With the increasing popularity of Facebook warnings have started to appear about the questionable practices of the site. Not only does it save all the information and other content you chose to share on the site: The company explicitly state that they reserve the right to use this information in any way it pleases. It also performs periodic datamining to find further information about all users and build a database on everything from personal attitudes to spending habits and social interactions. One can only hope this information will be used in a positive way (but that would be naive considering who is funding the Facebook project).
Ole Morten Knudsen of Norwegian techno blog Teknofil.no has tried deleting his profile off the insanely popular social networking site Facebook. That turned out to be harder than he could ever imagine.
It turns out simply deleting your profile doesn’t actually erase any information off the web. Facebook will retain all info you have uploaded until the end of time and there is nothing you can do to stop them. Bad news for all the people that have uploaded everything about themselves including personal info, hundreds of images and even political and religious views not to mention sexual orientation.
So what can you do when you no longer want your life to be an open book? Knudsen has put together a guide on how to make the information you so willingly provided on Facebook as hard to access as possible:
1. Make your information as unavailable as possible
In the top right hand corner under Privacy set all your Profile settings to either “Only Me” or “No one”. That way you become hidden in the network. Still present but invisible.
2. Remove all your friends and groups
Sounds harsh to remove your friends but as long as you are a friend of theirs (on Facebook – not in real life) other people can access your information through their profile. Same goes for groups. Removing friends and groups is as easy as clicking on them in the Friends tab and selecting “Remove Friend” or “Leave Group”.
3. Delete all pictures and personal information
Go to your profile and delete all your personal information. Then delete all your uploaded photos. If you uploaded any other personal information like credit card numbers, hotmail account info or other things you should have kept to yourself delete these as well. To prevent Facebook to have future access to your Hotmail account it would be wise to change your account password in Hotmail as well.
Enter a new non-functional or spam email address. That way you won’t be bothered in the future. Finally change your name. You can do this under the “Account” settings in the top right corner. This final change can take some time but will eventually take place.
4. Deactivate your account
Deactivating your account does not delete it. It merely makes it dormant. Facebook will retain any info you have on your account which is why you need to do everything listed above. Even when your account has been deactivated you can access it with your username and password.