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Steve Wozniak explains why he deactivated his Facebook account

As his 5,000 Facebook friends are about to find out, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has well and truly left the building.

As his 5,000 Facebook friends are about to find out, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has well and truly left the building.
When it comes to Facebook, most celebrities tip-toe out the back door without saying much. But Wozniak is not most celebrities, and sent an email explaining the recent decision to deactivate his account to USA Today.
Given the recent fuss about Facebook’s privacy behaviour, most of it is not hard to second guess:

Users provide every detail of their life to Facebook and… Facebook makes a lot of advertising money off this. The profits are all based on the user’s info, but the users get none of the profits back.

Which had become a thinly-gilded cage:

I was surprised to see how many categories for ads and how many advertisers I had to get rid of, one at a time. I did not feel that this is what people want done to them. Ads and spam are bad things these days and there are no controls over them. Or transparency.

This compared unfavourably with another big tech company close to Wozniak’s heart:

Apple makes its money off of good products, not off of you. As they say, with Facebook, you are the product.

This echoes criticism of Facebook by Apple’s CEO Tim Cook who told reporters a few days ago that his company could do what Facebook does it if wanted to. However:

We’ve elected not to do that… We’re not going to traffic in your personal life. Privacy to us is a human right, a civil liberty.

It’s not clear how many Facebook users have left since the Cambridge Analytica scandal became public on 16 March, although #deletefacebook gained considerable traction, trending on Twitter in the following days.

Ironically, the first tech figure to endorse #deletefacebook was WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who recently quit the company he sold to Facebook in 2014.
That high-profile desertion was noticed by Tesla and SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk who offered this dead-pan response:

When it was quickly pointed out to Musk that both of his companies had Facebook pages, he had them deactivated.
Wozniak, meanwhile, told USA Today that he wouldn’t miss his 5,000 Facebook friends because he didn’t think he knew many of them to start with.
And there was one final anti-climactic twist – he would only deactivate his account, not fully delete it.
The reason he gave was that removing himself from Facebook forever would have meant giving up his “stevewoz” screen name, which someone else would have been free to use.
So Facebook still has Wozniak’s data, just as it still has yours if you’ve only deactivated your account (or if you’re still an active member).
If you want to fully delete your own Facebook account, or just want to swot up on app settings, read our article on how to protect your Facebook data.


I agree with most of what Steve says, and I certainly don’t agree with Facebook’s lack of transparency, but the idea that Facebook is bad because it advertises to people based on the information they’ve shared with the platform and that they don’t share some of that revenue back to the individual users is a bit much. At the end of the day, you chose to sign up and use their service for free (which is a for profit business with operating costs), so people need to recognize that last key part of what was said in the article above: you are the product. A large majority won’t care, I’d guess. For the rest, delete your accounts!


I don’t think the issue was “there are ads”, but rather “Advertising has such fine grained control that Facebok clearly has a lot of information on people and we don’t really know what else they are doing with it”.


Agreed. That’s the transparency piece in my mind. They need to do a much better job at that! I’d wager most tech companies these days should provide a “human readable” summary of their ToS with the detail behind it vs. forcing people to read the legalese.
It’s hard to hate on FB because of the ad targeting (although again, this was to an extreme degree that I certainly do not support), because that’s their way of differentiating themselves in the market and attracting advertisers/charging more for the service.
The unfortunate thing is that they have a 30yo CEO running a multibillion dollar company who seems to not know what’s socially/morally appropriate and what obviously isn’t.


Too right Steve! You’re the product AND a target for…. who knows what. Can we ‘trust’ FB to actually delete the data when we request them to – one can only hope – can it be proved?.
I don’t see any value in keeping the username. After all, it’s only unique on the FB platform. My domain name is under my control, as much as it can be and this is where I focus any social activity (Emails/Website), rather than the platforms that have grown out of proportion (as well as their T’s & C’s).
Literally years of me trying to educate friends and family about the value of their personal data… with all this going on, I think it’s becoming more clear to them now. And I’ll shut up! :D


Mine is deleted as of two weeks ago. I won’t be back. In my view Facebook was always a bit dodgy and the CA issue confirmed the worst. I know nothing is free but the potential issues caused by their revenue process outweighs the benefits.


Remember Myspace? I didn’t join then and never joined FB.Why would anyone voluntarily give up their privacy?


Same sort of reason people voluntarily agree to offer an opinion to TV reporters when stopped in the street and asked, I guess.
Because they’re sociable and don’t mind sharing at least some details about themselves… being extroverted is not exactly a character flaw, and IMO it is possible to use Facebook without giving away your whole life story (and without being routinely manipulated by so-called “fake news”).


Isn’t the claim in the intro that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has “well and truly left the building” a bit OTT? He’s deactivated his account, no more. I’d accept your metaphor if he’d actually deleted it, but for a mere deactivation?


Fortunately my paranoid/conspiracy/ security conches mind set- prevented my from enabling apps/games/surveys on FB. After checking, “supposedly” my data wasn’t used.
FB may be going through growing pains, but Steve shouldn’t be one to talk as they won’t allow things like a keyboard with keys that let you move the cursor around (for editing a URL, or taking notes) Apple is more like a dictator. They choose for you, like it or not.


Who in their right mind would want a Facebook account anyway? Together with Google they must be the two most evil entities on the planet.


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