Social Enterprise

Faceless: I went one week without Facebook. Could I quit forever?

Or is the pull of the social-networking site just too strong?

Just over a week ago I disappeared off the face of Facebook.

What prompted this departure? It seemed like one Facebook privacy concern was being raised after another, and when the social network revealed it had introduced a facial-recognition feature with users opted-in by default, the team at silicon.com wondered why so many people are willing to put up with such treatment.

As an avid Facebook user - I probably spend an average of 45 minutes per day on the social network - the task fell to me to explore why people hold on to their Facebook accounts despite the threat the social network can pose to privacy.

I agreed to deactivate my account for one week to see how easy it would be to live in today's socially connected world without an account on the site that currently has around 600 million users worldwide.

It was a wrench, and I was surprised by how long I put off my online exit.

Like a nicotine addict having a final cigarette, I scrolled through my News Feed soaking up every last bit of social-networking information.

I indulged in a final tour of my Facebook profile with Intel's Museum of Me application which promised to take me on a "journey of visualisation that explores who I am".

How scary. Was I really about to destroy a record of "who I am"?

No quick getaway

When deactivating my account, Facebook pulled up pictures of my friends telling me they would miss me and prompting me to send them a message

Facebook implied that by deactivating my account, I was abandoning my friendsPhoto: Facebook

When I had finally decided it was time to go and clicked that all-important 'deactivate' link, I found that Facebook wasn't going to let me go without a fight.

It presented me with pictures of my Facebook friends, telling me they would miss me and prompting me to send them a message in an attempt to lure me back into the network.

It was emotional blackmail. Facebook was telling me that by ditching it, I was ditching my friends.

It made me realise that Facebook must be pretty desperate to keep me, and for the first time it occurred to me that...

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