As I write this, I'm in the process of deleting tonnes of old posts and comments from my Facebook profile. This is not an easy task: Facebook loves data, and wants to keep as much of it as possible. So, of course, they've made it rather difficult to clean up; you essentially have to do it manually, on the Facebook website. This can be partially automated — I use iMacros, as suggested by ZDNET — but it's not perfect, and you still have to do bits manually or modify the macro to skip things. It's tedious.
Going through the mess that is my Facebook past, I was, naturally, intrigued by some of the things I spotted. Occasionally, I would have a look at the context of a strange comment I left somewhere. Then, I spotted one very worrying thing:
Facebook keeps around comments to posts that have been deleted.
That's right. Facebook loves data so much that they'll clutter up their databanks with information that nobody will ever see, ever.
A lot of people got rather upset about the introduction of Facebook's Timeline profiles. I, personally, find it liberating. Now, there is absolutely no doubt about how Facebook is “meant to work” (according to Facebook). Now, everybody knows: your Facebook profile is supposed to be a record of your entire life, and you're supposed to make sure it's complete.
Is that how I want to use Facebook? Certainly not! I don't even want there to be a record of my entire life, let alone let some American corporation with a questionable commitment to privacy manage it. No, I use Facebook to share impressions from my life and links from the internet with my friends and acquaintances. Maybe they'll see the things I post, maybe they'll enjoy them, maybe we'll have a spirited discussion in the comments. And maybe somebody will save a photo or link to their computer because they think it's worth keeping. But will they go digging in the archives? Probably not, these interactions are very much rooted in the now. Will they link to my insightful posts elsewhere? No they won't: they're (mostly) not public.
So, is it worth using Facebook? I would have to say yes, it is. I like seeing what other people share, and other people enjoy my posts (somebody I see very infrequently told me so in person just a few days ago). But is there any reason for old posts to hang around? No, there isn't.
Here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to make backups of photos I want to keep, but I'm going to delete all but the past few months of Facebook activity. I'm going to continue using Facebook just as profusely as I have been, regularly deleting old activity, but I'm going to keep copies of photos of and by me automatically using If This Then That. Ideally, I'd want to fully automate the deletion bit, but I know that, even if I do find a solution, it will mysteriously stop working quite soon, because Facebook loves my data, and wants to keep it.