'Quit Facebook Day' Looks Like A Hard Sell

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With the deafening media uproar over Facebook's confusing and sneaky privacy policies, you'd think that the upcoming "Quit Facebook Day" would be a grassroots hit among the social network's hundreds of millions of devotees. But as of Friday May 28, just three days before the big event, fewer than 24,000 Facebook users have committed to quitting the service.

'Quit Facebook Day' Looks Like A Hard Sell
To put that number in perspective, Facebook currently has more than 400 million active users. So, yes, a miniscule 0.006 percent of the site's fans are miffed enough by Facebook's mystifying privacy settings to take their online socializing elsewhere.

Backlash Brewing?

It's possible, of course, that the number of Facebook quitters will rise dramatically on Monday, May 31--the official "Quit Facebook Day"--as word of the protest spreads across the Web. But the lack of interest thus far is a telling indication of the average Facebooker's indifference to the ongoing privacy debate.

Then again, a recent survey by security firm Sophos shows that at least 60 percent of Facebook users are considering quitting the site over privacy concerns, so who knows what people are really thinking.

Privacy and consumer advocates have blasted Facebook for the way it shares user data on the site and across the Web. The social net's "opt-out" approach to privacy--your personal data shared with third-party services by default--plus the site's needlessly complex privacy controls, have also incurred the wrath of U.S. lawmakers.

We're Changing

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to critics this week by announcing an extensive overhaul of the site's privacy tools, most notably a simpler set of controls for opting out of information sharing.

Will Facebook's revised privacy policies quell the quit-Facebook brigade? It's possible, but a certain degree of distrust is bound to remain.

The "Quit Facebook Day" page says it best: "Facebook gives you choices about how to manage your data, but they aren't fair choices, and while the onus is on the individual to manage these choices, Facebook makes it damn difficult for the average user to understand or manage this. We also don't think Facebook has much respect for you or your data, especially in the context of the future."

The organizers of "Quit Facebook Day," Joseph Dee and Matthew Milan, both of Toronto, couldn't be reached for comment.

Whatever the outcome of Monday's anti-Facebook event, the world's most popular social network shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, Google just released a list of the top 1,000 websites in the world. Guess who's Number One?

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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