Facebook’s biggest problem is that I can stop using it and be fine

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., listens during a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., listens during a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

I’m not deleting Facebook. But I’m content not using it as much in the future, and that’s the company’s bigger problem.

Facebook needs oxygen to grow. When users engage with their friends, they give advertisers the eyeballs they so covet. And because Facebook offers so much targeting data with such a massive audience, brands just keep increasing their spending.

It not just advertisers using that data. According to the latest New York Times expose on Facebook’s data-sharing practices, “more than 150 companies — most of them tech businesses” benefited from improperly shared information. Spotify and Amazon were among the beneficiaries.

Like many others, I’ve lost trust in Facebook. But I have more than 14 years of photos and videos on the site. It’s become my storage vault for those cherished family events. I’m not going to burn my virtual photo album because of some unsavory data sharing. The reality is I don’t much need the app for future activities. Google Photos and iPhoto can suffice, even though I may miss the nice comments and occasional emoji. The Facebook marketplace is occasionally useful, but I’m not buying and selling used stuff that often.

I don’t have to cancel my Facebook account altogether for the company to feel the pain. I never shut down my Friendster or MySpace accounts — my friends and I just stopped using them.

So far, Facebook’s user numbers and engagement levels have consistently grown, quarter after quarter, allowing the company to see past its many deficiencies. Reversing this trend should force the company into action. If you want to send a message, that should do it. Investors are clearly worried, pushing the stock down 5 percent on Wednesday and 22 percent this year.

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