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Monday, January 25, 2010

Deleted My Account On Facebook

If you found this page because you are looking for a way to delete your Facebook account, scroll to the bottom of this message for the link to permanently delete your Facebook account.

Warning, this is going to be a long post, as usual it didn't start out to be so long, but once I started writing, I found more and more to include in this message.

Facebook, MySpace, and a myriad of other social networking sites... many of you use them, I was a reluctant Facebook user for a while myself. The only reason I signed up, and it was against my better judgment, was because Primitive Bob's son, who had joined the Marines was using it. We thought it would be a good way to keep in contact and see the pictures he uploaded to it, not to worry, we don't blame him, I'm sure he had no idea how insidious Facebook seems to be.

For a long time, I had him as my only "friend" on there, I would ignore or reject others who requested friendship. Not because I didn't want to be "friends" with everyone, I just wanted it to be Bob's son and myself on there. Well, eventually I agreed to be friends with a couple of other people, that was where I messed up, as soon as I agreed to do this, my account information was spread exponentially to dozens then hundreds, maybe even thousands of other people, most of whom I don't know, have never communicated with, and had no reason to do so. How does this happen?

It's simple, at least with Facebook, (henceforth referred to as FB), once you hook up with a friend on FB, let's call that person Sally, anyone who is Sally's friend on FB suddenly sees you on their FB page as a possible friend, perhaps you might know this person because you both have a "friend" in common. Now this friend of Sally can click on your FB link and see a lot more than someone who was not potentially connected with you at all, it's surprising how much of your info is shared with these "potential friends".

Some people on FB have hundreds of friends, it's almost a badge of honor to have lots and lots of "friends". I think I had fewer than 15, probably fewer than 10 to be honest. The problem is once that happened, I was getting a couple of "friend" requests a week, sometimes more, these were people I didn't know, but since we seemed to have a FB friend in common, it was assumed, by FB that we might either know each other, or have enough in common that we might be interested in becoming FB friends. All of these people had access to some of my supposedly private FB info, I had no idea. Seems kinda innocent, nice in fact.

On occasion I would glance at the sidebar on FB and read the widget that suggested possible connections for me, people who were friends of my FB friends. Sometimes I would click on one just to see what it said, I was amazed time and time again at how much private information was being shared by these people, they innocently put this information in their profile thinking that only their FB friends would see it, no one else. That is very far from the truth. There are levels of privacy on FB, if you do not have a FB account, or you are not logged in, that is one level, another level (and consequently more info is shared) is if you are a friend of a friend, you might not know this person from Adam, but if you have a FB friend in common, then more information is shared.

FB makes it possible to send a note to someone who sent a request to be your FB friend, but if you do that, it makes your full FB page available to them for a period of time, even if you decline the friendship! That is a fact! There were several times when someone requested a friendship, I knew them from the internet but didn't want to do the FB thing with them, I wanted to send them a note explaining why, I was doing this strictly for a couple of people, not for everyone, but if I had done that, it would have opened up my FB page to them for a period of time, I had no options to prevent that, at least none that were obvious. So I would just decline and hope they weren't offended by it.

A few weeks ago, I was looking at the potential friends suggestions and I did recognize a name, it was my sister's best friend, someone she knew from her childhood. I clicked on her name and it took me to her FB page, though it didn't show me her whole FB page, it did show me more information than I knew about her previously, things that should be private from the world at large. Things like her birth date, age, her children, her work history complete with company names, dates worked and duties, it didn't say where she lived, but based on the work history and the city names listed on the work history, and all the other information, it wouldn't have been hard for even the most incompetent idiot to figure out how to find her, and it wouldn't have been hard at all to steal her identity.

Of course, all of this information, she typed in, she voluntarily gave this info to FB thinking it would be visible only to those she was FB friends with. I emailed my sister and let her know about this so that she could alert her friend to remove this information, or at least make it not visible to someone who wasn't a direct FB friend.

FB assumes that I would have been delighted to "find" this person, and they assume that this person would be delighted that I found them, but what if I had been not on good terms with this person in the past, what if neither of us wanted contact with the other, or worse, what if one wanted contact and the other didn't?

This was a major wake up call for me. Signing up with FB is so easy, they make it seem attractive to write in more and more information, things like your full name, birth date, work history, have children? Great, how many, their ages, sex. Your relationship status, your location, hobbies, interests and please post lots of pictures. If you have a blog, they make it easy to connect your blog to your account so that every time you post something on your blog, it is posted to your FB page, something I didn't realize was happening at first, it took me forever to figure out how to disconnect my blog from my FB account. They make it incredibly easy to sign up, but nearly impossible to remove these connections. I finally figured out, purely by accident, how to disconnect my blog from my FB account. Do you really want all of this private information visible to everyone who are friends of your FB friends, all these people you don't know?

Another problem that became painfully obvious to me, one of my FB friends was friends with someone from my past life, no I'm not talking New Age stuff, just someone from many, many years ago, someone who has the potential to cause serious problems for me, though it's not probable that anything would happen, the fact that the potential connection was there and I had no way to opt out of this process if I remained a FB user, this is unacceptable to me and was the nail in the coffin for FB. I can only hope that she isn't reading my blog now, this would be very uncomfortable at the least, potentially disastrous at the worst. Yeah, I know that this person could have found me anyhow, just punch in my name in any search engine and my blog shows up, but I would like to think that this person has moved on with her life and hasn't thought about me in years, but now, there is my name popping up on their FB page as a potential friend just because we have a FB friend in common, now I have to be worried about this person showing back up. Just to be clear, this was a legal issue, not a personal issue.

That being said, I started looking on FB for a way to delete my account. It turns out that there isn't an obvious way to do it, oh they will let you deactivate your account, but your information remains intact, just inaccessible, (they say), and at any time you can reactivate your account with everything intact, you can pick up where you left off. I wanted to completely delete my account. I had already deleted all of my pictures, links and such, did that weeks ago, but I still wanted my account gone, not just inactive. I found a way to do it, the link will be provided at the end of this message.

I posted one final message to my page stating that I was deleting my account, I went to a couple of my FB friends and let them know as well. The main thing is the people who already know me, know how to contact me and how to follow me without using FB. I went to the FB page that lets you delete your account and pressed the button. It was quick and fairly painless. It does warn you not to try to log back into your account for the next 14 days. That's how long they wait before completely deleting your account, I suppose that's to give someone the chance to change their mind. If you log in before the 2 weeks is up, it cancels your cancellation. It's tempting though, just to check to see if your account is really gone, but wait the full 14 days, I'll wait an extra day or two, just to make sure, then I'll check.

I had a bad feeling about FB before I joined, I generally listen to that little voice, it has never lead me wrong. I wasn't comfortable with it and I was right to be concerned. Privacy has been a major issue with FB, just do a search for privacy and Facebook, you will find loads of fodder that would turn your stomach.

I know that my life is pretty public here, but at least here, I have the option to allow as much or as little information about myself to be public, my personal information isn't being populated on people's browser window just because we might know someone in common. FB is supposed to have some privacy, you can't just browse people's FB page unless you know them and they allow you in. The problem is, being a social network, they, FB, go out of their way to connect people, it's what they do, they try to get you to agree to let them into your email account to harvest all of your email contacts, I never let them in, I suppose the reason is to try to hook me up with more FB friends, allowing even more people access to what is supposed to be private. FB doesn't make it very easy to know what information is being shared at what levels, if you have a FB account, do you know what information is visible to non-FB users, friends of friends as well as your FB friends?

Look at it like this, let's say you work in a company, you know a certain number of people in this company on various levels, some you work closely with, some you are on "nodding terms" with, now you probably don't mind these people knowing certain things about you, heck you see them every day. Now all these people you know from work, have friends and family outside of the company, outside of your circle, now suddenly all of these people, people you don't know or have any interest in knowing, all of these people know about you, have access to some of your information, private information that you aren't even aware is visible. You start getting emails and text messages from some of them, stating that they know someone you know, therefore you might have something else in common with them, they want to be your friend. Sure you can ignore these requests, if you reply directly to them, even to say sorry, not interested, now they have even more access to your personal life, even if it's only for a short time, see where I am going here? This behaves like a virus.

All of this because you wanted to keep in contact with a few friends and/or family. It's possible to dig deep on FB, go in and set who and on what levels people can see your information, it's not easy, their site is complicated to navigate, the menus are not intuitive, it's easy to miss something, and nearly impossible to remove access to some parts. They absolutely do not allow you to stop other people from seeing you all together, so anyone who is friends with one of your FB friends has the ability to see and contact you, period.

Maybe I'm being paranoid, but seeing that one person from my past on FB rattled me, because if I could see them, they could see me. How many of you have someone from your past that you'd rather not have contact with? How likely is it that this person or persons would know someone that you know? Not likely? I would have said that too, until a few days ago. How many potential stalkers, how many potential identity thieves are out there, trolling through their FB account, looking for likely targets? Think you're safe? Think your information is only visible to those who are your FB friends? Think again. I'm not saying to run out and delete your account, though I wouldn't be disappointed if you did, I would suggest that you go back through your FB account and see just what is visible and on what level. I'll bet my sister's friend wasn't aware of just how much private info she was sharing with strangers. It's not like your information is just "out there", available to someone who might trip across it, your FB information is being purposely populated, inserted on potentially hundreds, maybe even thousands of other FB users page, simply because you have a FB friend in common.

The other annoying thing about FB, at least for me, is all the games and apps on the site, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of them, silly little games and apps with no redeeming qualities, the only reason they exist is to get FB users to log in more often. I would log in to my account and would have to scroll through page after page of messages about whatever game my FB friends were playing, so and so earned a thousand hugs, got another barnyard animal or signed up for some giveaway... I don't care about any of that, I didn't sign up to read about what games my FB friends were using, I certainly didn't want to play them myself. FB at least had enough sense to make it possible to block these game and app messages, but you have to do it for each and every one, you can't just block all of them across the board. Gads, it seems that some of my FB friends did nothing but play these games all day, their whole FB page was nothing but these games, oh well, whatever floats your virtual boat. LOL!

I didn't mind reading updates and such from my FB friends, but I didn't want to receive a boot, or a heart, or a virtual barnyard animal or any of the other little games they played, many of these games are like sim games, something I am not the least bit interested in, nothing personal against the people who enjoyed doing this, I am just not interested in participating in it. Darn, why couldn't FB just make it possible to block all of these types of messages, it would have made it less annoying for me to log in and look at my FB page.

Well, enough FB bashing, I just wanted to let everyone know why I deleted my account, and alert anyone who uses FB about the potential privacy issues, or breaches, so that you can do something about it.

Now, go out and do the right thing. A big smiley to anyone who knows where I got that quote.

Go here to learn how to delete your Facebook account, you must be logged in to Facebook to delete your account.
Just in case that link doesn't work or is taken down, here is the short version of what it says,
HOW TO DELETE, (short version),
Go here:
Click "Submit" and follow the instructions.

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properly pronounced wreetha, (included for the text reader),

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keywords: delete facebook account, delete my facebook account, delete your facebook account, facebook face book, remove facebook account, cancel facebook account, facebook privacy issues, 


  1. Wretha, I deleted my fb account a few months ago for the same reason. It creeped me out to see people showing up to be my "friends" that were computer generated just by me being a member. The whole things seems like a huge date mining contraption. I'm sorry I signed up in the first place. Dang it.

  2. I can't agree more. I've two major problems with FB. The first you've covered really well: privacy issues. The second is that it's a huge time sink. I've enough of those already.

    My lovely wife is on it, but she's recovering from shoulder surgery and has time to kill. It does keep her busy. She lets my three year old granddaughter play the games, so I guess we know how difficult they are.

    One pet peeve is that it's now assumed that everyone is on FB. I've had to tell people not to assume that I know what's going on because someone posted it on FB. Even my recovering wife isn't on every day.

    Also bothered by the whole "friend" thing. It's like that old joke. A friend will help you move, a real friend will help you move bodies. Will your FB friend help you move? If not, that's an aquaintance, not a friend. By the way, it's also nice to have some "real" friends too.

    I tell people I'm on Meat Space. It's where flesh and blood people get together in real live.

    Thanks for putting in delete info. My wife may need it when her shoulder gets better.

  3. Well, It depends how you look on it.
    On one Fb account I'm a 90 year old dragon from somewhere usa and on the other I'm a cartoon character. I feel that FB is a complete waste of time, but those games help me through the winter till spring, Besides I manage 2 rather large "vampire clans" in one of the games and that activity is good experience for working with largish diverse groups. My real name appears seldom anywhere on the web, same goes for real life. My computer persona predates the web as I used to be on BBS's all across the country since I could afford a modem for my old c-64. It wasn't good OPSEC then to let out your personal info and It's definitely not good form now. Even my ip's don't match up to a physical location. I use 4 different ones in rotation to connect to blogger.
    Call me paranoid but I obscure any information as to my current physical location on computers all the time.
    never give out your personal info online. You can be phished or worse, socially engineered. Truth be told, it's rather easy to find someone using a computer unless that someone takes pains to avoid being found. if you don't believe me google your own name. The results may surprise you.


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