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    USA Today: Some ditch social networks to reclaim time, privacy

    USA Today reports on a backlash against social-networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, from former users who want more privacy and free time. (For more on social-networking sites’ privacy policies, read a recent opinion column by Rohit Khare, the co-founder of Angstro, which has built social address book Knx.to. He says this has given him insight into the privacy policies of social networking sites. He writes about the substantial problems he has found in the policies of Facebook and other such sites.)

    Facebook reports that it has 400 million active users worldwide. Make that 399,999,999. Laura LeNoir is done.

    “I feel better, I feel lighter, I got my privacy back,” says LeNoir, 42, an office manager at an educational software company in Birmingham, Ala., who logged off a few weeks ago. […]

    As the social networking train gathers momentum, some riders are getting off.

    Their reasons run the gamut from being besieged by online “friends” who aren’t really friends to lingering concerns over where their messages and photos might materialize. If there’s a common theme to their exodus, it’s the nagging sense that a time-sucking habit was taking the “real” out of life.

    “When I first closed my Facebook account, I felt disconnected from the world and missed the constant updates,” says Leanna Fry, 32, of Provo, Utah, who is teaching English in Erzurum, Turkey. She signed off after feeling harassed by strangers. “But I’ve discovered I don’t have to know what hundreds of people are doing. Now I have more time for people who really matter in my life.”

    Even super-connected celebrities are bolting. Disney pop siren Miley Cyrus quit Twitter last fall, followed by British singer Lily Allen. […]

    That desire to unplug has made an unexpected success out of websites such as Web 2.0 Suicide Machine and Seppukoo (a play on the Japanese word for “suicide”), free sites that automate and turbocharge the otherwise laborious manual process of scrapping your online self. […]

    Facebook is not amused. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has blocked the servers of both sites and sent cease-and-desist letters stating that they violate Facebook’s statement of rights and responsibilities policies by collecting user login data. […]

    Even tens of thousands of dropouts represent a fallen leaf in the forest of social networkers happily updating their status/thoughts/whereabouts at this very moment.

    Facebook dominates that landscape, according to The Nielsen Co. It drew more than 110 million unique visitors in the USA in December, double its 2008 numbers. MySpace was second with nearly 60 million, a 17% drop from the previous year. Twitter pulled in nearly 20 million, and sites such as Classmates and LinkedIn had about 10 million.

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