Social Media Matters

About this Blog: Kristin Burnham chronicles what matters (and what doesn't) in the world of social networking, Web 2.0 and consumer applications.

Social Media Matters

Facebook's New Delete Account Option: When You Need Out

Facebook has made many privacy changes to appease users, the newest of which makes deleting your account easy. Is it enough?

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First comes the guilt trip (Rebecca will miss you. Steven will miss you. Tom will miss you..). Then it wants to know what went wrong (I spend too much time here. It's not useful. I'm concerned about my privacy.). And then even after you do all you can to part ways—once you think it's over—its presence lurks for the next two weeks (John Smith has tagged you in a photo. Jane Doe has invited you to an event. Will you join this group?).

Facebook, it isn't easy to quit you.

But now there's good news if you're still reeling from Facebook's recent privacy flap or can't justify the time you spend on the social networking site. Facebook, according to rumors, is testing a solution to make the break-up a lot quicker, easier and hopefully painless.

Deactivating your Facebook account currently requires you to first find the feature (Account > Account Settings > Deactivate Account), bid adieu to your friends, state why you're leaving and check a box if you don't wish to receive e-mails from Facebook. If you don't check the box, Facebook will e-mail you for the next two weeks when someone tags you in a photo, asks you to join groups or invites you to events.

The new feature Facebook is testing is a "Delete Account" option, which will permanently delete your account and all information you've shared—a considerably easier option with fewer hoops to jump through. Facebook, it seems, may finally be reflecting on its former self and righting its wrongs.

For instance, paired with this new feature is the announcement of a new, official Privacy Page focused on keeping users informed about objectionable content, cyberbullying, privacy and security. It includes resources such as a safety guide; privacy and security FAQs; and quick links to your privacy settings page, its Safety Center and its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. A response to its "mea culpa" privacy debacle and promise for transparency, no doubt.

While these two instances are relatively small changes, add them to the others and you begin to see Facebook's newer, softer side. Facebook finally took ownership for its missteps. It introduced new, simpler privacy controls. It produced a privacy hub with info for its users, and now it's making it easier to delete your account.

So are Facebook's actions too little too late, or will its changes keep you hanging on? What do you think should be next on Facebook's privacy fix-it list?

Staff Writer Kristin Burnham covers consumer Web and social technologies for CIO.com. She writes frequently on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. You can follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.


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