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Escaping from Facebook: deactivating is not deleting

Tuesday, 20 March, 2018

Over at Wired, Gordon Gottsegen and Josie Colt offer advice on how to make the break. It isn’t easy, though, because deactivating is not the same as deleting:

If you’ve ever deactivated your account, you may have noticed that everything goes back to normal the next time you log in, as if nothing has happened. That’s because deactivating your Facebook account is not the same as deleting it. When you deactivate your account, you are just hiding your information from searches and your Facebook friends. Although nothing is visible on the site, your account information remains intact on Facebook’s servers, eagerly awaiting your return.

Even so, deactivating your account is still a complex process. Go into your settings and click General. At the bottom, you’ll find Manage your Account. From there, click on “Deactivate your account” and type in your password. Before you’re completely off the hook, Facebook shows you photos of all the “friends” you’ll miss (“Callie will miss you”, “Phoebe will miss you”, “Ben will miss you”) followed by a survey asking you to detail your reasons for leaving. Get through that, click Deactivate, and you’re good to go.

Now, to permanently delete your account, you’ll need to learn where the delete option resides. The easiest way to find it is by clicking the “Quick Help” icon in the top-right corner, then the “Search” icon. When you see the search field, type “delete account.” You’ll see a list of search results. Click on “How do I permanently delete my account?” and Facebook will give you the obscure instructions to “log into your account and let us know.” In this case, “let us know” is code for “delete my account,” so click on that link. From here, the final steps are clear: Enter your password and solve the security captcha, and your request to permanently delete your account is underway.

Yes, you read that right — it’s just a request. Facebook delays the deletion process for a few days after you submit your request, and will cancel your request if you log into your account during that time period.

Love that bit: “Facebook shows you photos of all the ‘friends’ you’ll miss (‘Callie will miss you’, ‘Phoebe will miss you’, ‘Ben will miss you’).” It’s hard to break up with Callie, Phoebe and Ben, but lots of people are thinking about it now.


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