Facebook: Handle with Care

Here's the link of the article originally written for Republica. 

Can you stay a while without using Facebook? I am pretty sure many Facebook users today cannot stay without it for more than a week. Those of us addicted to using social media like Facebook and Twitter cannot remain calm without updating our statuses and checking news feed on a regular basis.

In its short span of existence, Facebook has undoubtedly been the most preferred and social networking site across the globe. Especially, young population shares larger portion of the user community. Facebook is one of those online sites through which everyone is digitally occupying their space in order to create online presence for digital citizenship.

Digital citizenship isn’t only about dealing with online tools, but about building safe spaces and communities, understanding how to manage personal information, and about being internet-savvy. Frequently browsing the web helps strengthen people’s awareness and encourages technology users to become responsible digital citizens.

Believe it or not, the emergence of new media has challenged traditional media like print and broadcast media since they have editorial restrictions. Newspapers, radios and televisions are selective in nature, limited in scope, easily inaccessible and they lack autonomy too. But social media has recently been a faster means of not only keeping track of friends, families, but also of getting latest news updates in real time. The most important thing is that you can express anything you like without inhibition.

There is a flip side to it as well. Facebook users have been targeted by big business corporations to sell their commodities. Facebook manipulates users’ thoughts and emotions, expressed in posts, and sends targeted advertisements. However, there is a way out of this capitalist trap.
Going off the grid once in a while helps you fine tuning your Facebook experience. I conducted a mini-research on it. Deactivating your Facebook account at least for a while can help you use social media safely and securely. Deactivating temporarily will untag you from photos, and other posts you are tagged on, but your data remains intact.

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In International New York Times, technology columnist Molly Wood argues that deletion of Facebook account for some unavoidable reasons will not immediately remove your digital footprint on Facebook as the data remains for about 90 days. And deactivating account for a while will make you able to concentrate on your work without distractions.

It is advisable for Facebook users to deactivate the account for a bit by visiting Setting, Security, and clicking Deactivate your account. While deactivating, you will be asked to choose one of the options suggested and you need to choose: “This is temporary. I’ll be back”. Once the account is deactivated, your profile disappears from the Facebook service immediately. People on Facebook will not be able to search for you and you will be untagged from all the posts including nonsense ones which might adversely affect your relations and career. But some information, like messages you sent, may still be visible to others. All your data and your profile remains and you can reactivate whenever you want. After you choose to reactivate your account, you’ll find the information on your profile intact.

Moreover, to safely handle Facebook, you can use privacy section under “Setting” option to control the photos and posts you have been tagged in, and you can easily remove those tags yourself if necessary. The privacy setting also lets you limit your posts to be shared with public, friends, friends of friends, and others.

Deletion of the account is not that easy, though. Visit http://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account. Before you delete it, you can download a copy of your Facebook data for future by visiting “General Account Setting” under “Setting”. But you will not be able to regain access to your account again and it will completely be inaccessible to other people using Facebook.

But the important thing is that control options in the setting offered by Facebook can prevent you from becoming victim of misuse.

Be careful about different apps and think twice and learn more about them before you click them as they may access your private information, and share it in public. It is better to visit “Help” page under “Setting” to learn more about how to handle Facebook with care. Then only, you, as a Facebook user, will be save yourself from becoming an emotionally manipulated guinea pig for business corporations.

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