Now, more than ever, I am being asked how to delete a Facebook account. It’s totally understandable given the massive amount of data that has been shared by and breached from the Facebook servers about our most personal information, including our political leanings, our buying behaviors, even the contents of our phone calls and text messages. Users are finally figuring out that their private information fuels Facebook’s profit model. Your data is Facebook’s inventory, to be traded and sold as they see fit. Deleting your Facebook account should be something that you spend a few minutes thinking about before you press the button. While you are doing a great deal to protect your privacy, there are consequences that you should think about.
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I was asked recently by someone, “How do I delete my Facebook account?” Why would anyone want to do that? Perhaps because Facebook has announced that they are making more changes to their data use policy. This time, they are trying a trick that they have tried before and simply by using their software, you are agreeing to it.
Here’s what it is. They can take any of your photos- say a profile photo or pictures of your kids, and when you “like” a product, they can advertise your photo next to that product. In essence, this means you are endorsing those things you have liked in an advertisement.
So imagine your teenage daughter has a giggly sleepover with friends. They’re on Facebook and they see a Bacardi ad and to be cool your daughter “likes” it and then she likes the movie Magic Mike (even though she hasn’t even seen it), but now her name and her photos are associated with those two likes and is shared across her entire network.
So, why do people want to delete their Facebook accounts? Maybe because they’re tired of giving their privacy away, they’re tired of the arrogance of Facebook obviously making these changes for commercial profit purposes and they try to sell it to us as if it’s for the greater good of the user.
There is so much of our information out there that is not under our control. But social networks such as Facebook are under our control, so people want to take back control of the little privacy they have.
Now, I don’t want you to go out and take an emotional response and just cancel your Facebook account. As you will see in this episode, there is a right way to delete your account, and a wrong way. Choose wisely. I want you to think about it and take four steps:
- Backup your data.
- Deactivate your account for a week or two first to see if you really want to live without it.
- Alert your friends if you do decide to permanently delete your account. The intention is to protect your privacy, not anger your friends!
- Delete your account.
(Watch the video to see exactly how to do all of these steps.)
How do I delete my Facebook account?
I get asked how to delete a Facebook account nearly every day; whether it’s at my speeches, by my clients, or by my friends and family. It used to be that people no longer wanted the mundane information overload that Facebook promotes. But now they are looking at it from a privacy perspective – they no longer want their thoughts, pictures, and videos shared indiscriminately with people they don’t know.
The defections have been sparked by Facebook’s continuing march to sell your private information (with only your implied consent, i.e., simply by using Facebook, you agree to their terms) with an ever widening circle of people who are NOT YOUR FRIENDS (advertisers, data miners, and unfortunately, identity thieves). Many of the corporations I speak for have me include a component on safe social networking because the information their employees are posting (personally or professionally) are damaging their corporate brand and profits either through data leakage or as a beach-head for social engineering and other types of fraud.
In past posts, I have pointed to the tools at your disposal to tighten down your Facebook security settings. But suddenly, that is no longer complete enough for people, as Facebook continues to erode what little privacy you can control. Just look at the privacy related Facebook news in the past few weeks:
- Today’s CNN Article about Facebook defection because of privacy concerns
- Facebook announces Open Graph, which shares your data with websites outside of Facebook to allow for more targeted advertising
- Security hole: Live chat messages and pending friend requests briefly available to ALL contacts forced Facebook to disable chat
So for those who actually want to take themselves off of Facebook (whether they want to delete their Facebook profile or simply deactivate it), let me give you the basics.
First of all, you need to know the difference between Deactivating and Deleting your Facebook account (I will walk you through the steps to do either). When you “deactivate” your account, Facebook merely suspends your account but retains all of your data in case you want to restore it at a later date (and in case they still want to sell it even though you are no longer active). When you “delete” your account, your information is permanently removed from Facebook (eventually) and cannot be restored if you change your mind. In other words, before you delete your account, make sure that you have original copies of any of the photos, videos, posts and contact lists in your profile. Once they are gone, they’re gone.
How To Deactivate Your Facebook Account:
Here are step-by-step instruction on how you can easily deactivate your account. Remember the difference between deactivation and deletion: deactivation is temporary so that you can reactivate your account if you wish to return to Facebook.
1. Log into your account and on the top right side select the padlock symbol (then “see more settings”) or the down arrow account symbol (and then “settings”). Either of these actions will lead you to the Security Settings page. When this screen pops up, click Security in the left-hand column.
2. At the bottom, you will see an option to Deactivate your account
Even after your account is “deactivated”, you can still be tagged in photos, invited to events, etc. Once again, you are still an active part of the social networking site, it’s just that you don’t get to use any of the tools available to active accounts (though Facebook continues to use your information). For a little additional privacy, be sure to “opt out” of emails at the bottom of the page if you don’t want to receive any communications.
3. The site will ask you to confirm your password as well as a “captcha” security word to confirm that you are a living, breathing defector and not a computer.
Remember, you can reactivate at any time by logging in with your email and password, although you must have access to your current login email address.
4. Following all of these steps, Facebook will send you an email confirmation entitled “You have deactivated your Facebook account”. Of course, the email gives you a way to reactivate your account – Facebook really wants you to stick around, as your information is what supports their bottom line.
If this doesn’t go far enough toward protecting your privacy…
How To Delete Your Facebook Account:
If you are certain that you won’t use Facebook again (at least with your current settings, posts, photos, videos, groups and pages) and would like your account deleted, please keep in mind that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added. If you would like your account permanently deleted with no option for recovery, follow these steps:
1. Log in to your account and then use this link to Permanently Delete Your Facebook Account (and regain some sense of privacy).
2. Click submit to continue, enter your password, complete the security check and click OK to make sure that you want to continue with Deletion.
3. You will then be taken to one final page to confirm permanent deletion of your Facebook account.
Pay close attention to the second sentence. If you log into your account again (even automatically on your iPhone or in your browser or through an affiliated site like Twitter or LinkedIn) your profile will be reactivated.
4. After completing this process you should receive an email with a subject similar to: “Account Scheduled for Deletion”. At this point, you still have the option to cancel the request. Facebook will try to guilt you into staying (e.g., they may say that Joe Friend (one of your contacts) will really miss you).
Deleting your Facebook account is a very personal decision, but it is your right to have these tools for controlling privacy at your fingertips.
John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.
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