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Facebook Still Exists


... in which I encounter Facebook for the first time in many years.

This is post no. 54 for Kev Quirk's #100DaysToOffload challenge. The point is to write many things, not to write good ones. Please adjust quality expectations accordingly :)

Many people just actively delete their Facebook accounts. I just... didn't really care. My profile picture is about 5 years old (apparently, I put up a new one every 5 years), I still miss the last 6 years of my employment history, and most of my wall is random "politics" articles from family members.

However... the rest of the world eventually convinced me to update my profile into something that is at least somewhat realistic. So I did. My cover photo used to feature a selfie with one of Google's self-driving cars, from... 2013-ish; now it has been swapped out to this one:

a slightly rearranged version of The Oatmeal's (linked) comic strip about Facebook

(I slightly rearranged it compared to the original, to make it fit neatly.)

Plus, I added some photos (... did you know that the San Francisco airport has Cliff Stoll's Klein bottles featured at an exhibition at Terminal 2?) Of course, there is no way for adding photos to your profile without actually posting them. (They are really trying to get you to interact with stuff.)

(I can't quite resist linking to the Actual Movie though, featuring him, the KGB and hackers, which used to be one of my favorites while growing up, but also a must see if you're into 80s computing. And now he makes Klein bottles and I get to see them! How cool is that???)

Aaanyway, back to Facebook. Well, to begin with, it's extremely laggy to me, probably thanks to a combination of two layers of adblock, Firefox and all this running on a 10-year-old Lenovo T420 (which, by the way, is perfect for anything else reasonable). But... yeah, you can upload pictures, and post things.

At which point I'd expect that... if you're finally giving in and look around around all these Evil Things, you'll encounter actual activity and people (... this is where everyone is hanging out, right?)

Well, um, apparently... not really? As in... yes, there seem to be some interesting groups, but... apparently, many of the people I'm friends with have disappeared, too.

Also, FB isn't even... good at making the site work. You unfollow a group? Well, you continue scrolling & yet another post shows up from there. You post something? Well, as it looks like, the entire thing likes to behave like a single-page JS app, so nothing actually really updates until you refresh the page explicitly.

I still think though that escaping from Facebook is a community act, and it's not just about the 3% FOSS people declaring that they'll be deleting their account and will be only typing binary into raw TCP pipes as their preferred (easiest!!!) solution from now on. Actual alternatives need to be better, which, given their code bloat and dark patterns, isn't even impossible, but... we definitely need to be more open with all this.

In a mildly related way, see also Nitter and other Internet reclamation projects by Drew DeVault.

... comments welcome, either in email or on the (eventual) Mastodon post on Fosstodon.