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Closing the door on Facebook

By Linda Gonse, Editor/Webmaster, ORCOPUG (Orange County PCUG), California

April 2012 issue, Nibbles ‘n Bits

So, you have been reading about more privacy concerns in Facebook. You have decided to close your account. But, unless you are aware of what this means and how to go about it, you may not actually close the account.

You should be aware, too, that you are not going to erase your existence in Facebook when you do close your account. Some people have the mistaken idea that after quitting Facebook their data will get old and vanish.

Know the facts. Familiarize yourself with Facebook’s policies before you take steps to end your relationship.

There are two methods of closing a Facebook account. You can either deactivate your account or you can delete it. If you deactivate it, your account is closed immediately. Your information is saved as you left it in the event that you may want to return to it someday.

What’s more, if you log into Facebook within 14 days of deactivating your account, it is automatically reactivated!

Deletion is another thing. Not so easy.

What does Facebook say about deleting the account?

If you do not think you will use Facebook again and would like your account deleted, keep in mind that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added. If you would like your account permanently deleted with no option for recovery, log in to your account and then submit your request here.

Prior to taking this option, you should delete any information you wouldn’t be comfortable leaving behind. Note, too, that you are only submitting a request. The request goes into the system where it is regarded as a pending deletion request. Then what happens?

Once you have submitted a request to permanently delete your account, no further action is required on your end. Our system delays the deletion process in case you change your mind and no longer want to permanently delete your account. Note that logging in to your account again will undo a pending deletion request.

Once your account is permanently deleted, there is no way to undo this action. You will not be able to reactivate the account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added to it. (Source page:

You’ll note that it does not say how long the deletion process is delayed, only that it will be.

Eventually, the account gets deleted. But, what actually happens when your account is permanently deleted? Here’s what Facebook says. (The emphasis is mine.)
• You will not be able to regain access to your account again. (This should not be a surprise. That is the idea, right?)
• MOST personally identifiable information associated with it is removed from our database. This includes information like your email address, mailing address, and IM screen name. SOME personally identifiable information MAY REMAIN, such as your name if you sent a message to someone else.
• Copies of SOME material (photos, notes, etc.) MAY REMAIN in our servers for technical reasons, but this material is disassociated from any personal identifiers and completely inaccessible to other people using Facebook. (Source page:

Armed with this information and lowered expectations, you are now ready to close the door on Facebook.