Facebook’s had a bad week over concerns about how it treats user data. Ready to delete your account? It’s harder than you may think.
Deactivating and deleting your Facebook account are two very different things. What Facebook makes difficult to find out is deactivation is temporary, deletion is permanent. And unlike deactivation, you need Facebook’s help to permanently delete the information. (See the top 10 Facebook stories of 2009.)
The actual deactivation process is fairly simple. Once logged in, click on Account Settings, and select Deactivate Account at the bottom. But first, Facebook gives you a guilt trip in the form of an ad with Facebook friends and your memories together, suggesting they’ll miss you. If you can make it past that (you coldhearted person, you) be sure to click “Opt out of receiving emails from Facebook.” Otherwise your friends can still invite you to events, ask you to join groups, and even tag you in photos.
But deactivation is very different than deletion. Facebook keeps all your photos and information. It’s as if you’re invisible. The information is still there, and it’s still easily accessible to you (and Facebook) by just logging back in. Facebook wants you to have the power to deactivate, but makes permanently deleting your information quite difficult. To actually delete your account you must request Facebook to eliminate it, and you must navigate through five other pages to get to that point.
To delete, log in, scroll all the way down to the very bottom of the page and find the link to Help Center. Once there, click on Privacy Settings. Next, scroll halfway down the page to “Deactiviating, Deleting and Memorializing Accounts.” Next, click on “How do I permanently delete my account?” Read the explanation, and then click again on the word “here” which is hyperlinked in the text. It’ll generate a request for Facebook, who can take your information off the grid for good.
Why is deleting your Facebook profile so hard? Facebook doesn’t want you to really get rid of all your information. Because once it’s gone, you’re no longer one log-in away from coming back and sharing anew.