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blog: Don Marti

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Deleting Facebook as signaling

29 November 2018

Many researchers who study human behavior on the Internet will point out that calls to "just delete Facebook" are unrealistic for many users. A lot of people depend on the company for family connections, health-related support groups, or even employment.

Which, of course, should make deleting Facebook an easy win from an economic signaling point of view. If you can credibly stay off Facebook, you're signaling that you have the skills, wealth, health, and social capital not to need it. What could be better? Why aren't more people signaling their fitness through conspicuous lack of Facebook dependence? Two reasons.

  • If you delete your account, it's too easy for others to make fake accounts imitating you, so it looks like you're on there anyway.

  • The decision to #deleteFacebook is easily reversible. You could easily come sneaking back.

So the thing to do if you want to get signaling power out of quitting Facebook is to not just delete your account, but do two things.

  • keep your account live so that it keeps your name "squatted on" in Facebook-space.

  • take a credible action to lock yourself out (that is in compliance with the Facebook ToS, of course).

How about this? Get a "burner" SIM, make that the one phone number for your account, then let me hang on to the SIM for you. I'll periodically post a list of everyone whose Facebook account is associated with a SIM I hold, but I won't be able to log in. I'll charge a monthly storage fee to keep the SIM for you, but it only comes due when you reclaim it.

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