Tech Biggies Quit Facebook Over Privacy Flap: Will Others Follow?

Tech personalities delete Facebook accounts, more indicate curiosity online.

ByABC News
May 14, 2010, 11:25 AM

May 14, 2010— -- Are you thinking about quitting Facebook? If you are, you'll likely be in good company.

As concerns over Facebook's latest privacy changes grow among users, privacy advocates and federal lawmakers, some of the technology world's highest-profile figures have chosen to publicly announce their break-ups with Facebook.

On his Twitter account today, Cory Doctorow, an author and co-editor of the popular blog BoingBoing, tweeted that he had signed off from Facebook for good.

"Never made use of #Facebook, but #privacy awfulness from#Zuckerberg has prompted me to delete acct," he wrote.

Doctorow said that even his "latent, dormant" account encouraged others to participate in a site that he said "has shown such an enormous contempt for its users' privacy."

"By removing [myself], I thought that maybe I would in a small, incremental, personal way make Facebook slightly less enticing," he said. "I didn't want to be part of the problem. "Facebook has a recurring pattern of introducing incredibly draconian and terrible privacy policies. And then making peace by adopting a slightly less terrible policy."

In his widely-followed podcast Wednesday, tech pundit Leo Laporte expressed similar concerns while deleting his personal Facebook page on air.

Laporte said he was worried about a "power grab" by Facebook, as well as its "amoral" approach to privacy.

"I realize that there's a really insidious problem here," he said. "If I use Facebook at all, as a public persona or a private person, I'm coercing either my public or my friends to use Facebook, because the only way they can interact with me is by joining Facebook and participating. So in way… I'm coercing people I'm in relationship with to do something bad, to do something I know is fundamentally bad. I decided I do not want to be complicit in this, frankly."

Over the past couple of weeks, other tech luminaries to publicly declare their separation with Facebook include Peter Rojas, founder of the user-generated gadget site gdgt, and Matt Cutts, a well-known search engine guru at Google.

After Facebook confirmed that it held an "all hands" meeting Thursday afternoon, some tech bloggers thought it meant that the company was considering changing its privacy strategy.

But no changes have yet emerged and, in a statement, a Facebook spokesman said today: "We don't share specifics around internal meetings, but we had a productive discussion about the latest product announcements and how we can work on providing the best experiences for users and developers."

As Facebook continues to discuss, users are increasingly indicating curiosity about how to delete.