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I Decided to Delete All My Facebook Activity (slate.com)
79 points by jamesbritt on Jan 1, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 67 comments

I "deactivated" my Facebook account long ago. I'd like to delete it, but that apparently involves sacrificing some small animal and studying the entrails for clues.

I deleted by Google+ account(s) recently, as well. I have several Twitter accounts with no tweets. I'm thinking of sanitizing my LinkedIn account soon.

It's not that I'm anti-social (well, maybe); I am just one of those elder geeks who once dreamt of truly federated services under one's own control.

I deleted my Twitter account, LinkedIn, and Google+ a couple of years ago. I also Googled myself and slowly removed myself from every other service I haven't used in years. Facebook was the only one I kept as I get a lot of value from it. The only server that has crawled back into my life is Google+, and only for one reason - Android. It's the easiest way to backup all my photos. Not to mention the fact I also use Youtube, Google Music, Gmail etc. and it's only a matter of time until a G+ account was forced on me again. However I don't post to the G+ account and I think I've only followed one or two people.

> I also use Youtube, Google Music, Gmail etc

> a G+ account was forced on me again

To be clear, a G+ account is a Google account. It ties together all Google properties. Just seems bizarre to use these and consider G+ as being forced on you - it is just your Google account. One doesn't need to actually use the social features provided by one's Google account.

Isn't avoiding G+ still the only way not to have its real name policy inflicted upon your account?

A Google account can optionally have G+ enabled or disabled. It's not a requirement.

You can delete your Google+ account without deleting your Google account [1].

[1] https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1044503?hl=en

This is false.

No, this is not false.

I've been free of Facebook since June of 2010. Still use the crap out of Twitter and G+ though.

Dropbox also has automatic photo uploads, if you're interested in an alternative. The space you're given grows to accommodate your photos such that you virtually have infinite photo storage space.

I actually use Dropbox's photo uploads and like it however Google+ Photos seems more nicely integrated with my Android device.

It's not that I'm anti-social (well, maybe); I am just one of those elder geeks who once dreamt of truly federated services under one's own control.

What the world needs is a club for anti-social people, to (mis?)quote Ashleigh Brilliant.

I very much share your perspective. I never bought into the Facebook madness, tried G+ very briefly under my real name, then decided that wasn't a good idea. I've since withdrawn virtually completely from it though I may use it to help promote my writing elsewhere.

One thing I've found as I look to alternatives is that much of the infrastructure for a federated system already exists. Blogs, RSS/Atom, image hosting, and a very few other pieces, would pretty much make it come together.

A slightly better integrated messaging infrastructure is the primary missing bit (though there's no reason why any of the existing tools, including Jabber, AIM, or IRC, couldn't cover much of the ground).

And I'm not knocking Google for its technical execution. G+ was very well engineered (hrm: why am I referring to it in the past tense), phenomenally stable (I saw one push which broke the site in 2.5 years), and at least on the server end, performed well (the client side is another story, and I'm having to free browser memory far, far less often having left it). In terms of UI/UX and social factors ... I really found the site left a great deal to be desired.

Deleting your Facebook is difficult? I believe mine is hard deleted (not deactivated), and it was the same workflow as deactivating it, if I remember correctly. I just clicked "delete" instead of "deactivate" or whatever.

Facebook leaves the account deactivated for a week so you can ponder on your choice, but if you don't do anything, it was my understanding that the account gets deleted.

I believe doing the delete account via Facebook will only delete [your own] posts and things on "your timeline/wall". Any comments you made on other peoples posts do not get deleted. I believe, using the "automation" method or similar methods actually goes through and finds all your posts and comments on other people's walls/timelines and also deletes them.

I deleted my account and I am pretty sure all your comments on others' things do get deleted..

Nothing gets deleted ever, your account and related data still lives in facebook servers but only accessible to facebook and their commercial partners (also NSA, US government, spy agencies and crackers).

Unless I am misunderstanding, that is all but totally unrelated to what we are talking about, however true it is.

But you may have a shadow account on Facebook, if that rumour is true.

You can't delete the data you gave to facebook, you can make it disappear to the other facebook registered slaves but it will live forever in facebook storage.

I don't think that option has existed for a long time.

I'm with you. I actually installed wordpress/buddypress on a 5 dollar droplet on digitalocean. It works great as a kinda Facebook replacement that I only allow my family to use. We can share photos and send private messages and even chat. No ads, no facebook.

I know it's old-fashioned, but Usenet is still out there and is still good for communicating and sharing, with no one out there building a profile of your stuff and trying to make money off of it. Change your name and email address - or just use a fake address - anytime you want.

I shared that optimistic dream for the internet back in the early days, but I think we've figure out how to make money off it now and that's going to be its undoing.

Usenet is free, doesn't provide any value anyone could easily monetize, and allows interaction with other users. That's about all I want from the Internet these days anyway.

I don't know if this procedure for deleting a Facebook account still works, but it's worth a try: http://www.groovypost.com/howto/security/permanently-delete-...

Here's for you my friend:


alternatively, you could give http://www.howtoleavefacebook.com/ a try

Don't delete your name--some other dude will just snatch it up, and make mark richer. I still use facebook sometimes, but under a pseudonym. Now--- Google Social, primary, whatever---needs to be burned down!

What most people seem to be missing and which the article does not properly explain is why some people think it is necessary to delete each item individually.

Yes you can both deactivate (soft delete) an account and you can actually say to facebook to actually delete it. Deleting an account does not allegedly remove your data from the Facebook servers. Deleting items however will remove your data from the servers. The idea is that you should delete each little thing first, and then delete the actual account.

From the FAQ at http://suicidemachine.org/ :

"Facebook and Co. are going to hold all your informations and pictures on their servers forever! We still hope that by removing your contact details and friend connections one-by-one, your data is being cached out from their backup servers. This can happen after days, weeks, months or even years. So merely deactivating the account is just not enough!"

He wants to keep using the account, just remove the historic activity.

NB: She, presumably, based on "Jennifer Golbeck".

> "Deleting items however will remove your data from the servers"

Why are you so sure about this?

It will remove the data from the cache servers but the data will not be deleted from facebook storage.

Expiration dates for posts is a brilliant idea. Who ever is working on the "next Facebook", I hope you implement something like this.

Actually I'd rather prefer someone to not invent the next Facebook. It reveals the human trait that despite best intentions, when shareholders get involved, cash is king regardless of the ethical stance the company supposedly takes.

Good point.

In my mind, ideally the next big social media platform will be P2P and open source. I have some ideas on how this might work and the features this would include, but I've never hashed them out since my programming ability doesn't approach the level required for such an undertaking. Maybe I will as a thought experiment and publish my ideas so that anyone can use them.

Are you aware of Diaspora ? It's both distributed and open source.

Diaspora is a poor attempt at copying facebook, it's nothing like the distributed I have in mind, which would be easy to use encrypted self-hosting and not tied to a specific network/website/technology.

So basically implemented with no technology? Maybe just an idea in your mind?

Yes, but it doesn't solve everything and it's not available to everyone.

It addresses a few needs. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

And there are numerous nodes you can create an account on -- no need to be self-hosting. Though with FreedomBox, that would actually be pretty tenable.

That was a particular bit of brilliance from the article.

One of my friends from G+ (which is to say: someone I met through G+ and started following there) has made a practice of bulk-purging his account every so often.

My own response has been to greatly curtail my activities on the site (due to Google's ever-encroaching property linkages), even though I'm already participating pseudonymously. I've hand-deleted some content, but am holding out on a broader deletion given the prospect of recovering some of my comments (presently not included in the Data Liberation Front), with some third-party tools. Though I may just pull the trigger and do a full wipe.

The fact that Google offers this option is actually somewhat commendable.

Ooh, cool. I was just idly wondering today whether I could easily delete all my posts from high school (full of angst about calculus and bus rides).

If Facebook actually wants people to be using their service in twenty years, they should really build timeline cleansing in.

It would probably be a good idea to make only actions made after accepting a friendship were visible to the new friend. So old HS friends could still see old posts, but new work friends can't.

>> "I was just idly wondering today whether I could easily delete all my posts from high school (full of angst about calculus and bus rides)."

Although I agree with your feature request why does it matter to you that that stuff is there? I enjoy going back through my timeline (maybe once a year or so) and seeing old things. There may be a few things that make me cringe but there's nothing so embarrassing that it would have any effect on me currently should anyone else see it.

Probably just me but that sounds crazy (very possible you use it normally while I don't). I've deleted then returned to FB many times. Even when I'm not deleting my account, I always clean out my past posts, sometimes a few days later (after posting them) while other times I'll wait a few weeks. If I add a new profile pic, I usually delete the old one. Also, I talk to people via PM.

I doubt that's something Facebook would ever do as it would remove the point behind "Timeline", which goes all the way back to when the user was born.

If it stops people leaving Facebook like the parent suggests it sounds like something they should build. If people are leaving your service because of one of your major product features you have a problem.

I agree. Unfortunately, the fact that they include the moment you were born in your timeline makes me feel that they don't want us to easily curate our profile.

I might be a pessimist though, I hope they add the feature.

Keep those. It would be funny to look back on in 20 years, if it lasts that long.

The author keeps referencing posting 'links and videos'. I guess the value you get from Facebook depends on how you use it. I occasionally post a cool video I've found (and I usually post that specifically on the wall of someone I think would like it) but 80% of the stuff I post and my friends post is not links to content on other sites. Most of the content posted are photos or people messaging each other through wall posts rather than PM. Although it's obviously not all useful to me it makes Facebook's Timeline feature more interesting. Going back and seeing links posted would be quite boring. Seeing messages people posts to me or photos or comments on an event we were at are nice to look back on.

Maybe I'm just cynical, but I am very doubtful that Facebook would hard-delete anything.

I did this a year ago. I used the mobile site because it has less JS and iMacros[1] to delete the posts. Took me about an hour to delete approximately 900 posts.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/de/firefox/addon/imacros-for-fire...

Cough..snapchat..this is the value it brings.

Except that's not really secure, either.

I never claimed it was secure, or private, or whatever. Just that the functionality of Snapchat embodies what the author was saying.

>> On average, it took 20 to 30 minutes to purge a month’s worth of posts. After about 12 hours of hand-deleting stories, I decided it was time to automate.

12 hours of deleting by hand? I don't know if I could even do 20-30 minutes worth without seeking a tool.

That's dedication, or something.

You'd be surprised how dedicated normal people are when they don't know that these simple things can be automated. I remember about 15 years ago when I was a freshman in highschool, and found my sister replacing every space after period on her 40-page thesis with two spaces. I told her of the find/replace all feature, and she was pretty happy. Over the years I've gone through a crazy number of incidents where normal people are spending tens of hours on things that would literally take me less than maybe 30 seconds to do.

That's fair. I actually had a similar experience with our publications team replacing a word across multiple pages on multiple spaces of our wiki. I can hardly imagine not immediately seeking/knowing to try to seek a better solution.

I cringed when I read "(...) and since it's my data, I want to be in control of its disposal.", OP obviously makes the confusion between providing the data and owning the data. It's regrettable that she contributes to propagating the idea that users own their data on facebook, when in reality once it is on facebook server it's not their data anymore, it now belongs to facebook.

I think this is why Snapchat strikes fear into the heart of Facebook. It's not the current business model of sending drunken cleavage shots and not charging for them... it's the potential for a social network that really states the present, not the forever. I think there's tremendous value there.

imho deleting social profile is not an option anymore. Other guy could make it look like yours. It just too suspicious to not have online profile. Double identity is the key. Just be one kind citizen for the system. Generate likes and upload kittens.

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wait, wouldn't it be faster to write a small script to hit the facebook API foreach activity? I thought this was hacker news, not clueless article writer news

You know they won't actually delete your data, right?

Remove the cause and not the symptoms.

I'd be more impressed if you just deleted your facebook account

And so I just did

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