I recently signed up for an online course that came with a private Facebook group. I was not thrilled about it being on Facebook, but given that I wanted to get the most out of the class begrudgingly created an account and joined the group. A few weeks after that I started hearing about other private Facebook groups for podcasts or books I really liked and joined them as well.

I’m surprised and impressed with the quality and level of interactions in these groups. If you know me at all you know I don’t care for Facebook and have never had a presence there. Facebook is just one more place to maintain my online presence run by a company I just don’t trust when it comes to having the best interests of their users at heart.

I continually get the impressions that Facebook (the company) is all about making sure they get more from the platform than the users, including their approach to privacy. It’s possible I’ve read it all wrong, but I’ve been extremely turned off in the past by what I’ve heard about Facebook’s approach to user privacy–creating a gauntlet of and hard to find settings and default settings that leave new users wide open to sharing everything.

I get that social networks are not necessarily about privacy, people are on them after all to share things publicly. I think, however, that there’s no good reason to set such liberal default open privacy settings. With all this in mind (and perhaps fears based on out-dated information) I setup a Facebook account with a unique email address (to see how it gets tracked or used, and also to break the chain between my Facebook email address and other social networks).

I realize there are other ways to draw associations with my other networks using ip address lookup, cookies, etc. so it was also an experiment. Once I had my account created I also set the privacy settings as I high as I could… is it working? Who knows. I was surprised that within a week, two people I had barely corresponded with over GMail suddenly wanted to be friends on Facebook.

My attitude about Facebook has changed slightly given the highly helpful and positive private groups I’ve joined. The interface and notifications process is smooth and beats the those classic online web forums that are so ugly and difficult to navigate.

So now that I’ve joined some of these groups and am meeting new and interesting people, I’d like to stay in contact with them. The problem is I don’t want to “friend” a bunch of people or be “friended “by others so I feel stuck. So far I don’t have any “friends” on Facebook, though I have received some “friend requests.” I really don’t want to have a new group of people to track and stay in touch with on Facebook. Is that short-sighted?

I’m already on three major social networks.

LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnpoelstra
Twitter — https://twitter.com/johnpoelstra
Google+ — https://plus.google.com/+JohnPoelstra

I like LinkedIn for keeping track of people connections and Twitter for general sharing and seeing what’s going on. I also like Google+, but am not as active there. So far I just haven’t seen the need for Facebook.

In my perfect world, I could have a Facebook page, wall, whatever, whereby someone could see the following:

  • My name and that I’m there
  • Other social networks I’m on
  • A short block of text encouraging people that want to connect with me to do so on one of the networks I’m already on, with links to those networks and a short block of text maybe explaining that I’m not maintaining connections on Facebook.
  • A simple way of contacting me

My two questions are:
1) How can I make the scenario I’ve proposed above work on Facebook or is it a bad idea?
2) What am I missing or should I reconsider about having a larger presence on Facebook and if so, why?

I haven’t been able to figure this out using the Google. Does anyone have good overall suggestions or an approach that works given my preferences?