I was about to delete my Facebook profile. Now I just want everyone to unfriend me (UPDATED 2x)


Update at 15:15 on 14 May 2010

Two things.

1) Deleting my account is too damaging to ME. I'm hooked in to various websites with Facebook Connect, have lots of content in my profile I don't want to lose and have lots of tagged photos of me I'd rather not use. So I'm manually defriending everyone and will start all over. If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you can help me by defriending me first.

2) Good news. I found out from a friend at Facebook that deleting a profile does not delete Pages administered by that profile so long as there are other admins for the Page. This was one of my biggest concerns with deletion, and I and others can rest easily knowing that Pages will live on. For any of you who administer a Facebook Page, I highly recommend you appoint a backup as admin just in case something happens to your account. This is especially true of companies. Don't have just one employee be the admin of your Pages. Set up an isolated profile for the purposes of admin. Do it now. Consider it part of your data backup process.

Update at 17:36 on 13 May 2010

Amazing response from everyone. I really appreciate the comments and assistance here, on FB and on Twitter. Because I can't get a clear ruling on what happens to pages I admin, I've thought of another way to blow up my profile, albeit slowly.

Remember that the primary purpose of this exercise is to unclog my feeds, event listings, app/page/group invites and general noise. I had originally sought to defriend most of my 5,000 people, but I found that process unbearably slow. If I wasn't sure I knew the person, I would click around his or her profile to get an idea. If I recognized the person, I would maintain the friendship. Otherwise, defriended!

I have friend lists set up, so I'd love if FB offered a batch defriend. (i.e. defriend everyone NOT on Lists X, Y and Z). However, that would be useful, and Facebook is only designed to be useful to Facebook, so that's not going to happen.

Here's the thing. I've just been making plans to NUKE my account, meaning I'm willing to lose ALL friends for a fresh slate, meaning I can simply defriend EVERYONE with no deliberation at all. How long would that take?

Well, i clocked the defriending process at about 15 seconds: load friend page, click on friend name, click on remove from friend, click on confirm. Repeat.

4,620 friends X 15 seconds per defriending = 69,300 seconds = 1,155 minutes = 19.25 hours

Incidentally, I spoke with a comedian friend who manually defriended his account (Aaron Karo), and he said it took two 10-hour days, so I'm right on.

The downside: this move lacks the drama of "I'm deleting my facebook account, bitches!!"

The upside: I maintain the useful hooks facebook has into my life (FB connect on scores of sites/apps, several hundred uploaded photos and several hundred tagged photos, Page admin certainty). 

I really really wanted to blow up my account, but it seems more like plan B of deconstructing the friend network brick by brick is more sane for my purposes. So, I look forward to 20 hours of work. Actually, an intern can look forward to 20 hours of work!

Original Post Below

This is it people. I posted the following as an event on Facebook, trying to give as many of my friends notice as possible. Shit is long cause Facebook is unnecessarily hella confusing.

I'm going to delete my Facebook account and start all over.

This is my way of notifying as many "friends" as possible. Please feel free to post this event to your wall or explicitly invite others so people have some warning. ---

I recommend RIGHT NOW that you do the following: "like" this page and join my retro email list 

My new profile will be for more personal connections & professional colleagues, and I'll aggressively drive others to my page ( http://facebook.com/baratunde ) for everything else. Why? Ever since I hit the friend limit, life here has gotten incredibly noisy. I get scores of event invites, notifications and group/page/app alerts every day, and it's overwhelming, and makes Facebook frustrating and largely useless. I tried deleting people to get my profile back down to a manageable size, but that's far too slow and would take over a year at my current rate. It's far more efficient for me to initiate the self-destruct sequence.

I'll add that Facebook's recent, creepy expansion into anti-privacy helped me pull the trigger, but this is mostly about lack of manageability of a large profile.

So What Does This Mean For You?

If you want professional updates from my various lives and all the cool content-based links i've been sharing for years, "like" my page at http://facebook.com/baratunde

I WILL create a new FB profile, but it will be much smaller in scope than the old one, and I'll be far more selective about who I friend.

Some of you are right now both "friends" and "fans" and you get double notification when I post the same thing to both accounts. I'll try to limit this in the future. The Profile will be more personal, and I'll try to keep the professional noise-making to the Page (to the extent that FB makes this reasonable).

If you're interested in the evolution of my thoughts around this, check out this google buzz piece from a few months ago (back when I used Buzz). I don't make this decision lightly, and I'm not trying to be a diva.

There are at least two big downsides to this decision I can see. a) I probably won't regain the "audience" on the fan page that I've had in the profile, at least in the short term. This will reduce my impact in Facebook whether for getting content out there or promoting political messages. This will also hurt my ego a little bit. b) I won't be able to "listen" as well from the fan page side since those pages don't see the activities of the people who "like" them. Friendship is two-way. Page-liking is one-way. This will make me look like a douchebag to people who are not me.

For MOST of you, however, there won't be a big difference. As it stands now, I'm "friends" with so many people, I can't effectively listen anyway. I'll still engage in conversation and trash talk on the fan page, and there are no limits to its growth (until Facebook decides to change things without warning).

That's all for now. It's a shame it's come to this, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures again I recommend RIGHT NOW that you do the following: "like" this page and join my retro email list 

Addendum

Now for the unresolvedness: existing pages that I administer through my profile. 

My biggest concern is what happens to all the pages i admin?

I have another non-public account I use as a backup admin for my pages, but someone told me that Pages are specially tied to the PRIMARY admin profile, and if i delete that profile, the Page disappears I cannot have that happen as I help admin (with my profile as the primary) Jack & Jill Politics, my tv show and other.

I did a test in which i created a profile (Profile A) and a Page, then added Profile B as an admin and deleted Profile A. It worked, and Profile B was still able go admin the Page, but that isn't conclusive because Profile A wasn't fully deleted. Facebook makes all deleted profiles sit in a deactivated state for 14 days

Point is I can't test what happens to Pages under a deleted primary profile admin scenario for another 14 days unless you can tell me.

Does anyone know? Have you been able to effectively pass admin duties from one Facebook profile to another? Have you ever deleted a profile that was the primary admin for a Page, and did the Page live to tell about it? 

You know what would be awesome? If Facebook explained this.

A more ideal scenario: one profile-page-thing to rule them all

Over two years ago, I gave a presentation at a Facebook-related conference. Here are my notes and slides. My beef centered on the half-assed solutions and confusing options Facebook has between profiles, groups and pages. Sadly, years later, that confusion still exists and is the main impetus for my account reboot.

I'll try to keep this short, but I will fail. That failure is Facebook's, not mine. Twitter does this better. By allowing asymmetric relationships (you follow me, but I don't have to follow you), Twitter has allowed certain types of account holders to scale in a way that Facebook still does not. 

Facebook friendship is symmetric. For those of us (admittedly a small, but potent group) in public life -- comedians, musicians, etc -- who grew with the service, we started hitting the friend limit of 5,000. Facebook created Pages to satisfy such users. Pages are exclusively asymmetric. You follow (or fan (or like)) a Page, but it cannot follow you back. 

On paper, this is a reasonable solution: split account types between profiles and Pages. Those who anticipate growing beyond the profile needs can get a Page. However, the execution is a hot mess. Why? The default behavior of people trying to connect with you on Facebook is to "friend" you. 

People who have seen me on the news or a live show find me on Facebook via search, and they send a FRIEND request. There is no way for me to indicate to these people inside of Facebook that what they really want to do is fan (or like) my Page instead. So I end up a) accepting people as friends who really weren't, and then trying to migrate them to fan (or like) status by telling them about my Page or b) messaging back EVERY person who friend requests me and manually telling them "dear sir or madam, would you be so kind as to click over yonder?"

This is useless and confusing and stupid. 

The other problem is that Pages must be administered by a Profile. So, I need to have a profile on Facebook in order to have a Page on Facebook. They've set up a system that inflates the number of accounts in the system needlessly. 

To lay it out differently and hopefully more clearly. Facebook has two representation types.

 

  1. Profile: exclusively symmetric. That is, Profile A and Profile B are friends and see each other's activity.
  2. Pages: exclusively asymmetric. That is, Profile A "likes" Page B and sees B's activity. Page B cannot see the activity of Profile A. Also Page B cannot have any kind of relationship with Page C or Page D. (e.g. as Jack and Jill Politics, I cannot write on the wall of Talking Points Memo. As the band Soulfege, I cannot write on the page for the band The Mieka Canon) I have to do it under my personal profile or not at all. 

 

There's a nice little twist to the Pages world which I'll lay out for accuracy. Pages can have relationships with one another in the form of "Favorite Pages" and @ linking. So, the Jack and Jill Politics Page can list Talking Points Memo as a "favorite page," and in status updates, the JJP page can @link (Twitter style) to TPM, provided that the Profile which is currently logged in and administering the page is a fan (or likes) Talking Points Memo

Yeah. Confused? So let's say JJP has several profiles with admin rights. Profile A and Profile B. If Profile A has "liked" TPM, then that user can @link to TPM on the JJP page or add TPM as a favorite page to the JJP page. But if Profile B has not also "liked" TPM, that user has no such powers. Also, the following Facebook features available for profiles don't work on Pages: notifications (one has to manually check a page to see if someone's written on the wall), tagging (you can't tag a page in a note or photo. really shitty for bands), messaging. This is fucking nuts.

Twitter has done away with all this nonsense. There is but one account type, and the symmetry of the relationship is determined by each party. Facebook needs to unify these account types. Instead, they've recently added something called "community pages" which is some sort of psuedo Wikipedia knockoff that is only going to confuse the issue even more. 

I have my official page here. But I've recently discovered this and THIS

Someone please tell Facebook we already have an Internet!

So basically, I'm gambling. I'm focusing all my public Facebook presence on my Page. My profile will be smaller, less noisy and hopefully less annoying as a result. But do you see how much of my life has just disappeared? Hell, how much of your life disappeared just reading this?? That should not be the point of these services. If you want a simpler, more flexible, less insane space, find me on Twitter or check out my live calendar and come say hello in person

Bollocks.