How to permanently delete your Facebook account

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

by Silumesii Maboshe

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.

Here’s how to delete your Facebook account.

Start at the Facebook Help Center.

You can drill down to the instructions by clicking through:

  1. Facebook Basics
  2. Explore Popular Features
  3. Profile Wall/Timeline
  4. Account Settings under “Editing Your Profile”
  5. How do I permanently delete my account? under “Editing Your Settings”

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.

Delete my account.

Click the big blue button labelled “Delete My Account”.

Permanently delete 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”.

Permanently delete account.

Curses! I was wrong. Let’s try that again…

Permanently delete account.

Success! Take that Mr CAPTCHA. And now, onward, there is still an account to delete. Click the big blue button labelled “Okay”.

Account scheduled for deletion.

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.

…14 days later

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.

Log in Test

If I try to log in with the old account:

Log in to Facebook

I get a message that my email address is “incorrect”. I assume this means it is not linked to any existing account.

Incorrect email

This is good.

Password Reset Test

As a final test, what happens if I try to reset my password.

Identify account

Facebook can’t find the account.

We couldn't find your account

Alrighty, then! All gone.