Why I Mothballed My Facebook Profile

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If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen that I recently mothballed my personal Facebook profile. Specifically, I set my profile to hidden, de-friended all but family and a few close friends, and put up a note that I would no longer be posting to the site any more. To be clear I didn’t deactivate my account; I’m still responsible for some of our diocese’s social media activities and I’m still maintaining my Jonathan F. Sullivan page, so I need access to Facebook. I’m simply no longer using it as a personal social networking outlet.

This may seem an odd move for someone who has widely encouraged the use of Facebook and other social media platforms for catechists and Catholic educators, and the irony is not lost on me. A few people have asked for the specific motivation for this action. The truth is that there’s no single reason, but a variety of factors went into this decision:

  1. Facebook’s  algorithm  stopped working for me. Over the years Facebook has tweaked and changed the way it decides what to show people on the front page. In recent months, for whatever reason, I was seeing fewer things of interest from people I wanted to see stuff from. Admittedly my friends may have been posting less interesting items, but I think the changes to the algorithm are the more likely culprit.
  2. I don’t care about political arguments. This was especially true as we approached last November’s elections, but the number of stupid, poorly informed, and  inflammatory  political posts really soured me on the Facebook experience. I have friends on both sides of the political divide and a lot of them were posting things that are unworthy of my time and attention.
  3. Facebook is the Genesis planet of social media. In  Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Genesis planet (created by a device which takes dead planets and terraforms them into lush, living worlds) proved to be beautiful but extremely unstable, with shifting landscapes and rapidly shifting weather patterns making it all but uninhabitable. It’s an apt metaphor for Facebook’s constantly shifting privacy policies, updates, and backend changes. I’ve grown tired of relearning how to do things on the site every six months.

I want to reiterate that I am still using Facebook for public activities; it is only as a personal social networking site that I’ve abandoned it. I remain convinced that every parish should have a Facebook page to reach out to parishioners. I’m just not as convinced that Facebook is a great place to connect with friends and family anymore.

9 thoughts on “Why I Mothballed My Facebook Profile

  1. This is a really helpful post. I have not been happy with FB for a long time, and now you are giving me the extra push to do what I’ve been thinking about for awhile. The key for me will be to create a page for myself first and try to drive some traffic there first, before I limit my FB profile.nnI agree with all of what you said in this post.

    1. Thanks, John. Even writing these reasons down was helpful to me as a means of articulating my own discontent with the service. I’ll be curious to see if “it’s just me” or if we’ll see a more wide-spread shift in the public’s use of Facebook.

  2. I’ve always treated FB as if it were 100% public — something like a giant office party. it seems to work okay for that, but I’m a very light user.

    1. Yeah, I still used Facebook as it was originally designed — I kinda liked having a “private” social media space for stuff. In fact, that could probably be #4 up there — FB’s move towards becoming a public platform. It’s not wrong per se, it’s just not what I signed up to use FB for.

  3. So then my question would be how to use social media in ministry settings? It seems like it’s been the elephant in the room, and I know that different dioceses have very similar but different rules on the matter. Is twitter then the best social network to use because it’s one way? I’m personally a fan of blogging for ministry but that might be a matter of me liking to teach the way that I learn or communicate the way I like to be communicated with.

    1. Well, Twitter isn’t one-way, although it’s easier to ignore replies on Twitter. I still think parishes and dioceses need to be on FB — it’s the 400-lb gorilla of social media. You can’t not be there.nnI think the important thing to remember is that different social media tools have different purposes. FB pages are one way to get messages across; blogs are good for conversation around a specific topic; etc.nnFor what it’s worth our diocese came out with a social media policy last year. Our policy and training materials, including a link to a video of one of the online training sessions, are at http://www.dio.org/it/resources.

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