Going Nuclear With Facebook

Photo: Robert Huffstutter/Flickr

Exactly a year ago, I nuked my Facebook account. And I am glad I did.

Social media has matured enough that it is fully integrated with the ‘meatspace’, and we are now critiquing its impact. See here, here, here, here, and here.

Many of my Facebook friends take ‘detox’ breaks, quitting for set periods of time so they can engage with the real world over a weekend or something.

This detox method assumes that social media/Facebook is like drinking, and you should take a break before coming back with moderation. Social media as still external to your existence.

I don’t see it that way, and I’ll bypass the philosophical implications of my previous statement, but in the months leading up to my nuclear event, I had become aware that I did have a problem (step one achieved!).

I was emotionally attached. To Facebook. Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

There are several other good reasons to nuke your account, but the emotional attachment was number one for me. With four others closely following. So here they are:

Emotionally attached

Habits are funny beasts, especially socially acceptable ones like Facebook. I had poured myself into my Facebook account over many years. Every event, holiday, photo, meme, all faithfully recorded.

I was (and am) known for checking people into events before they have a chance to do it themselves.

Not just my life recorded and shared, but everyone I know on Facebook and their contribution to my life. Likes, comments, shares. Interaction.

But you know all of this, you do it too.

For me, that attachment to my very curated online life was not a good thing. I was serving Facebook rather than it serving me.

But what about that great photo from five years ago? Yeah, you can download it. All the reasons you rationalise to keep your years-old account are rubbish.

Look, I work in communications, and consult in social media, so no Facebook isn’t an option, but holding on to all those memories wasn’t healthy. Which brings me to…

Advertising and privacy

“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” — Andrew Lewis

Do you know who else is holding on to your memories? Mark Zuckerberg, that’s who. Yeah yeah, privacy and all that.

I am a moderate in this area, but the massive amount of data about my friends and me that Zuckerberg has and then sells to the highest bidder is not a great thing.

This, of course, is a much larger problem than just Facebook, but after many years of building my ad-targeting profile for them, I wanted a fresh start.

Newsfeed algorithm

Related to ads, is your newsfeed. You probably already know that it’s not chronological. There are legitimate reasons for this, but the net result is your timeline can turn into rubbish.

Mostly it’s your fault: you liked too many pages, commented on too many posts about weddings or babies. And so on.

You can take an intermediate step and spend the time to unlike hundreds of pages. This will make a small (and noticeable) difference. But if you are a heavy user, it will still suck to be on your own timeline. That’s because your feed isn’t just about what pages you have liked, it’s also about inferences.

Read my post about profiting from your inferences.

Every click, like, comment, post or photo view, and much more, goes into the magic sauce that is your newsfeed. There is simply no way to reset this. Unless you nuke it and start from scratch.

Aside from unchaining myself emotionally, this has been the biggest difference. My newsfeed is now significantly better than it was a year ago. And I work to keep it that way. No more random liking of pages.


Another bonus to my thermonuclear Facebook event was an SEO one. I have a Facebook page that was the same name as my personal account.

But as it was not as heavily used as my personal account, anyone typing in my name would get my personal account not my page in their search results.

If you want organic likes on your page, this is a problem. I kept on getting new ‘friends’ or followers. Both less than ideal.

Now, my personal account isn’t my exact name, and my page remains. Anyone typing in my name will come across my page first. SEO bonus achieved!

Remember those new ‘friends’ above, well…

Facebook friend cull

Nuking your account means essentially un-friending everyone and then re-friending them on your new account. No way to shortcut this (that I’m aware of).

Much like the pages problem above, you can do this one by one, and I have in the past, but going nuclear is quicker.

You choose who you want to re-friend. Anyone you forget or ‘forget’ can stay gone. And then when they search for you, they find your page first.

By the by, the feeling can be mutual, I had a few ‘friends’ that I tried to re-friend on my new account, only to have them ignore the request.

So, that’s what you get from going nuclear with Facebook. Totally worth it.

There are some technical issues you will need to deal with if you choose to this, so check out those too.

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