Happy Quit Facebook Day! Now what?

So you say you've decided to quit Facebook? Good luck with that -- your alternatives aren't pretty

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Yes, today is the day we honor the sacrifices of the men and women who have served our country, which apparently also includes the ritualistic drinking of malt beverages and burning of meat.

But today is also something else. It's Quit Facebook Day -- an arbitrarily chosen "holiday" where millions thousands a handful of ticked-off Facebook users throw a public tantrum and leave the social network in protest over its shameless appropriation of the data they voluntarily handed it.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Cringley isn't entirely convinced that Facebook is truly sorry for its privacy sins | Stay up to date on all Robert X. Cringely's observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

Now, I do think these ticked-off users have a point. Facebook started out promising pretty strict privacy protection, far moreso than MySpace, Friendster, Six Apart, or any of the other nascent social networks of that era. Gradually, though, it's gotten faster and looser with people's data -- kind of like a nun who's decided to renounce her vows and gets a job pole dancing. And then you find out she has body piercings and tattoos.

(Get thee to a nunnery, indeed. But first you might want to stock up on dollar bills.)

I can understand why people are upset and want to leave. But after May 31 was picked as the day to give Facebook the middle finger, Mark "Baby Face" Zuckerberg issued a mea culpa (of sorts) and announced changes to Facebook's privacy controls. These will probably assuage some of those who might have left, while ticking others off even more.

A recent poll has suggested that 60 percent of Facebook users might quit over privacy concerns. Other polls suggests 60 percent of people will answer yes to anything if they think a) that's what pollsters want to hear, and b) you might give them a cookie.

As I write this, some 23,396 people have committed to quitting Facebook on the We're Quitting Facebook page. Given that there are now an estimated 500 million registered Facebook users, that amounts to roughly 0.000000000000000000000000000000234 percent. (I may be off by a few zeros -- I kinda lost track.)

Over the last minute, more people than that just quit smoking. And half of them did it by dying.

But let's say that, like Newsweek's Steve Tuttle or BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow or TV tech pundit Leo LaPorte [video], you decide to quit Facebook. Where, exactly, do you go?

You can't move over to Diaspora, since that's mostly still just a concept cooked up by four NYC undergrads and won't be ready for prime time (if at all) until after they're, like, done partying over the summer, dude.

So your options are pretty limited. I'm going assume you're already on Twitter and LinkedIn, which don't really qualify as Facebook alternates in any case. So here are the top five, in my humble opinion.

MySpace. A perfectly fine choice if you're an up-and-coming garage band, a 14-year-old with minimal parental supervision, or one of those nuns-turned-strippers. For everyone else, not so much.

Ning. You can create your own social network that consists of just you and your friends -- a sad, pathetic little social network, but all yours just the same. And after you do, you can play God with other people's data. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Orkut. Faz qualquer um fora do uso de Brasil realmente este friggin' coisa? If you don't understand what I just wrote, then you shouldn't use Google's attempt to mimic Facebook, which is really big in Brazil but kinda nonexistent elsewhere.

Bebo. First, answer this quiz. Do you know who Justin Bieber is? Now name the Jonas Brothers' latest album. You say you've never heard of Justin or Jonas? OMG, you are waaaay too lame for Bebo. Luzer.

Classmates. Hey, your old high school sweetheart has been looking for you. Seriously. Would they lie to you? Actually, yes, they would, if it convinced you to pony up $40 a year for a subscription. Because the only way your old flame is on Classmates.com is if he or she got suckered too.

There are, of course, 3,247 other social networks at last count, but most of those won't be around for very long. Choose wisely -- the last thing you want is to have to come slinking back to Facebook with your tail between your legs.

Now go out there and burn some meat. It's your patriotic duty, dammit.

How are you spending this fine day (besides reading my blog and quitting Facebook)? Post your news below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This story, "Happy Quit Facebook Day! Now what?" was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog.