Facebook has an incredible story. I could wax philosophical about the website that is able to connect people with organisations, ideas, businesses, entertainment and each other in an elegant, consistent interface. Perhaps, one day, I will.
Today, though, is not that day.
For whatever reason, you may want to erase your Facebook account. You may have heard that it’s impossible to delete an account, although you can deactivate one. I’m happy to say that you can actually do both. The distinction is worth noting.
When you deactivate your account, it stays in a state of limbo—if you’re Catholic, think “purgatory”, if you’re a sci-fi nut the phrase “suspended animation” may tickle your fancy. The account remains devoid of its vital functions waiting for you, its beloved, to revive it. Once you log back in, everything will be exactly as you left it. Like going back to an abandoned home but without the dust, odor and neighbourly cockroaches.
When you delete your account, it erases all of the information you’ve amassed on the system. Forever. (We hope).
To delete your account, Facebook has a very deliberate set of steps to follow so it will be no accident.
Start at the Facebook Help Center.
You can drill down to the instructions by clicking through:
or you can go directly to How do I permanently delete my account?.
The process triggers once you submit a request to Facebook to delete your account. To do this click the link to submit your request here. You’ll be asked to log in if you haven’t already. Once you’re in, you’ll be able to confirm that you actually want to delete the account.
Click the big blue button labelled “Delete My Account”.
Enter your account password and fill in the CAPTCHA. CAPTCHAs are useful, but this is a tricky one. Is that a smudge? I wonder if I’ll get it right. Click “Okay”.
Curses! I was wrong. Let’s try that again…
Success! Take that Mr CAPTCHA. And now, onward, there is still an account to delete. Click the big blue button labelled “Okay”.
And we’re…done? A confirmation email from Facebook says the account will be deleted within 14 days. 14 days, huh? Very well. The Blue F has spoken. I’ll be back in 14 days to continue writing this post.
Thanks for coming back! Two weeks ago, Facebook told us it would take up to 14 days to delete an account. Today is actually day 15 (just in case). Let’s see how they did.
If I try to log in with the old account:
I get a message that my email address is “incorrect”. I assume this means it is not linked to any existing account.
This is good.
As a final test, what happens if I try to reset my password.
Facebook can’t find the account.
Alrighty, then! All gone.