Yesterday, I took the plunge and nuked my Facebook account. Or rather I took the first substantial step towards nuking it–the actual deletion apparently takes two weeks to process. But more on that in a minute.

I’d been on Facebook since the early days. Many of my friends were on it and it was an easy way to get in touch with classmates, as well as keep in touch with a few friends from high school. As its membership and presence online expanded, it just meant there were more people I could reconnect with. But the fact remains that I’m a terrible correspondent, with or without “social networking” software, and nice though many of these people are, if I have no compelling need to speak to them now or ever again, I won’t. Such is life.

And then there was the fact that Facebook became increasingly about wasting time in other ways. Don’t just talk to friends, but play stupid flash games! (I fell prey to those once or twice.) Take online quizzes! Fill out this marketing survey! Join this random cause! For every one useful, meaningful communication on Facebook, I’d be inundated with what amounted to little more than spam and chain letters. (At least I didn’t have it emailing me every time someone sent me something in a game or sim.) In something like six or seven years of having an account, it was useful in someway maybe half a dozen times. I almost never used it, tried usually to actively avoid it, and still got spam from it in my email.

But a few weeks back they did another one of their unannounced changes in privacy settings. A day or two later a coworker came up to me and complimented me on my taste in music, which Facebook had apparently gone and cribbed off a Pandora account I’d set up (and not used since) a few years ago. The coworker in question is a nice guy and someone I like, or this would have been decidedly creepier. As it was, I was not thrilled with this sort of initiative on the part of a piece of software, and started thinking about deleting the damn thing. This article clinched it, and was a bit of an eye-opener as well.

If anyone reading this is also planning to ditch Facebook, I recommend using the shortcut link, either in that article or this one. Apparently navigating the horrendous, purposely confusing interface to actually delete an account is a bear to deal with. With some reluctance they will allow you to deactivate an account, with relative ease, but that still leaves them with all your data, and everything will be set up and waiting for you if you ever log back in. Because that’s the Hotel California bit–“deactivating” your account doesn’t do squat to get rid of any information, it’s just sitting there waiting for you to return from your shopping excursion. Once they’ve got you in, they don’t ever want to let you out. It makes me suspicious what they’re doing in the two weeks it apparently takes to actually delete an account, once you manage to get past the smoke and mirrors and wade through that process.

So, Facebook is sleazy market research disguised as “fun.” Fine, simple enough, and if you don’t object to participating in that, then go ahead. Just make sure you review those privacy settings and check the TOS. As for me, I’ll take a walk.