer. Just no. It’s not cool. It really is no longer the cool thing it was back in 2008.

Complaining about what your Facebook friends are saying, the friends you chose, doesn’t make a lot of sense. Nor does complaining about the discussion, what you see and what you hear, when you have chosen all of this.

It’s like complaining about the conversation and what you see in a bar you keep going into that’s filled with the friends you chose to be there talking about things you asked them to talk about. Rather than be more selective about the friends you choose, where you go and what you say, you complain about the bar.

I’ve worked to make sure that my Facebook experience is a valuable one. I followed my friend, Robert Scoble’s advice to befriend on Facebook the people who will add value to my life. Facebook friends, whether I know them in person or not.

So when I opened my News Feed just now I saw posts from:

  • Personal friend
  • Law firm CMO
  • Law firm management consultant 
  • Seattle lawyer
  • One of the leading advertising and First Amendment lawyers in the country
  • Iranian-Canadian blogger who was imprisoned in Tehran for six years
  • Leading class action and mass torts appellate lawyer
  • Seattle software engineer who has built a number of successful companies
  • New York Times reporter
  • Local hometown newspaper in Wisconsin
  • My cousin
  • Robert Scoble, a tech evangelist and author
  • A leading technologist who gave rise to blogging by his invention of RSS
  • VP of research for a major publisher 
  • Speech writer of a former US President, now at the Wall Street Journal
  • Associated Press with piece on Chinese internment camps
  • Managing partner of major law firm
  • CEO of a company delivering virtual and augmented reality solutions
  • Former managing editor of Wall Street Journal, now heading content for new digital site
  • Co-founder of Findlaw
  • Author and Associate Director of Yale University
  • International correspondent with the New York Times

I don’t share this list to impress you – and it’s a total mix of personal items, news and other commentary. I share the list to impress upon you that these are not the type of folks that bring a “plague of negativity” or “toxic politics and pointless arguments.”

These folks bring value to my life, personally and professionally.

I work to improve my News Feed, just like you would work to bring the type of entertainment, news and information to your life by choosing what you considered appropriate magazines, newspapers, television news and shows and local events.

I look at the “People You May Know” feature opening up the pages of people with whom I have thirty or more mutual Facebook friends. For every twenty or thirty of them, I find someone interesting who is sharing items I would find of value. I send them a friend request and they accept.

Though I am interested in politics, I don’t connect with people who regularly share and discuss political news and views. Doing so would cause Facebook to drive heated political discussion into my News Feed. I also don’t like or comment on political news my friends share on Facebook. Again the algorithms would bring it on.

Right or wrong, because of what the algorithms will bring, I’m conscious of the the things I like and the people whose posts I like. I understand the impact of engagement with certain people and talking about certain things. 

There was no rule book I followed. Insight I read from people smarter than I and common sense guided me.

As a result I have a virtual newspaper of things I find of value accompanied by personal items I enjoy learning of from people I already cared for or have come to care for. The news I receive is from people I trust. 

And I don’t see any ads that I know of – I use my iPhone or iPad for Facebook.

Quit Facebook for philosophical reasons, if you’d like, at your own loss. But don’t tell folks that Facebook is a waste because of your News Feed. That’s your own fault.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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