Why do I use Facebook?
That was question that I – and millions of others like me – have been asking ourselves in the wake of the data breach scandal.
With family and friends all over the world I use Facebook to stay in touch with them and peer into the lives of people I went to school with but no longer see.
Of course this was the reason why Mark Zuckerberg launched the social media platform in 2004 but how times have changed.
The furore over the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal made me check my Facebook account to see how many apps have access to my personal data. The answer was a staggering 384!!! I couldn’t even name 384 apps but they’ve all poring over my life. I didn’t realise I was that interesting!
My colleague Chris Maguire only had four apps accessing his data but I had 384 because I sign into other apps like Spotify; Words With Friends; and My Fitness Pal through my Facebook account because it’s easy and efficient.
At the time I had no problem with them having my details, interests, friends’ names and potentially my phone number and address but I would never have signed up if I knew that Cambridge Analytica was going to happen.
Then it hit me. The truth is my use of Facebook has been dwindling for years. I’m 29 and people of my age post less stuff so there’s less to see. It’s a vicious cycle. Facebook is less relevant to me but I’d ‘forgotten’ or not realised that an army of apps were still looking at my personal data.
It reminded me of my gym experiences. I joined the gym for the same reason everyone else does, to look great and improve my health.
That might be the reason I joined, but it’s not the reason I stayed. Like so many other people I stopped going in a matter of weeks but carried on paying my membership every month despite my gym bag gathering dust in the corner of my flat.
So why do I keep my membership to the gym, or to Facebook, when I no longer use either of them?
Because it means I don’t have to face the inevitable truth. I might rediscover my enthusiasm to go to the next spin class in the same way I might discover my passion for Facebook.
But, if I’m truly honest with myself, the boat has sailed. Instead of going to the gym I prefer to run at work. I don’t need a gym and I don’t need Facebook.
I’ve already cancelled my gym membership and I’m thinking about doing the same with Facebook. Why do I use Facebook? The truth is I don’t know.