I Want To Quit Facebook
September 29, 2019 7:02 AM   Subscribe

How to quit Facebook?

I like to see pics of my friends and read some of the interesting stuff that pops up. I belong to groups that I enjoy -- local gardening, cooking, stuff like that. I rarely post anything on Facebook.

Here is my dilemma -- I don't want to be tagged in photos and I don't want people to post pics of me.

Wanting to control what goes on Facebook is mostly about ego and preserving my "reputation" which is somewhat ridiculous but that desire is there. I would be happy if nothing was posted of me at all. Good or bad. I don't want people to post without my permission and that's hard to do on Facebook because Facebook settings don't allow you to prevent tagging outright.

An example of what bugs me emotionally when it comes to Facebook and "friends" and people: Recently I have befriended a couple through my kids' school who drink a lot. They are most likely alcoholics who value drinking more than I knew. I recently had an outing with these friends, and see them socially on occasion. Their lives revolve around drinking. When I've seen them socially they take pics of us together and have tagged me on Facebook. There is a repulsion that is present even though I have close and dear family members who are recovering and active alcoholics. I no longer want to be friends with these people but that's another AskMe.

This is the kind of thing that makes me want to quit Facebook, along with other privacy concerns. There is no concrete way of preventing tagging (I know there is a "preview what goes on your timeline" option). I could ask but that's awkward.

I have an urge to quit Facebook but not sure how it will affect my social life and invites and friends and such. Have you quit Facebook? Did you find that your social life suffered? How did it go overall after you quit Facebook?
posted by loveandhappiness to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I don't want people to post without my permission and that's hard to do on Facebook because Facebook settings don't allow you to prevent tagging outright.

Yes they do. No one can tag me in a photo on Facebook without my permission. I get a request to review the photo when someone tries.
posted by amro at 7:12 AM on September 29, 2019 [31 favorites]

I just went and looked - under Settings, go to Timeline and Tagging.
posted by amro at 7:15 AM on September 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

Sounds like it might be easier to just unfriend this particular couple?
posted by tinkletown at 7:25 AM on September 29, 2019 [5 favorites]

In addition to changing your tagging settings and unfriending that particular couple, you might want to consider deleting your News Feed.

Earlier this year, I was in a similar place -- I was considering quitting Facebook entirely, but I was concerned about losing track of some people and events. Instead, I used a tool called Nudge (found via Poynter). It empties out your News Feed by unfollowing (not unfriending) all friends, pages, and groups. From there, you can choose to selectively re-follow any people, pages, or groups you choose. If I want to catch up with someone or check out upcoming events, I can choose to go looking for them, rather than having the News Feed firehose pointed at my face. It's actually made my life better -- Facebook now feels like a useful, slightly boring tool rather than a parasite that's hijacked my brain. Here's a bit more from the Nudge creator about why you might want to delete your News Feed.
posted by ourobouros at 7:39 AM on September 29, 2019 [17 favorites]

Most of the people I know who quit or want to quit Facebook do it as a way to manage the way they interact with it, because they spend too much time there and it's hard to avoid being drawn in. It doesn't sound like that's your problem. Given that you name a number of benefits, I think you should find/try other solutions first.

It's OK to keep your friends list pared down to people you actually like to interact with on Facebook. (People I know who keep a very pared-down friendslist are often up-front about that so that people aren't hurt about not being friends there. You can say something like "I've been rethinking how I use Facebook so I'm limiting my friends to...yada yada yada) It's also OK (morally, though probably not per the rules of Facebook) to use a name that isn't your actual name and that people can't find or identify you by. (Many people I know do this, I think sometimes aided by using a name that seems plausible, like their middle name or something.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:40 AM on September 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you for the answers so far.

Sorry. Yes. To clarify there is a "review posts you've been tagged in before the post appears on your timeline".

My phrasing of "without my permission" is not good.

Here's a scenario: You have a friend who just took some pics of you and her together smiling the night before at the baseball game and now she has to request if you can be tagged and you have to give an answer of no. It would be great if there were a setting that didn't permit tagging at all instead of a request or a preview or a permission.

Also, if you do review posts you've been tagged in and don't give permission, can they still tag you with the tagged photo or post appearing on their timeline?
posted by loveandhappiness at 7:42 AM on September 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Have you quit Facebook? Did you find that your social life suffered? How did it go overall after you quit Facebook?

1. Yes.
2. No, if anything it improved as I make more effort to see people in person, send them personal emails or texts instead of hoping they see a status update, etc.
3. Overall it is a great positive. The relatively minor downsides are I do miss seeing updates from cousins and acquaintances, and there are some groups for my hobbies that I can't participate in. I made the mistake of organizing a homebrewing club on FB (the main club in the city normally meets across town and I realized we had critical mass locally) but I managed to mostly move our online activity to Slack. The positives are there's no more feeling that I am supporting a company that repeatedly breaks promises and exploits user information, has knowingly sold out US democracy, provides a platform for hate and violence, and generally acts as a source of evil in the world. Then there is the time gained - I was as bad as most people at wasting time there. And apparently Facebook Messenger is even more of a mandatory shitshow than it was before I left, so I don't have to deal with that anymore.

If you are on the fence about deleting your Facebook account, I encourage you to do it. Nobody I know who has taken that step has regretted it.
posted by exogenous at 7:45 AM on September 29, 2019 [6 favorites]

Yes, I quit Facebook. However, I stayed on Instagram (although I deleted the app and reduced the time I spend there).

No, my social life did not suffer, but 75% of my friends do not use Facebook for scheduling social events (preferring email or texting). The ones who do, I tend to hear about their events through the grapevine.

Overall, it was part of a larger change I made to reduce my use of social media. The transition from being able to passively keep an eye on my friends’ news through social media to having to actively check in on them and make direct contact has been a bit bumpy. I need to put more time and effort into texting, emailing, or calling to say hello now that I’m not liking their photos and such. But I’m working on it! Even with this, I am very happy that I quit Facebook.
posted by sallybrown at 7:51 AM on September 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

I quite Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in January 2018. Here are main takeaways on quitting Facebook for you:
  • Harder to unwind and quit then you would think. If you want to really delete everything, you have to stay off the site for (I think) 30 days; if you log in during that time, it restarts the clock.
  • A bunch of people I knew very casually in real life just fell away, I've totally lost track of them.
  • I realized that FB is dominant way to send group invitations. I've missed some events because I wasn't on FB to get an invitation. I also get cranky emails from organizer of events, inviting me to something and asking why I'm not on FB.
  • Same with groups - FB seems to be a very common way to organize groups. The one I miss the most: my neighborhood association; they operate almost entirely through FB.
  • You'll have do decide what to do about FB Messenger, I didn't realize how much this was a lowest common denominator for messaging with people. I deleted Messenger, but It is possible to keep FB messenger w/o being on FB.
  • I got a lot of time back, especially in the form of those little five or ten minute chunks when I would be waiting on something and just open FB on my phone. Initially I filled it in with news apps, which felt like quitting drinking only to take up smoking, but I got more mindful and used it to read books or longform stuff.
  • I genuinely believe it helped my mental health. Certainly not seeing people in my circle who wear their politics on their sleeve posting and reposting was a benefit.
  • I don't have a large family but my partner does and I can see that if your family uses FB to communicate, you are going to be a little more distant from everyone if you drop out.
Overall, for me the benefits of quitting outweighed the negatives, but it certainly had a few consequences.
posted by kovacs at 7:55 AM on September 29, 2019 [8 favorites]

It sounds like the root of the problem is the real-life part, when the photo is being taken of you and the couple. If you don't particularly want photographic evidence of your association with them to show up anywhere, you need to either not be in photos with them or be super clear with them at the time is photo is taken that you consider it confidential.

Most people can understand maybe you don't want a photo with an alcoholic beverage in your own hand, or maybe you don't want a bathing suit or other revealing or unflattering photo posted. But if you don't want anyone else to know that you were sitting next to them in the ball park and smiling, it may be hard to explain that and stay friends.

If you block specific people on Facebook, they can't ever tag you on Facebook again.

If you want to remove a tag, try How do I remove a tag from a photo or post I'm tagged in?
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 9:15 AM on September 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

I quit Facebook a year or so ago. My thoughts:

- I didn't realize how much mental "noise" FB created, and how glad I am that it's gone. Same goes for TV, but that's another AskMe.
- I've lost touch with people I only knew casually or through FB. That's honestly fine by me.
- I realized that I gained a good bit of time back because I wasn't sucked into the rabbit hole of various FB drama or news.
- I certainly miss out on some social events that are organized via FB. Again, that's fine by me.

This has some potential consequences, though:

- My grad program, which is 100% online, does most of their organizing and networking through FB. I'm not part of that, and to be honest I'm not thrilled that the program is heavily dependent on a platform that not everyone is willing to participate in.
- I don't see a lot of what my family, who all live about 2 hours away, is up to. This is mostly OK - I have a massive extended family and there are a lot of reasons why I don't really live near them. But it would be nice to see some of what my siblings and nieces are doing.
- When people do want to include me, they have to make an extra effort to do so. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I see that as more of a "me" problem than a "them" problem, because I'm the one who chose to disconnect.

Overall, though - no regrets. I've been online for a long time, and was an early adopter of most social media platforms. Now I'm on almost none of them, and feel better for it.
posted by ralan at 9:19 AM on September 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Your friends won’t get an alert if you say no to the tag.

I have a friend who always takes tons of photos at events and posts candids. I commented once or twice that I don’t like the candid he posts of me, and ... he stopped posting candids of me.

You’re asking how to quit Facebook, but it sounds like what you really want is to manage a slightly awkward social situation. Here are the options, from least impact to highest:
1. Decline to have your photo taken
2. When your photo is taken, say, “Hey, please don’t post this on social media.”
3. When they post a photo and tag you, decline the tag
4. Ask them to remove photos of you from social media
1000. Quit Facebook
posted by bluedaisy at 9:29 AM on September 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Have you quit Facebook? Did you find that your social life suffered? How did it go overall after you quit Facebook?

Yes. No. Amazingly positive and noticeable. There are answers already like from exogenous that I don't need to retype. I miss the this day in history with my kids photos. And I had to manually get birthdays out of the platform.... But other than updates from casual acquaintances I don't miss anything socially and I truly still, 2 years on, notice how much less I reach for my phone during family or social dinners....

I love having it gone. Feels like a bad breakup.... How did I stay so long???
posted by chasles at 9:34 AM on September 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

I fully support you if you want to quit Facebook. But as a data point, I have friends who both control their tagging /and/ have asked me not to tag them or indeed upload pictures with them to social media/FB so...I don’t. Ever. (I also sometimes “snooze” relatives I don’t want to see posts from.)

The problem may be your friends here.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:13 AM on September 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

Facebook has their own controls but I've found using the Facebook Purity extension *really* gives you the ability to customize your FB experience.
posted by Twicketface at 10:31 AM on September 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

I quit Facebook outright at the beginning of the year and I promise to you, your life will get better and you won’t miss much of anything. Cut the cord.
posted by katypickle at 10:38 AM on September 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

I didn't quit Facebook so much so as I stopped logging in or posting anything to my news feed (and also stopped appearing in photos where I was tagged), and yes, it absolutely did negatively affect my social life. Yes, at the time I made the decision to step back it was good for me to not be involved in a certain amount of drama, but as time went on

In addition to some of the considerations other people mentioned upthread, one of the more challenging things that happened was that people had fewer ways to easily engage in my life. I know you had another post about social media "braggarts", and there's a time that I would have fully agreed with it, but what I was missing is that the "braggarts" were giving other people a bunch of lower-effort ways to take part in their lives, their happiness. In the long run, I think that people who weren't involved in my life in a day-to-day way found it a lot more difficult to connect with me because they (a) didn't have little snippets of what was going on, which helps a lot with small talk fodder (b) they would have to get in touch with me through calling or email or meeting up, which are all potentially more risky if you don't really have a sense of what's going on in someone's life. It all kind of led to a perception that I wasn't up to anything I was proud of, and it became a lot more difficult for people to reconnect with me after being apart for a while. It also made me attempting to reconnect with old friends awkward for similar reasons.

This might be different for people who live in close proximity to people they want to keep in touch or spend time with, and it might also be different or people who are active on some other social media platform. Also, I scaled back my Facebook involvement about 10 years ago (I'm one of those people whose university got FB pretty early on) so my experiences may be different than those who quit relatively recently or after years of heavy use.

It doesn't sound as though your problem is Facebook-related so much as it is about being clear about your preferences about being tagged in photos (and also, maybe, not being friends with people whose values you have an issue with). Lots of people have running jokes about being camera-shy with their friends - they just don't get tagged in their photos, and it's fine and not awkward.
posted by blerghamot at 1:10 PM on September 29, 2019 [4 favorites]

Well over a year ago, I deleted all my content in Facebook and locked down permissions as tight as possible and quit all groups and unfriended everyone but two friends. I kept Facebook only as a bridge to a game I play with said two friends.
I do not miss it one bit. Yes I miss out on a few things but it’s 1000% worth it
posted by ReiFlinx at 1:40 PM on September 29, 2019

Ages ago I deleted all my own FB content, locked down other folks’ ability to tag me as much as the site allows, and remain on FB only to read content in a couple of private groups where important local political organizing happens. Yes, there are people I never talk to or hear from now, and social events I don’t know about if I go a couple of weeks between checking in. That’s fine for me - I don’t want or need much of a social life and the folks I most want to talk to, I am in touch with other ways - but it could be a real downside for other people.

I have no regrets except that I still have to check in once in a while for those local groups. But I’ve mostly made peace with that trade off.
posted by Stacey at 2:48 PM on September 29, 2019

deletefacebook.com has some helpful instructions.
posted by mark7570 at 4:41 PM on September 29, 2019

I haven't seen this exactly yet, and it may or may not help but:

Would it help, in addition to the tagging management, etc. to remove Facebook from your phone and _only_ use it in a web browser at home? It wouldn't be "in your face" so much.
posted by TimHare at 7:11 PM on September 29, 2019 [3 favorites]

I gave up checking my news feed for a few months but I also kept the separate Local app because basically all my friends plan their events via Facebook and I didn’t want to be excluded. For me, not checking my news feed didn’t have any discernible effect on my mood, mental health or how I spent my time. Some people find it life changing but it didn’t have much of an impact on me. Just a data point.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:33 AM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I quit Facebook about four years ago. There are some social and political events I don't know about and some people whose lives I don't know about as much. However, to make up for it, I started texting with my sister more and the friends who wanted to keep in touch still did. Overall, I feel happier without it distracting me during the workday. YMMV, but I feel better without it.
posted by Kurichina at 7:48 AM on September 30, 2019

I ditched FB for a couple years and had no social repercussions. I recently went back just to have a social media presence for my website. I follow a few groups and mostly ignore the news feed. I have found marketplace helpful in finding a new phone and selling my old one. I treat all social media pretty much the same way.
posted by kathrynm at 8:39 AM on September 30, 2019

Just leave. I did, had them delete my data and was free as of December 2018. Haven't missed it at ALL. I still find out about events and parties. Facebook is evil, for so many reasons I've been compiling a txt file with links to articles explaining why. Today the latest was that large amounts of child porn is trafficked there and FB does nothing. They aid and abet Trump. They harbor white supremacists. They treat their own employees like dirt. They enable propoganda on a massive scale. Be done with them.
posted by agregoli at 11:57 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I deleted facebook a bit over a year ago. My wife is still on it and sometimes she will get invitations for things that may have gone to me otherwise. I've had the same email address for 20 years and phone number for longer so the people who are going to be inviting me to stuff know how to get in touch with me. I have lost contact with most of my friends from school as well as living abroad but I haven't visited either of those places since ditching facebook so don't know how it'll affect things there.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:03 PM on September 30, 2019

What blerghamot said. I tried it, and it reduced my social options because I wasn't aware of events and people don't always remember to separately e-mail me about everything (and it's a lot to ask of them). It also made them feel less close to me because we weren't keeping up with each other's lives as regularly, and both knowing what's going on and interacting withh each other's posts increases closeness. For people with a close, robust family and social network, I can imagine benefits. For me, it was a net negative.
posted by metasarah at 10:52 AM on October 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

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