2054 Steps to closing your facebook

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					Yes, it's true! I finally managed to close my Facebook account. It was a long, arduous
road - the hardest part was slaying the Gorgon on level 16 - and I'm glad it's finally over.
If you, cherished reader, are wondering why I would do such a thing, then wipe those
potato skins off the top of your Bananarama tour t-shirt and keep reading:

I already left Flickr, Myspace, Youtube, and most of the other similar web services
because they want to eat our babies. The process was fairly straightforward for each of
those (Though Flickr ends it with a pretentious fuck-off: "Thanks for using Flickr. See
ya!" Whatever. Goddamn wankers).

Facebook, however, was a much more interesting endeavour. You see, you can't really
close your Facebook account once you open it; you can only deactivate it, which I
somehow missed when reading their 913 page privacy policy:

Changing or Removing Information

Access and control over most personal information on Facebook is readily available
through the profile editing tools. Facebook users may modify or delete any of their
profile information at any time by logging into their account [though we don't provide
any means to delete more than one item at a time, which is about as enjoyable as
having your nose picked by Andre the Giant]. Information will be updated
immediately. Individuals who wish to deactivate their Facebook account may do so on
the My Account page. Removed information may persist in backup copies for a
reasonable period of time [Eternity is reasonable!] but will not be generally available to
members of Facebook and by 'generally', we mean sometimes, and by 'members of
Facebook', we don't mean our corporate and government buddies named Clives or
Dustin who come golfing with us on the second tuesday of every month, after the
Freemason meeting].

Emphasis mine.
When I first wanted to leave Facebroke after seeing an ex-flame post ridiculous badly
photoshopped pics of her in a bikini , I must've missed the subtle distinction between

Maybe it was a gremlin in the system, but I kept receiving emails from Facebook - I
couldn't find out how to leave their subscription list. I kept digging until I tried logging in
again with my 'deactivated' account. To my surprise, they sent me an email telling me
how to 'reactivate' my account - meaning that Facebook still kept a copy of all of my
personal data, indefinitely. No offense, guys, but what the fuck?

It's one thing when I choose to leave a web service (Flickr, Youtube) because I don't want
them profiting from my content. It's another when they prevent me from leaving. Is this
really the only choice we have left? Shitty web companies vs. shitty web companies
that keep and distribute your personal data ad infinitum even when you request
your account to be closed?

As it turns out, I had to 'contact' facebook and ask them how to delete my account, only
to find out that I have to manually delete every single minifeed item, friend, post, wall
writing, etc by hand, one-by-one, or else they will refuse to close your account. When
you're a member of the Internet High Society as I am, you find that you have thousands
of these items to delete.

Here's the complete transcript of the conversation I had with "Lucy From Facebook".
You'll find me tedious, boring, petty, and acting like the douchebaggiest dick you'll ever
know. In other words, it's just like meeting me in person.


I've recently "deactivated" my Facebook account, but cannot find a way
to completely delete my account.

I would like all of my information to be wiped from the facebook

Please delete my account en related information in its entirety (my
account email address is steven [at] stevenmansour.com), or send me
instructions on how to do so myself.

Thank you for your time,

Hi Steven,

If you deactivate, your account is removed from the site.
However, we save all your profile content (friends, photos,
interests, etc.), so if you want to reactivate sometime, your
account will look just the way it did when you deactivated. If you
do want your information completely wiped from our servers, we
can do this for you. However, you need to remove all profile
content before we can do this. Once you have cleared your
account, let us know and we'll take care of the rest.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

Customer Support Representative

Hi Lucy,

I've removed all profile content from my account as per your request.
Now, please go ahead and completely delete my account
(steven [at] stevenmansour.com).

The procedure to close an account on Facebook is needlessly convoluted
and unclear. To bring itself inline with privacy policies dictating good
behaviour on the web (see http://www.privacyinternational.org/ ), it
would be a good idea for Facebook to give users a one-step option to
close / delete their account instead of just 'deactivating' it, which is
misleading (if not blatantly dishonest) to users.

Please let me know when my account has been completely destroyed.

Thank you,

Steven Mansour

Hi Steven,

I apologize, but you have not completely deleted all of your
information. You still have incoming and outgoing messages,
wall posts, mini-feed stories, friends, and contact information
remaining on your profile. Once you have completely removed
all information from your account, I will permanently delete it for

Thanks for contacting Facebook,
Customer Support Representative

I'm sorry, but it is unreasonable to expect users to manually delete,
one-by-one, each and every bit of information / friends / "notes" / wall
writings that they've posted or that other users have posted on their
accounts. It would take me hours to delete each wall post and feed

It would be far easier for you to simply delete my account - and asking
me to manually erase each entry is unnecessary.

At this point, you have two choices:

- You can stop giving me the run-around, and just delete my account so
that everyone will be happy, or

- You can refuse to comply with your own privacy policy and user
standards, in which case I will be forced to escalate this situation.

Please advise,

Steven Mansour

Hi Steven,

I apologize for any inconvenience, however this is our privacy
policy for permanently deleting accounts. I am unable to delete
your account unless you have personally removed all of your
information. You may either completely clear your account so
that I can finish this process for you, or you can leave your
account deactivated. Let me know if you have further questions.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

Customer Support Representative

Lucy from Facebook,

I've removed all my private data.

Close my account.

Hi Steven,

We have processed your request. Let me know if you have any
further issues.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

Customer Support Representative

Now, most people won't get why this is such a big deal. But it is a big deal. Your
personal data, especially on the web, is something that will be increasingly valuable to
corporate and government interests - and increasingly important (and, perhaps, difficult)
to protect.
I'm reminded of being at the SaveTheInternet.Com party in Memphis (Christ, what the
fuck is a "YouTuber"?) where everyone was giving each other handjobs over how they
spread the message about Net Neutrality and beat the telecoms with the help of Google
and Yahoo. They didn't realize that they helped win the battle, but in doing so, they lost
the war. They turned a blind eye to their supposed allies and failed to apply the same
yardstick to measure privacy neutrality as they did to network neutrality. Google is
ranked as one of the worst privacy firms on the net.

I don't know about you, but I like the idea of being in charge of my own private data, and
controlling access to it accordingly. There will be lots of interesting battles fought over
this in the next few years, so whatever you do, make sure you think long and hard about
just how open you want to be with you own privacy - and whether others will treat it with
the same respect as you do.

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