Leaving Facebook is harder than you think

Posted by gminks in privacy | Tagged | 3 Comments

My new years eve party was awesome. After recovering (from cooking and hosting – forgot how much work that was!), it’s now time to finalize moving from Facebook.

The new year’s eve party was the last one I organized on Facebook. In addition to waiting until after this party,  I was waiting for Facebook to send me an email that my data export was ready. I waited a week and never saw an email, so I re-requested the export. This time I kept checking the page where I made the request until there was a download button. It took about 30 minutes.

I still haven’t seen an email from Facebook.

I have all of my pictures and videos, which is what I really wanted. I also found my ICQ number and I remembered my password, so that’s an unexpected bonus! One disturbing thing is all the private messages that are still available. And apparently will remain available after I leave.

But now it’s time to finalize my plans to leave Facebook. One thing I’m worried about are accounts that have to be linked to Facebook as the authentication mechanism. One example is Instagram.  I had an Instagram account before Facebook bought them, so I’m not sure what will happen to that account when I leave Facebook. The honest truth is that Facebook owns Instagram, so that is probably then next one I need to leave no matter what happens. It’s a pretty big mess to untangle.

Leaving Facebook is also confusing. You would think that you’d find that option in your settings under Security. At the bottom you’ll see the line “Deactivate your Account”.  According to text, all this does is disable your account, and ” Some information may still be visible to others, such as your name in their friends list and messages you sent.”.

deactivate facebook


This isn’t what I want, I want Facebook to forget I existed, run that rm -rf *.* on my account please! Where is that option? I clicked the Learn more button. That brought me to Facebook’s privacy basics page. After nine clicks, I get to a page that tells me if I want to permanently delete my account, I have to go to learn more in their Help Center. Facebook makes it very easy to deactivate your account, but they put you through nine clicks and still don’t give you the link in the text of the page to take me to the place where I can delete my account (although there is one in the top menu bar). They really, really do not want you to leave.



Before I headed to the Help Center, I checked out the Data Policy link. I clicked on the How can I manage or delete information about me, and found this interesting:

You can delete your account any time. When you delete your account, we delete things you have posted, such as your photos and status updates. If you do not want to delete your account, but want to temporarily stop using Facebook, you may deactivate your account instead. To learn more about deactivating or deleting your account, click here. Keep in mind that information that others have shared about you is not part of your account and will not be deleted when you delete your account.

And apparently, you can never really leave. Messages you have sent remain in the account of the person you messaged with. Facebook will disassociate your account from personal identifiers, aka they replace your user name with your user number. This means some stuff stays forever, no matter what you do. You can check out but you can never leave….


This is the link to delete your account:


So my revised timeline is this:

  • Leave date is next Friday, Jan 8
  • I’m going to let my friends on facebook know, and make sure we’re connected elsewhere
  • I think I’m just going to wing it with regard to Facebook-dependent apps like Instagram. It will make my list of apps I need to leave shorter.

I’ll post updates as things progress.





3 Responses to Leaving Facebook is harder than you think

  1. LAG says:

    Thanks for the information. I’m (being honest here) too lazy to go through all of that to get off Facebook and it’s how I connect with family. My mom’s health isn’t good and other family members are getting older too. It’s too convenient. However, you’ve inspired me to get focused so I’m going to not log into Facebook for a month and see how different life is. Fortunately, I’ve never conveniently logged in with my Facebook account for other apps, except for Instagram and FB Messenger. It always scared me to log in that way.

    • gminks says:

      I hear ya about family. But thats also why I am leaving, hoping to set an example. and I knew better than to be so lazy and sloppy with my logins. There is a blog post about that coming too.

  2. Peg Wright says:

    Thank you for this information. I’ve never really trusted Face Book or other tech social applications. A little too global for my comfort zone. I may be old fashioned but many of the pre-technology methods for contacting people still work just fine. Such as snail mail and telephone (land line) calls and visiting face-to-face. I did create a Face Book account about 10 years ago but haven’t accessed it for about 8 years. I’ll follow your lead here and see about deleting as much of my account as possible.

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