Deleting Your Facebook Profile Isn't So Easy

from the they're-saving-it-for-when-you-realize-what-a-huge-mistake-you-made dept

On Friday, we jokingly noted that Bill Gates was erasing his Facebook profile. However, the NY Times is now reporting on just how difficult it actually is to erase your profile on the site. Basically, you can "deactivate" it, but it still exists and can be found by users of the service. Of course, some might argue that it's rather silly to try to delete anything once you've put it online, and that counts for social networking profiles as well as other content.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Swiss Cheese Monster, Feb 11th, 2008 @ 5:42pm

    I have known a couple of people have have removed their profiles from Facebook. One just last month. It was removed without a trace.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Jim Durbin, Feb 11th, 2008 @ 5:47pm

    Removing Your Facebook profile is easy

    You just have to do something the don't like. There have been several people "disappeared" without adequate explanation.

    Robert Scoble is a perfect example.

    Here's what you do

    1) Spam a bunch of Facebook accounts.
    2) Send out notes explicitly stating you are being paid by companies separately to write positive reviews of their product
    3) Photoshop crude images of Zuckerberg and put them on your wall
    4) Upload your entire e-mail contact list into Facebook using their contact upload list. If you have a 1000 names or more, they will probably delete you.

    Writing things about them on your blog won't get you anywhere. You're going have to take action if you really want to disappear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Bob, Feb 11th, 2008 @ 6:54pm

    Re: Removing Your Facebook profile is easy

    Just don't have one to begin with. Thats what I have done for many years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2008 @ 8:45pm

    Re: Removing Your Facebook profile is easy

    Well, I know someone who got "removed" for spamming (and not stopping after the first warning), however, he appealed with a valid reason for his "spamming," and his old facebook returned.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Dave, Feb 11th, 2008 @ 8:48pm

    I like Jim's idea

    My wife got fed up by Facebook recently, no surprise, and she bailed. But I do believe that, as the article states, you can't actually delete yourself completely.

    I went though my profile with a fine-tooth comb and did my best to make my profile as uncompromised as I could, but it was a fairly tricky interface, and even as a nerd, I don't know if I covered all the bases. Of course, there's probably stuff you can't see in the profile that'll nail ya. I don't find myself going on there as much anymore, and I still may dump it.

    The people I like are the ones who appear in their underwear or less, with the "F me" expression, and then they are shocked, shocked, when they can't get a job for some reason, or their parents, teachers, and all their peers (oh, let's not forget stalkers) see them and make comments or worse.

    Maybe Jim's idea will work!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    lucy, Feb 11th, 2008 @ 9:03pm

    I dont think thats right you should be able to erase any profile with no difficulties now that is gona make people no t want to get a facebook

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Superfreak, Esq., Feb 11th, 2008 @ 9:19pm

    They removed me

    Without my spamming or anything, all I did was use a fake last name. I had tons of contacts and activity and a profile full of picts and movie, food reviews.
    All gone now, and I'm not returning.

    But if you find this name in there, let me know!;
    Hugh Superfreak.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    The Swiss Cheese Monster, Feb 11th, 2008 @ 11:56pm

    Re: They removed me

    I don't see you on Facebook, however there are still a bunch of people using the name Superfreak in some way shape or form. Most of them seem to be using it as a middle name.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Feb 12th, 2008 @ 12:49am

    Still exist? Yes. Still Visible? No.

    When you deactivate a Facebook profile, it certainly still exists on their servers. But try telling Robert Scoble that you can still be found.

    I've had my account deactivated once for angering the spam filter, sending messages to alumni from my high school about upcoming events. My sister has had a run in with the spam filter as well.

    When your account is deactivated, you disappear without a trace. It's like you never existed. It's more reminiscent of an encounter with the secret service in a Hollywood movie than Hotel California (as suggested in the article).

    The data retention policies are still a privacy issue, yes, but I'd bet money that Mr. Das just couldn't figure out how to deactivate his account. I'd advise him to spend a bit more time on his technical education and a bit less time "threatening legal action."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Mrrar, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 5:19am

    Uh.. Yeah? RDBS?

    Relational Database Systems .. you know.. work that way.

    Data can't be deleted without causing a huge ruckus. It just gets flagged as not-visible.

    That's just how the technology works.

    ::shrug:: it's really not a big deal. I hate the scare tactics media uses to imply that it's some big conspiracy or some crap like that-- I'm surprised Tech Dirt didn't point out the obvious like it normally does (to its credit).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    HelveticaBlitz, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 10:04am

    Do any of you know if Facebook retains the rights to your content (ie photos, videos) after you've erased them from your profile? (I assume they still live on the Fcbk servers.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Blaise Alleyne (profile), Feb 12th, 2008 @ 11:30am


    lol "fcbk" - seems like unfortunate abbreviation, like... fsck or something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Danny Mack, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 2:03pm

    They aint the only one....

    I just went through the same w/ with them was trying to get the emails from stopping. I lost my user/pass, so could not edit my settings. I thought I accomplished it once, but then started to get the emails again months later. Unable to change the settings again and nearly impossible to find a service email, i eventually did. Tha sage continued w/auto gen responses that couldn't help and so on. After many days and many exchanges, I think I got it to stop....but my point is -> this is NO accident!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Kevin W, Feb 12th, 2008 @ 11:10pm

    Re: Uh.. Yeah? RDBS?

    Spoken by someone that has no idea how a database works

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Mrrar, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 4:37am

    Re: Re: Uh.. Yeah? RDBS?

    Sure do. You never delete a row. The best you can do is put in null values.

    The data itself can never really be deleted. again, i shrug. They'd have to find every piece of data in every table with every row that's associated with that Facebook profile and Null out every single value. It's not as simple as "Delete row! yay!"

    It actually takes a significant amount of effort to delete something.

    It's far better to just set a "Not Visible" Flag.

    But, if you disagree, please be willing to explain why.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Bill B, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 4:50am

    Actually deleting most web content isn't easy

    Actually deleting most web content isn't easy and a large percentage of it can be accessed even a decade later. If you go to sites like (the waybackmachine) you can search there archive and view a large number domains website content. I found that there are some instances where the archive did not crawl some pages or they have not fully integrated them into the database. Even in many cases images were also archived. I did try to look at myspace and get a message that "We're sorry, access to has been blocked by the site owner via robots.txt"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    KevinW, Feb 13th, 2008 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Uh.. Yeah? RDBS?

    Almost 20 years experience designing and maintaining large relational databases says why.

    Believing that any database worth mentioning, by which I don't mean M$ Access, actually fails to release space for deleted data is absurd. Believing that it is difficult to "find every piece of related data" in a relational database proves that you have no idea what a relational database is, or at least how to design one. In a properly designed database you can delete every piece of related data with just a few simple queries. A database to manage a site like Facebook would have, or at least could have, a surprisingly simple design with fewer tables then you might expect, perhaps only a couple dozen.

    Finally, if you believe that any database management plan for a large database would leave data that is no longer needed or wanted for archival reasons laying around is ridiculous. I've worked on DB's where the indexes alone were too big to load into memory. On a DB this size you delete all unwanted data and recover unused space whenever possible to optimize performance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    erik, Feb 15th, 2008 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Removing Your Facebook profile is easy

    what possible reason could be valid enough to spam?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    rendom, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 6:53am

    megaupoad downloading

    One of the best Megaupload searchers and download centers is I have downloaded lots of files out of there- you can do it to!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Advertisement - Amazon Prime Music
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.