So as I’ve publicly declared, I’ve decided to end my Facebook life, only to rise again, tabula rasa (easier than “Timeline scrubbing” as one of my students put it).  It’s not a step that I took lightly.  But it was certainly easier than going through five years of updates and media to figure out what I wanted Facebook to retain about me.  Here’s how I went about it:

(1) Create a new Facebook profile using a different e-mail address.  I used a different profile picture, and added a middle initial to distinguish this account from my still-existing older one.  I gave myself a birthdate that means something to me, and promptly hid it from view.  I shared no other information (hometown, schools, relationships, etc).  Here’s my new profile.

(2) Give my new account administrative privileges over any of my Facebook Pages and Groups.

(3) Warn my friends on my older account that I was going to make the jump and that they can friend me at the new account.

(4) Download my Facebook data from the old account for safekeeping (and for nostalgic reasons).  On the far right hand side of your screen, go to “Account Settings.”  It’ll open a “General Account Settings” page.  The last option is to “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”  It takes a while, and you’ll get an e-mail when it’s ready to save (as a .zip file, mine was nearly half a gigabyte).

(5) Open your new account for business.  I allowed folks to subscribe to me (which I didn’t do on my older profile).  I accepted all friend requests.

(6) I started populating the profile with content — posted here originally.

(7) In a few days, I’ll officially delete my original profile.  I believe that it’ll take Facebook 14 days to do so, just in case I change my mind!  Who knows how long they’ll hold on to that old data.  What’s more important is that I’ll no longer stress out about the information I’m posting to the new account.

I probably messed something up.  And who knows if this will make any difference at all?  But it makes me feel better as I try and take control of my online existence.  By the way, I had no qualms about losing the number of “friends” I had built up over the last five years.  I consider it a healthy social pruning.  And I’ve already got 20% of them back in less than 24 hours.  Besides, the primary metric should never be number of friends, but the quality of engagement (and maybe reach, determined by influence, content stickiness, etc).  To truly “reclaim my content” (as this person did), step #8 is to host this WordPress site via a third party and transfer it over to WordPress.org.  But that’ll take some elbow grease, and maybe $119 to a WordPress Happiness Engineer (with a title like that, does that person also have a Hello Kitty lunchbox?).

To conclude, as I’m trying to highlight “faces” on my own site as People in my neighborhood — and every post needs a featured image  (taken this time with a Leica 25mm 1.4) — here’s MCDM student Marina Ferrer Lopez.  I met with her this morning to discuss career opportunities.  She’s a Fulbright scholar from Spain who’d like to take advantage of her student visa to work an additional year in the USA now that she’s about to graduate.  She’s awesome, and as I do with all our students, I’ll help her as much as I can.  Even better, she’s taking advantage of her own robust network of MCDM colleagues to work the system for herself.

Marina Ferrer Lopez - MCDM student