You can check out any time you like...
May 7, 2010 6:19 PM   Subscribe

How do I completely, quickly and thoroughly delete my Facebook account with the least possible amount of hassle?

A couple of years ago I set up a Facebook account for myself to connect with my classmates at school and keep in touch with some friends. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems now like it was a bad idea. I don't want my relationships with my friends to be tracked and monetized any longer, and the increasingly cavalier attitude of Facebook towards its users' privacy unnerves me. Unfortunately, everything I've given a cursory read so far claims that Facebook is like the Hotel California - you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.

I'm really busy with work lately and I just want to quickly and quietly exit, but unless I'm missing something obvious, it doesn't appear like there's a way to easily delete your account like you can with Google. I don't want to do the stupid "deactivate" thing - I want my account to be gone forever. This would ideally prevent someone from being able to type my account number in the FB URL and still access my page after it's supposedly deleted.

So, how do I go about the whole process?

I should add that I have a relationship listed, and I really don't want to have to see it come up on the news feed like I've ended it and deal with a bunch of questions - obviously I'm not ending any relationships, but I don't want it to look like I do when I quit Facebook. Also, should I PM my friends and let them know I'm leaving to avoid suspicion that I 'defriended' them?

Can anybody with experience give me a walkthrough? It would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!
posted by Despondent_Monkey to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
my understanding is that once you "deactivate" your account, it can't be accessed by anyone... try it and see...
posted by HuronBob at 6:23 PM on May 7, 2010

Consumerist says this will work.
posted by JanetLand at 6:27 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]
posted by tresbizzare at 6:28 PM on May 7, 2010

But if you sign in again to facebook, it becomes reactivated automatically. This is what you want.
posted by deezil at 6:28 PM on May 7, 2010

Or what JanetLand wrote.
posted by tresbizzare at 6:29 PM on May 7, 2010

Deactivating is not deleting. As soon as you log back in, the profile is visible again.

This link explains how to delete the account "permanently".

When you follow those steps, your account will be deactivated for two weeks before it is gone "permanently". (They probably count on people logging back in during the two weeks.)

I put the word in quotations because Facebook likely retains your information, no matter what, but after two weeks, you won't be able to log in and no one will be able to see you. Your account is pretty much gone (except that Facebook probably has it all on their servers, but there's nothing that can be done about that.)

When I deleted my account, I untagged all photos, emptied out my profile, deleted private messages, changed my name and associated it to a junk email address. It may or may not have accomplished anything, but I felt better about it anyway.
posted by alligatorman at 6:29 PM on May 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

I would suggest actually filling your profile with nonsensical data, so that if Facebook does retain the data then it won't be accurate. And what everyone up there said.
posted by crapmatic at 6:34 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think I'd bother with the personal messages about it. It's hard to tell when someone un-friends you and who it was unless you keep a list of all your friends written down that you cross-reference obsessively. I guess if you're worried abut it, a status update mentioning it would avoid any mixup.
posted by cj_ at 6:48 PM on May 7, 2010

I just did the deactivation thing.

1. I sent a status update like "FACEBOOK SUXXX I'M OUTTA HERE" (paraphrasing) to let people know where I went.
2. I deleted all photos and information from my account. I did not defriend anyone.
3. I deactivated my account as explained in the links above.
4. Within the two week period I had a major life announcement to make and realized I had no other way of contacting most of the people on my list without making dozens of phone calls. So I caved and logged in again. Everything was exactly as I'd left it.

During the deactivation period I confirmed that my account could not be seen. I confirmed this through google searches, Facebook searches, and through viewing my husband's account (which used to be linked to mine via relationship status).
posted by desjardins at 6:55 PM on May 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

As to your question about relationships "ending": My husband's profile said "married to ____" with a link to my profile. After I left FB, it just said "Married." Nothing appeared on anyone's news feed.
posted by desjardins at 6:58 PM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I did the deactivation thing for awhile, and none of my friends noticed for a long time - it's not like it gets announced when you do it. And as others have said, nothing showed in searches or on friends' pages.

It sounds like the more permanent deletion would be even better for you, but be assured that even the less-permanent solutions worked pretty well.
posted by ldthomps at 7:02 PM on May 7, 2010

Facebook is, erm, a bit evasive on the whole issue of how to delete one's account, I find. WikiHow has some good non-biased instructions on several ways to do it.
posted by koeselitz at 7:31 PM on May 7, 2010
posted by clancy at 8:53 AM on May 8, 2010

I'm one week into the 2-week "full delete" process and I think alligatorman has it just right. Like desjardins, my spouse, who remains on FB, is apparently showing up to others as just being "married."
posted by cheapskatebay at 6:42 AM on May 10, 2010

This is a bit unorthodox, but if you delete all of your "real friends" from you contacts list, start playing farmville or mafia wars and then go to that game's forums and post your account to an "Add me for Mafia Wars" thread. Once you get a bunch of friends that way, start posting pornography on your account. (Good idea to delete as much personal info as possible, and change your name to a fake one). Make sure your privacy settings are all set to "only friends." I did this and they deleted my account after three days, there is no trace of it what-so-ever that I can find......
posted by peewinkle at 10:19 AM on May 23, 2010 [4 favorites]

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