A few years ago, in a fit of rebellious teenage rage, I joined facebook. I knew my parents didn't want me to have an account. I knew "all" my friends already did. I wanted to fit in.
Since then the idea of social networking has grown on me; I've come to know and love my facebook profile and it's not an easy decision to leave. What's triggered my decision to jump ship is simple: you won't give me my contact data back. I wanted some numbers to put on my phone and some gmail addresses. Your APIs wouldn't give them to me.
In my view, our relationship works like this: You give me a service, I give you screen time. In respect for this agreement, I spend the time to look over your advertisements. I click on ones that interest me. I've upheld my part of the bargain, and you've gotten paid for it. I would hope you're providing a service to me in exchange for this time: distributing the information on your servers so that other people I trust can find it and use it to contact me. I expect people to use this information to contact me outside of facebook as well as within it. It has come to my understanding that you feel differently about my user data. That's a big part of why I'm leaving.
I'm in the process of agglomerating all my data together, and I'd love to include all the info I've put into facebook, as well as what others have. This includes, for instance, most of the phone numbers of my close friends, which they've kept current. It includes birthday information, shared interests, and emails, much of which I can't get elsewhere. It's a treasure trove of data each and every piece of which ought to belong to the people who uploaded it. If you have reason to believe that it will be misused if downloaded by the people who can see it, you need to work on your privacy system.
I trust Google, and I don't trust you. Google's products work smoothly, and bugs tend to be quickly fixed. Your phonebook thinks there are 100 numbers between 1 and 99. Your chat continues to have graphical glitches on a semi-regular basis. I still don't know how the heck to retroactively manipulate lists after hours of clicking blue buttons. You've tweaked around with my privacy settings regularly, and, while Google has their screwup with Buzz, they seem a heck of a lot more sincere when they explain that they value user privacy.
Most of all, Google largely knows their place. They understand that, if I want to, I should be able to grab my stuff and leave. In contrast, you mess with your APIs to ensure I have to be tied to you. Google offers an austere "delete account" page. You jerk me around without restraint. You've lost my trust simply because you consistently send the message that you couldn't care less about your users, so long as they give you screen time.
This is my response: For the time being, I'm taking my ad revenue elsewhere.
P.S.: If anyone wants an invite to G+, leave a comment with an email address. Comments are moderated, and I'll stop emails from showing up publicly. I'll send you an invite as soon as I can. Right now, you can only sign up if [google thinks ;)] you're 18 or older. Google has stated that this will not be the case once G+ becomes fully public, which is close enough now that I'm willing to jump ship.