Deleting Facebook accounts doesn't

Remember how Jason Calacanis ostentatiously deleted his Facebook profile, because Facebook doesn't respect its users or their privacy? Facebook didn't close his account down. Turns out that if third-party sites (like Twitter or YouTube) make updates to your profile within 14 days of the deletion, Facebook resets the process. How about that. [TechCrunch]


  1. Is there a way to delete the information by rewriting it? Maybe by changing your name and deleting your friends?

    Can you sue them to fully delete your information? Perhaps a class action lawsuit?

  2. To fully delete a facebook profile, I suggest to first sterilize the account by deleting all your personal information, apps and friends. Then you can goto the delete profile page (you have to google it to find it). As long as you don’t log in for 14 days it should work. The key is to remember to delete your apps, iphone app, and anything else that might try to log in for you in the meantime.

  3. I dunno how it works in the US, but over here we have the Data Protection Act.

    This act stipulates that an organisation must inform you (and provide copies) of the data they hold on request (that covers any data, including CCTV, everything); however if you’ve provided that information to said organisation there’s nothing to say that they have to remove it (although there are time restraints on how long they can keep the data).

    The problem here is psychology. People see facebook as something that they should be able to control … but that’s merely down to the format and interactivity; it’s in reality no different to providing your details to say, the post office. You’re in no more of a legal position to demand they remove this information than on facebook. Facebook isn’t owned by its users, its a company like any other.

    What I believe they’re not allowed to do is share that information without your consent. And due to the fact that they allow you to control privacy on everything they’re not actually doing anything wrong (legally anyway).

    If you don’t want a company to store information about you, don’t give it to them or provide consent for them to receive it. It’s quite simple really..

    That’s in the UK anyway.

    1. Here in the US, consumers have no legal influence over their data, except for some Freedom of Information Act rights specifically having to do with government. It’s a serious hassle to even try to correct bad information about ourselves.

      Companies that do business with Eupope and the US have to handle their European data much differently from how they handle their US data.

    2. Special Provisions Applicable to Users Outside the United States

      We strive to create a global community with consistent standards for everyone, but we also strive to respect local laws. The following provisions apply to users outside the United States:

      1. You consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States.

  4. Thank you for posting this! Many times you get tempted to connect your tweets and such to Facebook. I never did though, just one more thing to clog up the old updates.

    Since I just deleted my Facebook account I should be okay since I didn’t have any outside sites connected to it updating it.

    Thank you again.

  5. I opted to delete (not just deactivate) that thing a few months ago but am afraid clicking on anything remotely close to a facebook link, because they reactivate your account. It’s so annoying, I mean let me GTFO of your stupid social networking shit! I joined it in college when it was exclusive to people who had a .edu email address. Now it has become some huge social thing with everyone you know gaining the ability to know details of your private life.

  6. Just as the only truly secure computer is one that’s not plugged into a network or turned on, the only truly private place to put information is in your head.
    Online Privacy? Psfft. That’s an oxymoron.

    1. Remember: the only things worth doing are things you can do perfectly, and the only precautions worth taking are those that work 100% of the time. Right?

  7. This Facebook think is interesting. With today’s technology, it should be fairly easy to do things, particularly with social networking sites. Deactivate, delete, reactivate, profile privacy, etc. Confusion should not be a main factor. By the way, I think I will attempt to reactivate, open, or reset my Facebook account.

  8. Well, if they will never actually delete your account, you can always poison it. Spend a few moments re-writing your account with bogus information, to be sure there’s nothing in there that’s actually you. Make it clear to anyone that might somehow be linked to the account that you’re abandoning it, and then – in the words of Alton Brown – just walk away.

    I never felt bad giving bogus data to obvious spam gatherers or shady marketers, and I wouldn’t feel bad doing it to Facebook.

  9. Word on the street is that the only sure-fire way to get your account deleted is to post a penis as your profile picture, then have someone report you.

  10. a very similar post was made a few weeks ago about the inability to delete ones facebook account/the data therein. the reasons were different. the last post basically said no matter what facebook would retain the data.

    honestly, facebook deserves the attention and criticism it gets, all comments RE their data management are valid, but i am so tired of the media and geekdom acting as if they posses some intensely valuable, personal details about you. nothing they’ve got wasn’t originally given to them by YOU (the user of the account) and unless you’re insane the most personal detail they have about you is your email address and cell phone number. everyone and their mom already has most ppls emails (read: spam is too plentiful to identify the source) and at least I haven’t had any unwanted phone calls.

    most of these posts are about “poisoning” the data on your account. is thwarting marketers really so important to you? if you don’t go to facebook anymore, then you won’t see the targeted advertising directed at you based on your facebook profile anyways. if you deactivate/delete your account then your data just becomes a big blob of data that gets lumped into an even bigger blob from which marketing statistics are derived. considered it the price you pay for using widgets, talking to your friends, and posting megabytes of pictures for free. not one person has ever offered a plausible scenario in which any of this data mining actually hurts someone in a material way (financially for instance).

    there are so many serious privacy concerns on the internet and off. just cause facebook is widely used doesn’t make it more serious. if you do get burned by them, its cause you put yourself int he crosshairs by posting stuff you later regret posting.

    1. “not one person has ever offered a plausible scenario in which any of this data mining actually hurts someone in a material way (financially for instance).”

      Hear hear! The only examples I’ve heard of where someone suffered any kind of financial loss via FB is when someone else’s FB account gets hacked, the hacker posts a “I’m stuck in , please wire money to ” status message and the friends of the hacked account owner unwittingly wire some money to the hacker. And, even in that case, the use of FB was incidental to the crime; the same thing could (and does) happen with other social media. If you don’t want your personal information on the tubes, don’t put it there. It’s that easy.

  11. Deleting info doesn’t work. I deleted all my pages, interests, “connection” pages, school and employment info during the clusterf*ck unprivacy stage. Then when they changed things back, FB had all the old info I had deleted and was asking me to check off which ones I wanted on my profile.

  12. I’m going to start a Facebook group called “I Bet I Can Find 1,000,000 People Who Think Facebook is The Matrix.”

  13. I deleted my account by contacting Facebook and asking them to delete it (at the time, that’s what you had to do). I waited 14 days and did not visit Facebook at all during that time. I never connected Facebook to any other account. I am still receiving harassing email messages from Facebook that remind me that I can just log in with my old password and email address to rejuvenate my account. Funny how you can rejuvenate what was deleted, isn’t it? Funny how a company that has deleted my account continues to contact me. I think we should all sue Facebook. I did not agree to enslaved to Facebook for life when I joined.

  14. That doesn’t actually sound so nefarious. If the account is accessed, then it reactivates it. Protection against accidental or unintended deletion.

    I am not a fan of other sites updating my FB. I had a few do that for a bit but it just was irritating to me and to my readers.

  15. i deleted an account 5 months ago. i reentered my name and password, and instantly it was back up.

  16. How would facebook know how to connect your browser to your account unless you also forgot to delete the cookies?

    1. that is interesting, because i am constantly deleting cookies. i have been resetting my browser on a weekly basis since canceling my account. all i did was log back in last week, and all my stuff was back up.

  17. this isn’t “news”

    this was well publicized months ago, and people had made tutorials on exactly how to revoke oAuth and other privileges from 3rd party sites.

  18. This kind of thing really makes me glad that I have not made a facebook profile for myself!!

  19. Do what you will with your actual account, but the only real way to hurt facebook is to create believable bullshit accounts. If word gets out that some significant portion of users might be completely made up, every user becomes a lemon and Facebook’s ad partners stop paying them as much per user. Even if some accounts get ferreted out, there are enough pissed off people to make this a problem for a long time.

    Meh. Most facebookers are mouth breathing fucktards anyways. I hope someone builds an app game & takes a run at every single idiot who plays after letting the game get popular for a while.. Zynga did some nasty stuff but a couple clever malicious teenagers could really put Facebook down for the count.

  20. So…a Facebook account can come “back from the dead”.
    Like a Zombie?

    (But in this case, she is still there…)

    Or like the Republican Party?

  21. To the “it’s not news” crowd:
    BB isn’t a news site.

    To the “cry me a river, don’t like it don’t use it” crowd:
    FB is coming under fire for a lot of reasons, but one of them is their rewriting of the definition of “Delete.” It doesn’t mean erase the information after 2 weeks in the recycle bin, it means erase the information NOW. Look at all the hoops you have to jump through just to do it – and the auto reactivation scheme? FB creating more hooks/excuses to keep you in – Everything from iPhoto to Twitter integrates so openly with Facebook these days – that’s an awful lot of ground for a user to cover to ensure that FB isn’t magically reactivated. Is the eternal vigilance of your private life the price of online freedom? Maybe, but FB sure isn’t making anything easy on it’s users, things that should be simple as a single click (of course when money is involved, like single click shopping it’s always easily implemented for online companies)

    Of course no one pays for it – but FB reaps financial rewards from advertisers and companies hungry to mine its massive data stores – that data exists because legitimate users exist. So in a sense it is a parasitic relationship. But the “unmarked exit” to account deletion, while probably not illegal, is at the very least dishonest and immoral… esp. since when most users signed up in the first place the social network landscape looked very very different.

  22. 14 days is a lie. I deleted a profile a while back. It’s been well over a year and parts of it are still available. And I never linked to that profile with any other sites.

  23. Your account isn’t yours in Facebook’s eyes. When you understand that mindset, everything they do (and don’t do) makes perfect sense.

  24. I deleted or cut back ALL of the personal information on my Facebook account before deleting it. Interests, schools, work, favorite music, favorite movies, favorite books, everything was removed. I unfriended ALL of my contacts. I “deleted my Facebook account.” I have not been back there, and it has been three weeks. I don’t know what’s happening in Facebook, and I don’t care.

  25. I was on Facebook for a whole 3 hours total before I quit because of spam issues… that was a few years ago. Last winter my sister came to visit and went to go log in to her account on my old PC I hardly ever use. Well the cookies had saved my password and she auto logged into this 5 year old FB page and said “OMG I thought you didn’t have a page!” There is was EXACTLY as I had left it. I was shocked, appalled, and a little scared frankly! As if I needed any other reasons not to log in!

  26. My FB account is kept in its own tidy bubble due to the fact that I was never dumb enough to give them my real name. And I’m not too concerned that the world now knows I like Mozart and Nine Inch Nails. I would never put any information of true importance up there, just like any rational adult. The boobs with the drunken pics deserve to be embarassed for cyber-eternity.

  27. To the people who think average FB-using people don’t deserve their privacy because they’ve given their information away:

    For some reason, many BBers think that a lack of skill or intelligence means a person has no rights.

    Even if I’m a “mouth-breathing fucktard”—in fact, *especially* if I’m a mouth-breathing fucktard—there need to be laws in place that protect my privacy.

    Rights are not parceled out to the deserving. That’s “privilege.” You’re privileged to have more brains than most. Pity it doesn’t come with more compassion as a matter of course. You didn’t get brains because you deserved them; you just got lucky. Try not to be such a schmuck.

  28. Oh, and by the way: Mark Zuckerberg feels exactly the same about those “mouth-breathing fucktards” as you do. So you’re in great company. Maybe you should get a job at Facebook.

  29. You know, I never deleted my Friendster account. It’s still there, but I don’t think it’s doing them much good. If people just quit using facebook, do the zombie accounts present any kind of problem for ex-users?

  30. Facebook knows my real name (which I share with thousands of same named people), and a false DOB.

    It certainly does some fucked up annoying shit with cookies on other cites, but despite it knowing a lot about what I do, it has no real info on me.

    I think it’s a decent compromise to their blatant lack of ethics.

  31. I killed Google Chrome as my browser and returned to Firefox today. Reason? Chrome would not allow me to delete any references to Facebook on the browser in my bookmarks. It has been 20 days now since I killed my Facebook account. I have successfully resisted the urge to look and see if my account is really dead. In case it is still there, I unfriended everyone and either deleted or made bogus all of my personal information before killing the account. I really hate those people!

  32. I may have missed this in the comments thus far, but Here’s how I would attempt removing my information and presence from Facebook (I’m registered on Facebook, but do not use it, and in recent months have applied the narrowest possible privacy settings):
    1) Log in & systematically delete all deleteable information–text, photos, postings, friends, whatever.
    2) In the facebook privacy settings, apply the narrowest possible privacy setting for all items, i.e. “Only Me” or “Friends”.
    3) deauthorize all Facebook applications and prevent access to all personal data by applications (these are currently two separate sets of privacy choices).
    4) make sure to remove your profile from the Facebook profile search
    5) go to Facebook’s partner websites (Yelp, etc.) via the links in Facebook privacy settings and deauthorize their access to your information (I’m not sure if my step 3 covers this)
    6) only now should you go through the process of actually deleting your Facebook profile (not just “deactivating” it–make sure you go to the right page on the Facebook site)
    7) In all the web browsers you regularly use, make sure that all cookies and images are blocked from Facebook itself and its content distribution network: and (there may be others). This step may affect use of other sites, so you may want to experiment.
    8) Delete all automatic password filling for Facebook, so that there’s no way your Facebook profile can be called back from the dead (remember, even in the case of deleted accounts, facebook hold onto your remaining information for some period in an “undead” state, so that you can bring the ghoul, er, profile back to life if you reconsider the deletion).

  33. what the previous poster did is pretty much what i did just recently. not knowing that there was no such thing as delete (now i do, and i’ve done it) i simply unlinked all pages and friends that were really not relevant to me. i started out not so zealous but kept finding reasons to delete more things then finally discovered that all that was left was my best friend, my mother and my sister, and i thought to myself, ‘what’s the point of this’ and deactivated it. well, now i have deleted it. i just googled for my name (it’s pretty unique and turns up as number one hit on my facebook profile page on google) and facebook says the page doesn’t exist. i just tried logging in and it tells me the account is scheduled for deletion. so i guess i’ll make a note in my calendar to check up again in 15 days and in theory my login should result in ‘unknown user login’ or not. i hope it really does disappear because the whole concept behind facebook, namely ‘extreme transparency’ is a total violation of all laws of war and power well established and proven from thousands of years, and in fact the enforcement of diminished privacy is one of the reasons why totalitarian systems are so unstable. oh and why gun restriction laws increase gun crime, why drug prohibition increases drug crime, etc etc etc.

    bart kosko sums it up well in – i can’t remember which book it was, but he was talking about his work on ballistic missiles and basically says that the party who launches is at the leading edge of the technology, shooting missiles down, the defensive act, is always one step behind the methods of avoiding being shot down. think about the options, random paths, chaff, splitting into multiple independent swarming rockets, increasing the velocity of the missile, and so on. putting your information out there is only effective against enemies when it is disinformation intended to lure them into a trap. honeypot style. putting true or reasonably accurate information out there is like doing your enemy’s spying for them.

    and to all those commenting who think that the relative unimportance of someone makes it all a moot point, everyone has an identity, i don’t know what the numbers are but i’m pretty sure just an identity is worth several thousand dollars. and your fetish for something or other might be worth at least as much to scammers who can fleece you of money with that information, and so on and so forth. it’s not just about being hassled by the cia or some other nonsense.

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