Facebook is absolutely massive. If you don’t have an account with them, I’d currently recommend that you stay away. If you have an account, my advice at this point is that while it may not be worth removing your account, it is certainly worth limiting your exposure to the service.
Yes, I said exposure, as though it were some sort of bacterial infection. There’s a bunch of information on the Internet; the one that caught my eye in a big way was Dan Yoder’s Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook. The EFF also has a number of great articles related to Facebook on its Deeplink Blogs related to Social Networks. I highly encourage everyone visiting this page to dive deeper into these articles, and for those that come in the future.
Look, but don’t touch
My advice to those who aren’t already in Facebook is that it’s best to stay away. You’ve done alright by this point without it, and there are enough snags that it’s worth keeping away.
For those already in the system, I’m not sure that deleting your account makes all that much sense. In many ways there is a lot of concrete value in having a Facebook account, connected to your friends and family.
With that said, I do think it’s best to not put any more information into the system, and to remove what Likes you have left. Think of Facebook more as a read-only system, not as read-write.
In truth, there are countless reasonable alternatives to each of Facebook’s features, and you can rather easily find the same value outside. This may be the time to start a blog, a website, a Twitter feed, a flickr or Picasa account; or, sans all that, to just go back to email as a primary mode of communication.
There are countless other options where you can get out what you put in, without the same threats of privacy or lock-in. Don’t click on any of the Facebook ads, and if there are people whose content you really like, softly encourage them to put their efforts somewhere else.
I’m not particularly pushing Google, though their Data Liberation Front is a wonderful initiative which puts the power back towards the user. WordPress, additionally, makes it easy to export all your content in a couple of clicks. Twitter has an option of protecting your content from anyone beyond the list of those who you accept.
In the end, I think the solution is by a number of small movements. With my Facebook account, I may still “Like” someone’s status from time to time, though I’m done with Community Pages or Pages. I’m no longer letting Facebook import my data from Netflix or Twitter. I’m no longer going to use its messaging, instant messaging, status updates, notes, wall posts, etc. It’s up to you to decide where you want to go with all of these decisions, though I certainly do recommend less over time rather than more, in terms of any kinds of Facebook interactions.