What does a Facebook account have in common with Freddie Krueger and the Terminator? No matter how often you kill them, they keep on coming back. Perhaps a more apt comparison is the Hotel California, you can check out, but you can never leave. Facebook hates the idea that anyone might want to stop sharing.
However, if you decide that the social networking behemoth really isn’t for you, there are ways to permanently delete an account. Of course, with Facebook’s controls and data retention policies rearranging themselves like sand dunes in the Sahara, there’s no guarantee that any method will work past this week…
Do remember to download and back up any photos or other information you want to save before deleting your account.
First of all, try a temporary deactivation. This is not a deletion. You may have invested considerable time and effort in building a Facebook profile. If you’re not totally sure that you want to permanently remove all that information, you can temporarily deactivate your Facebook account.See Deactivating, Deleting, and Memorializing Accounts.
- Log into Facebook. From the top right corner of your home page, next to your profile name, click the down arrow to open the menu and select “Account Settings.”
- On the left side of screen, select “Security,” and scroll down the options to select “Deactivate account”.
- Facebook will pop a page asking, “Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?” whilst displaying your friends profile pictures, enticing you to stay.
- Select a box from the “explain further” list.
- Check the box for “Email opt out.” in order to stop future email notifications from Facebook; else your friends can still invite you to events, tag you in photos or ask you to join groups.
- Select the “deactivate” button. Your account will now be hidden from other viewers on Facebook, but can be re-activated at any time.
- Select the confirmation button.
Visit the account deletion page. This will warn you this is a permanent deletion, that your account cannot be reactivated and that none of the content or information you have added can be retrieved. See How do I permanently delete my account?
- Select “Submit.”
- Complete the form, entering your password, email, and Captcha code.
- Be sure not to log in for 14 days, otherwise Facebook assumes you’ve changed our mind and the account will magically reawaken. Leave it for 14 days and the account will be deleted.
Delete by Email Request
If that seems like too much of a faff, you Email Facebook directly.
- Contact email@example.com and request that Facebook deletes your account.
- You will need to wait a few days for an email reply from Facebook confirming that your account has been permanently deleted.
- Facebook can be a black hole. If you don’t get a reply within a week, email them again at firstname.lastname@example.org, but also copy in email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, somebody ought to pick it up.
- Wait for a reply confirming the deletion.
- Once you get an email response from Facebook, wait for 14 days for the deletion to take effect, then try to log in to your account.
- If you’re unable to log in and don’t get a message asking you to reactivate your account, the Facebook account has been deleted.
When Delete Means Hide
It seems that Facebook hates the idea of deleting anything so much, that vast quantities of ‘deleted’ data still lurk in the servers like Tolkien’s Dead Men of Dunharrow. Supposedly this retention policy is provisioned for US Homeland Security and even though it may never again be seen in public, the authorities can ask for this information. Remember also, that the Internet seldom forgets anything; Facebook can be scraped, indexed and copied in a variety of ways, so the original source account may not contain the only copy of data you want to delete. AJS