Facebook account email delete: Not Enough

Following Maria Aspan's excellent article in the New York Times, Facebook has apparently softened their Draconian stance on not letting users leave Facebook. They went from making it impossible to delete your account to making it only slightly less cumbersome.

This is, of course, not nearly enough.

Facebook management doesn't want you to close your account. No other social network I've ever used has made it so difficult to leave. Even Rupert Murdoch's MySpace lets you completely shut down your account with a few clicks. The fact that Facebook doesn't want to give users this control over how their data is shared begs the question: What are they really using our personal data for?

They've already lied to us about "not being technically able to delete an account", since they've quickly deleted accounts that have violated their Terms of Service (porn, abuse, etc). They've given us the runaround over and over again about asking us to delete our content piecemeal, making us jump through hoops to regain control of content and personal information which belonged to us to begin with. They make zero effort to hide their links with several intelligence agencies and libertarian think-thanks.

Yet, users continue to flock to Facebook, because it's where their friends are. And we all know that your worth is directly proportional to how many friends you have on Facebook, how many wall writings you have, and how many invasive applications you install. Applications which give personal information such as your full name, religion, political views and hometown to any random developer who helped code it... and their friends.

Make no mistake, though: this is not about Facebook.

It's about setting a dangerous precedent on the internet about how easily we let corporations data-mine our private lives. By voluntarily giving up our personal information to Facebook and their cronies in such a structured manner, we're in essence building an "internet within the internet", controlled and monitored by Facebook.

So, I ask Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg and co.: Why don't you let users leave Facebook when they want to? Why are you so much more adamant about holding on to our data than any other social network? What, exactly, are you trying to hide?

Once you finally give users a way to close their accounts on their own - using a "delete my account" button, like every other social networking website in existence - we'll start feeling slightly less suspicious about you. Until then, expect to keep hearing from privacy advocates and disgruntled users. Expect to keep seeing well-written articles about your unfair business practices in the media. And expect complaints to keep rolling in.

Like all social networks that came before it, Facebook will come and go. It is at its peak right now, and will follow the paths of all the social networks that came before it: growth, rise, decline, acquisition by Google, Yahoo, or rich person, and finally, fading into irrelevance. After all the Facebooks have crumbled into dust, the open internet will still be around.

Finally, here's a cute logo that my friend Mir made for me. I especially like the angry dog.


Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
Incognito's picture

The easiest way I can think of is send a message to their customer service about changing your age because you put it in wrong. This constitutes misrepresentation and they will delete your account in less than a day.

Thursday, February 14th, 2008
Incognito's picture

"So, I ask Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg and co.: Why don't you let users leave Facebook when they want to? Why are you so much more adamant about holding on to our data than any other social network? What, exactly, are you trying to hide?"

Perhaps the rabbit hole of enlightenment you seek starts in the ashes of the Beacon program and winds its way down a data mine, far far away.

Think over this:

Perhaps it is not what you put in Facebook when you join that should worry you.

Perhaps it is what you do when you are using a computer that has been on Facebook.

Because you never leave.

Those digital footprints of your web usage make their way back to your FB account, deleted or not. So you are more than watched.

Please prove me wrong.


Friday, February 15th, 2008
stevenmansour's picture

Those digital footprints of your web usage make their way back to your FB account, deleted or not. So you are more than watched.

This computer has been on Facebook, and I'm fairly certain that they don't have access to the rest of my web usage.

Then again, I run Linux, so maybe Windows users have some sort of Facebook-malware that pings back to the mothership or something... though we really don't need to look that far to realize that Facebook privacy policy is a problem, do we? :)

How exactly is one expected to delete all wall postings as well?

They're not; that's the whole point: make the system so hard to leave that no one really ends up leaving.

Saturday, February 16th, 2008
Incognito's picture

Omg... I was not really watching to that Web 2.0 news, and in two days i kind of take a short tour. 1st day happyness, 2 paranoya.

Tv cameras in London made a huge scandal, humanity was always fearing "the system"... And now what??? WE ARE THEIR STATISTIC WORKERS! We write autobiographies, our likes, dislikes, what i think about global warming and goverment...

But for what purpose? Prevent crimes? We all saw YouTube video made by some guy, who made a massacre on a next day in a school. Or may be they don't care about something like this?

I still can't understand... If this is made for control, why this is so brilliant and mega total? How much money does Google have and from what? Advertising???

Saturday, March 15th, 2008
Mary's picture

I understand your frustration with having to delete your Facebook account. And it isn't right to have made you go through all those hoops. But why did you delete your YouTube and Flickr accounts? They provide such a service for the average person. I use those accounts when editing travel stories as a way for people to see
more, to hear more.

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
Hichago's picture


I'll be leaving fb in 30 days, I put a count down so that everyone I know understands that it is fb I am leaving and not them; Hopefully it will go less painfully than what you had to endure?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
stevenmansour's picture


That's a cool idea. Has anyone asked you yet why you are leaving?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
stevenmansour's picture

Hi Mary, you asked:

But why did you delete your YouTube and Flickr accounts? They provide such a service for the average person. I use those accounts when editing travel stories as a way for people to see more, to hear more.

I left Youtube and Flickr after they were taken over by Google and Yahoo, respectively - for much the same privacy reasons I left Facebook, but with the added push of shady content ownership stuff. I don't see why I should pay Flickr for the privilege of letting use my content to generate revenue. The service they provide by giving me a space to share photos is something I can - and do - accomplish far better here on my own space.

Granted, I'm not the "average person" on the web, and if you use youtube and flickr to give people more access to your work, then I think that's great! Just know that it's way cooler (and way more work) to do it yourself - without their help. :)

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
Incognito's picture

Even though they pretend to let you delete your account, the captcha program simply will not work and so you can never actually complete the deletion.


Friday, April 3rd, 2009
Ryan facebooker's picture

Also notice that even after you delete your facebook account, you can log back in easily using the same email and password you have been using. Bottom line is that your facebook account is never Completely deleted.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Incognito's picture

Yes but i hane deleted my account 2 weeks ago and facebook said that it deleted it . I want to create now a new account with the same e-mail but i think i can't.......i have read it that it is impossible !!!

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
Mike's picture

My account was compromised and the login credentials changed to deny me access. Meanwhile my account is being used to try and scam my friends from the site. It is sending out instant messages, and posting on friends walls telling them that I've been mugged in London and desperately need money to get home. I've been plagued non-stop from worried friends and family. I contacted facebook right away begging them to at least disable my account temporarily. For something like this I need instant action and I can't call them (I tried, they simply transfer you to a recording saying to get help online). So for now, these criminals are just going thru my entire friends list and trying to scam my friends and family one at a time -- and there's nothing I can do?!

Thursday, March 4th, 2010
daniela's picture

I say you bring this to channel 10 news or something like that.

Its a big big problem, for weeks ive been trying to delete it for security reasons and just a

waste of valuable time in life

Thursday, March 4th, 2010
daniela's picture

Plus My space was easy as to delete. You pressed delete they sent a confirmation email and wala. Someone needs to get into contact with reporters and take this to court. Its breaching into our privacy and should not take away our right whether our privacy/information should be used or not. Someone needs to look into this..............

Friday, April 16th, 2010
Incognito's picture

wow i cant believe theres someone else out there who hates facebook as much as i do

i refuse to sign up for facebook for many reasons, most of which i have read in the comments.

the main reason i never signed up for facebook however........

getting spammed by friends to "view" their profile on facebook, only to click a link that leads me to a blank page asking me to login with an account i do not have nor want.

i'm sorry but if you send me an email asking me to view your page, your page should be VIEWABLE!!!!!!!!!

but no.. they want you to provide all your personal information just to see your "friends" page which i already know is so full of crap apps and games and nonsense and all the things that smart people hate about the internet.

HELLO?!?!?!?!?!?! who the hell would agree to that?

how are there so many stupid people out there? facebook operates just like any other malware type program getting members to spam non-members for the purpose of collecting even more personal information.

i say NEVER!


Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
rusho's picture

great post really appreciatable work. That will be valuable to everyone who uses it, including myself. Many thanks!

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