Facebook's biggest problem is that I can stop using it — and be just fine

  • Facebook's data-sharing issues may prompt people to #deleteFacebook, but the company's larger issue could be that the core product is no longer so important.
  • Winding down usage of Facebook may be just as effective as deleting it, and you don't need to lose your photos.
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., listens during a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., listens during a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.

I'm not deleting Facebook. But I'm content not using it as much in the future, and that's the company's bigger problem.

Facebook needs oxygen to grow. When users engage with their friends, they give advertisers the eyeballs they so covet. And because Facebook offers so much targeting data with such a massive audience, brands just keep increasing their spending.

It not just advertisers using that data. According to the latest New York Times expose on Facebook's data-sharing practices, "more than 150 companies — most of them tech businesses" benefited from improperly shared information. Spotify and Amazon were among the beneficiaries.

Like many others, I've lost trust in Facebook. But I have more than 14 years of photos and videos on the site. It's become my storage vault for those cherished family events. I'm not going to burn my virtual photo album because of some unsavory data sharing. The reality is I don't much need the app for future activities. Google Photos and iPhoto can suffice, even though I may miss the nice comments and occasional emoji. The Facebook marketplace is occasionally useful, but I'm not buying and selling used stuff that often.

I don't have to cancel my Facebook account altogether for the company to feel the pain. I never shut down my Friendster or MySpace accounts — my friends and I just stopped using them.

So far, Facebook's user numbers and engagement levels have consistently grown, quarter after quarter, allowing the company to see past its many deficiencies. Reversing this trend should force the company into action. If you want to send a message, that should do it. Investors are clearly worried, pushing the stock down 5 percent on Wednesday and 22 percent this year.

Facebook isn't the only internet company that concerns me. I don't like the idea of Google tracking all my whereabouts or Amazon knowing everything I purchase along with all the music I like and when I'm low on toilet paper. But #deleteFacebook is a lot easier than #deleteGoogle or #deleteAmazon (and, again, you don't actually have to delete — just slow down).

Am I willing to quit using Amazon altogether? Nope. It's too much of a life benefit. Am I willing to stop using Google's search? Of course not. I want to find stuff quickly and accurately. I'm not sure what it would even mean to #deleteApple or #deleteMicrosoft. I can't #deleteTwitter. I like it way too much.

Facebook is one I'm willing to take a stand on because its core product doesn't satisfy my demands. Getting off of it might even make me happier, according to a recent column from my colleague Chrissy Farr.

And that may be Facebook's biggest problem for 2019 and beyond. If the number of users finally starts falling, the company's privacy issues will be the catalyst. But the core issue is deeper: Facebook may no longer be that central to people's lives.

WATCH: Chrissy Farr's social media detox