SK Babu


Why I kicked Facebook off my phone

A week or so ago, I updated the Facebook app on my phone. The very next day, it was back with a new update. I updated that too without comment. Around a week later, a new update weighing in at 240MB popped up.

As I was about to hit the update button again, I paused. What is it with these guys at Facebook? Do they think I am made of data?

Unlimited broadband plans (wifi) do exist in India. In reality, it gets throttled once you reach a certain limit. My previous plan with BSNL used to be 30GB a month, and once I crossed it, my 4mbps connection would be throttled to a snail-like speed of 256kps. Last year, I switched to ACT who gives 75GB a month at around 8mbps, and a post 75Gb speed of 512kpbs. But old habits die hard, and I still don’t like the idea of data hungry apps and app updates.

It’s not like other apps don’t have heavy updates. In fact, Apple’s own apps like Pages, come with much heavier updates. But it happens infrequently, maybe a couple of times a year, and is usually tied to major iOS updates.

So what’s going on?

I don’t know much about app updates. But I guess it works a lot like iOS updates. Small updates to patch bugs. Big ones for a complete app overhaul. That would be why many apps tend to have smaller updates. So what makes apps like facebook have complete overhauls of their app all the time?

Facebook claims every update improves speed and reliability. It could be true but it shows a lack of sensitivity to its users. It’s not like Facebook doesn’t know that data is an issue in India. In fact, they launched a special light version of Facebook for Android phones, called Facebook Lite just for India that’s only 1.8MB on my Android (Mi4i).

Why not a Facebook Lite app for iOS too? Do they believe iPhone users are less worried about data?

Is Facebook just being lazy?

Or is it being arrogant and assuming that users love Facebook so much that they won’t mind downloading it millions of times?

Or maybe it’s just good business. Making small updates may be more time consuming than just releasing the whole app. And as we all know, time is money, and Facebook wants to be the world’s first trillion dollar company.

In short, Facebook is not concerned about wasting my data, probably because I’m the one paying for it.

At this point, it struck me that maybe Facebook is right. Maybe the typical Facebook user is not the type who worries about a couple of a piddly hundred megabytes every week or two. This guy has bigger worries, and this newspaper clipping sent by a friend, gives a better idea of what they are.

It also perfectly captures why I’m not much of a Facebooker, and have yet to post a personal photo in my ten plus years on it. In fact, my Facebook profile pix is ten years old, and my phone number on Facebook is an old one.

Not that I was actually fooling Facebook. The sneaky guys had secretly linked up my Facebook account with my WhatsApp account, and pulled all the contacts from my phone onto Facebook, all the while pretending to be unaware of my current phone number.

So why am I on Facebook at all? Partly for Facebook Groups which are pretty useful in organising crusades against organisations who believe in the principle of divide and rule, and partly to check out stuff that goes viral.

That’s when my tubelight finally came on. It struck me that since I’m not a typical heavy Facebook user, I don’t really need the app. I can always check Facebook on my browser if need be, which is like once a week.

The app could go. No sooner said than done.

Sayonara, Facebook. Your 244MB updates will not be missed.

Update: Stéphane Tsacas pointed out that the actual download size of an update may be a lot less than what is listed. The explanation is here. To confirm, I downloaded the Facebook app and tracked the size of the download. The listed download size was 230MB while the actual download was 138 MB. (See below). It’s quite likely a similar result may appear for updates too. Assumption is indeed the mother of all… I apologise for misleading my readers.

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