Facebook Exodus - Let My People Go!

Curious if Mark Zuckerberg and his top-ranked consigliores actually strategized in advance of launching their Open Graph, as to how they would handle a potential backlash from their user-base? Did the thought even cross their minds as to the possible discontent that could be created in the Blogosphere? Was there a game plan in place to address political criticism from Senators and the Federal Trade Commission?

If not? Why not? Lacking a beta test, any new launch runs a risk of not investing the proper amount of time in taking a read from the 'wisdom of crowds.' Was the insular world of Facebook's Silicon Valley mindset so head-strong, that 'think-tanks' weren't organized in advance of the roll-out to work through "what-if" scenarios?

Apparently not - because if someone were to have told Zuckerberg that the Open Graph roll-out could stand to lose almost 10 percent of its user-base, I think he would have thought twice.

On May 11th, the exodus began to mobilize through Google Search. The phrase "how to quit Facebook" generated nearly 17 million results  and "how do I delete my Facebook account?" resulted in close to 16 million, according to an InformationWeek report. And these results surfaced over just a one-day period. Granted, the 33 million total search results does not guarantee that 100% of these folks will actually 'deactivate' or 'delete; their Facebook accounts, but it's a darn good gauge as to the amount of discontent that exists as a result of Facebook's ill-conceived launch.

If Zuckerberg were to dismiss these numbers as too small to matter, perhaps he should pay attention to some of the heavy weights that are included in that growing "exodus" group. Google's webspam chief Matt Cutts deactivated his Facebook account on April 22 and posted the following tweet to register his displeasure a point of record.

Peter Rojas, Gizmodo and Engadget founder discussed his decision to cut his Facebook ties as well.  "I Peter RojasPeter Rojaswas spending more time managing my account than actually using my account," he told ABCNews.com. "Having to constantly monitor the privacy settings was way too complicated. You can never be sure if you actually caught everything," noted Rojas. He was referring to the multi-step process one needs to wrangle through to opt-out of "Instant Personalization."

Opting Out of Instant PersonalizationOpting Out of Instant Personalization
For others who are also interested in joining the Exodus, Facebook offers users two options: Deactivation or Deletion. With deactivation located under "Account Setting,' users choose to enter a limbo status. Here, accounts are frozen and profile information is no longer available on Facebook - but the network saves the information in case the users decides to re-activate at a future date.

Deactivated users do not appear on community pages, and tagged photographs are de-tagged. In addition, status updates from the user's page are taken down and names on friends' walls are no longer clickable. Users can keep their accounts deactivated for an unlimited period of time, according to Facebook.

"We preserve the account in its entirety. People often deactivate for temporary reasons and expect their content and information to be there for them when they return," a Facebook spokesman said in a statement to ABCNews.com.

Those looking to completely end their relationship with Facebook can delete their accounts by visiting the Help Center and searching for "delete account." To prevent spur-of-the-moment break-ups, Facebook then waits 14 days to delete the account. Copies of some materials may be kept for "technical reasons," according to Facebook.

"Because deletion is irreversible, this allows people who mistakenly submitted a request to let us know so we can cancel it," the Facebook spokesman told ABCNews.com.

Just before posting I conducted an updated search on "how to quit facebook?" and "how do I delete my Facebook account?" and the combined numbers had risen in one day's time to a combined total of 61 million, or 15% or Facebook's 400 million user-base.

Moses Leaving FacebookMoses Leaving FacebookAgain, all these postings don't necessarily represent individuals who are following through in 'exiting' Facebook, but based on this number of searches growing two-fold in less than 24 hours - it is a definite red flag for Zuckerberg to rethink his plans for the future.  And rethink quickly - before the "Exodus" scales even higher in the days and weeks ahead. While I do believe that our definition of privacy is evolving as I have written in previous blogs, I also believe that as "social" as Zuckerberg and Facebook claim to be, in this particular instance, I think their decision-making was based on the 'wisdom of the few' versus any deep seeded interest in obtaining consensus from the crowds.