How do I delete my Facebook account?

I get asked this question every day. At my speeches, by my clients, by my friends and family. It used to be that people no longer wanted the mundane information overload that Facebook promotes. But now they are looking at it from a privacy perspective – they no longer want their thoughts, pictures, and videos shared indiscriminately with people they don’t know.

The defections have been sparked by Facebook’s continuing march to sell your private information (with only your implied consent, i.e., simply by using Facebook, you agree to their terms) with an ever widening circle of people who are NOT YOUR FRIENDS (advertisers, data miners, and unfortunately, identity thieves). Many of the corporations I speak for have me include a component on safe social networking because the information their employees are posting (personally or professionally) are damaging their corporate brand and profits either through data leakage or as a beach-head for social engineering and other types of fraud.

In past posts, I have pointed to the tools at your disposal to tighten down your Facebook security settings. But suddenly, that is no longer complete enough for people, as Facebook continues to erode what little privacy you can control. Just look at the privacy related Facebook news in the past few weeks:

  • CNN Article about Facebook defection because of privacy concerns

  • ” Facebook announces Open Graph, which shares your data with websites outside of Facebook to allow for more targeted advertising

  • Security hole: Live chat messages and pending friend requests briefly available to ALL contacts forced Facebook to disable chat

So for those who actually want to take themselves off of Facebook (whether they want to delete their Facebook profile or simply deactivate it), let me give you the basics.

First of all, you need to know the difference between Deactivating and Deleting your Facebook account (I will walk you through the steps to do either). When you “deactivate” your account, Facebook merely suspends your account but retains all of your data in case you want to restore it at a later date (and in case they still want to sell it even though you are no longer active). When you “delete” your account, your information is permanently removed from Facebook (eventually) and cannot be restored if you change your mind. In other words, before you delete your account, make sure that you have original copies of any of the photos, videos, posts and contact lists in your profile. Once they are gone, they’re gone.

How to Deactivate Your Facebook Account:

Here are step-by-step instruction on how you can easily deactivate your account. Remember the difference between deactivation and deletion: deactivation is temporary so that you can reactivate your account if you wish to return to Facebook.

1. Log into your account and on the top right side click Account and then Account Settings. When this screen pops up, click the last option: Deactivate Account.

2. Once you click on Deactivate Account, it will bring you to the next page.

Even after your account is “deactivated”, you can still be tagged in photos, invited to events, etc. Once again, you are still an active part of the social networking site, it’s just that you don’t get to use any of the tools available to active accounts (thought Facebook continues to use your information). For a little additional privacy, be sure to “opt out” of emails at the bottom of the page if you don’t want to receive any communications.

3. The site will ask you to confirm your password as well as a “captcha” security word to confirm that you are a living, breathing defector and not a computer.

Remember, you can reactivate at any time by logging in with your email and password, although you must have access to your current login email address.

4. Following all of these steps, Facebook will send you an email confirmation entitled “You have deactivated your Facebook account”. Of course, the email gives you a way to reactivate your account – Facebook really wants you to stick around, as your information is what supports their bottom line.

If this doesn’t go far enough toward protecting your privacy…

How to Delete Your Facebook Account:

If you are certain that you won’t use Facebook again (at least with your current settings, posts, photos, videos, groups and pages) and would like your account deleted, please 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, follow these steps:

1. Log in to your account and then click here to Permanently Delete Your Facebook Account (and regain some sense of privacy). You should see a “Delete My Account Page.

2. Click submit to continue, enter your password, complete the security check and click OK to make sure that you want to continue with Deletion.

3. You will then be taken to one final page to confirm permanent deletion of your Facebook account.

Pay close attention to the second sentence. If you log into your account again (even automatically on your iPhone or in your browser or through an affiliated site like Twitter or LinkedIn) your profile will be reactivated.

4. After completing this process you should receive an email with a subject similar to: “Account Scheduled for Deletion”. At this point, you still have the option to cancel the request. I have heard that Facebook might guilt you into staying (e.g., they may say that Joe Friend (one of your contacts) will really miss you).

Deleting your Facebook account is a very personal decision, but it is your right to have these tools for controlling privacy at your fingertips.

About the Author:

To further bulletproof yourself and your business, visit John’s blog at To book John at your next event, visit John Sileo became America’s leading Identity Theft Speaker & Expert after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC.

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