How to Wean Yourself Off Facebook

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It seems like every week there's news that should make Facebook users think twice about using the world's biggest social media platform. From Facebook's misuse of customer data, privacy setting violations, and them maybe even helping sway the US election, consumer trust in Facebook's handling of data is at an all time low.

But Facebook has been a daily part of people's lives for more than a decade. The social network worked hard to become the go-to place for so many aspects of human life - and they succeeded. People use it for work. People use it communicate with family. People use it to keep up on the news.

So what should people who are feeling upset or even betrayed by the recent revelations about Facebook privacy violations do? Quit the network entirely? That's an option for some - in the last quarter of 2017, time spent on Facebook dropped by 5 percent. And the number of North American users went from 185 million to 184 million. And while a million people is nothing to sneeze at, it's still a drop in the bucket of total Facebook users.

For people who don't want to - or can't - quit Facebook entirely, it is possible to wean yourself off of the social network. Here are six tips for not only making sure that your time on Facebook is time well spent, but also that you're spending less time on Facebook in general.

1. Install Kill News Feed

If you find that you're scrolling mindlessly through News Feed, just because you're bored, try installing the Kill News Feed browser extension for Chrome.

Once the app is installed, when you open Facebook on your computer, you'll be able see everything that lives on the edges of the site - the chat bar, the pages you manage, events, groups - and you'll be able to post status updates. But in the space where you used to be able to scroll through friend's post, all you'll see is a blank. The app makes it much easier to utilize the useful parts of Facebook without getting sucked into the less useful parts.

Eliminating News Feed also means you're clicking on fewer links and interacting with fewer posts. That means that Facebook has less data about you to collect, store, and potentially misuses.

2. Take the app off your phone

Scrolling mindlessly also happens on our phones: when we're standing in line, lying in bed, going to the bathroom. Removing the app from your phone removes the temptation altogether. Does that mean you're going to have to find other things to do with that time you used to spend on the endless scroll? Yup. But we trust you can figure something out.

3. Create a really tricky password

If you can't totally remove the app from your phone - or you're looking for another way to limit access on your computer - make a really hard password so that you can't sign back in again. Store it in a safe place, like a password manager. If you don't install the password manager on your phone, you won't be able to access the password at those random times you want it. And even if you have one, that extra step to log on can be a good reminder of the fact that you're trying to stay away from Facebook.

4. Pick something else to do with your hands

Sometimes it's a good idea to replace one habit with another, healthier one. This isn't often talked about, but part of what engages with Facebook on our phones is the fact that we move our hands when we're using it. Humans like to keep our hands busy, so figure out a different way to keep them busy when you're bored.

Maybe it's a new hobby, like knitting or embroidery. Maybe it's something as simple as a fidget spinner. Maybe it's scrolling through the actual news instead of News Feed. Whatever it is, the only requirement is that it's keeping your hands and brain busy so you don't resort to the mindless scrolling.

5. Stop using Facebook to sign up for new services

When you choose the option to sign up for a new website, app, or service with your Facebook login, you're creating a chain of connected logins that are at risk if your Facebook password is ever stolen. You're also increasing Facebook's ability to track you across different parts of the web and making it harder to totally quit the social network if you ever decide to take that step. So just stop using that option. Take the extra 15 seconds to type in your contact information yourself and you'll be limiting one area where Facebook has access to your life.

6. Don't forget about other Facebook properties!

And don't forget that Facebook owns other sites and apps, too. Instagram and WhatsApp are both hugely popular - and owned by Facebook. So while you might feel righteous about quitting or cutting back on the mothership, this might be a good time to reassess your relationship with those other sites as well.

It might seem difficult, it's not impossible to wean yourself off of Facebook. And who knows? Maybe once you start reducing time on the site you'll find you're ready to give it up altogether. But either way, you can be sure that the social network will have less of your data and your time will be better spent.

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