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How to quit Facebook (and why you should)

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Quit Facebook. Seriously, the world would be a better place without it, just like it’d be a better place without award shows and televised parades. You may think they’re entertaining or are somehow bringing value to your life, but they’re not.

Trouble is, Facebook doesn’t make it easy to quit. Trust me, I’ve tried. I got right up to that next to impossible last step before my boss told me I had to have an account in order to be an admin for our clients. I’m assuming that’s not the case for all of you, so here are most of the steps for shutting down your Facebook account and enjoying that superiority catharsis you can only achieve by alienating people you shouldn’t be pretending to be friends with in the first place.

  1. Log in to your Facebook account.
  2. Click on “Account” in the upper right tab and select “Account Settings.”
How to quit Facebook

  1. Click on “deactivate” at the bottom right of the list.
How to quit Facebook

This is my favorite part. This is where Facebook tries to lay a guilt trip on you for not making them and their advertisers money.

First, notice they don’t tell you you’re deleting your account, they tell you you’re deactivating or disabling it. That’s because Facebook makes it well nigh impossible to completely remove your personal information from their servers. More on that in a bit. First, check out the images below of me with various Facebook “friends.”

How to quit Facebook

This is hilarious, but I think unintentionally. These people are going to miss me? Well, Tieraney’s my wife. She’s in the living room right now watching our son play “Godzilla Unleashed” on the Wii. Let’s see if Facebook is right.

“Hey, Tieraney, Facebook says you’ll miss me if I shut down my account? That true?”

“I don’t talk to you on Facebook.”

Fair enough. How about the other four, then?

Jack had his family up for Balloon Fest in July, and we’ll play in the annual Turkey Bowl this Thanksgiving or Christmas, depending upon when we schedule it. We’re good. Bill writes for Appletell; he gets enough online demands from me already. I haven’t seen Peg in three years, but I miss that shirt I have on in that photo. I don’t wear enough flannel anymore. Jon and I are driving to Buffalo this Saturday to see Shonen Knife. We’ll have more fun during a two day road trip than we have in two years of Facebook correspondence.

In other words, none of these people will miss me, and the belief that Facebook helps prevent people from missing their friends is weird and arrogant, isn’t it? Does telling people what you’re eating for lunch, or fishing for parenting compliments, or posting some ill-informed political nonsense just to see who disagrees with you somehow ease the separation that miles and time and changing beliefs/attitude have generated? If so, your definition of “friend” is different from mine.

Of course, that’s likely a good thing, since mine is apparently too strict. I have five friends. A hockey line. My wife is my goalie. There are people on the bench, so I can substitute, but only five friends on the ice at any given time (sometimes, I need an enforcer, after all, and the first line does grow fatigued). But if you’re not suited up on game day, you’re just an acquaintance. I like the majority of my acquaintances, but are they friends? Well, I wouldn’t help any of them move if they asked.

That’s actually a good test. Look at all of your hundreds of Facebook “friends.” See how many would help you move if you needed it. If they wouldn’t carry boxes up and down steps for you, they’re not your friends. They won’t miss you when you deactivate your account. That’s not to say they won’t be mad, because people love to get angry about dumb things these days, but that’ll work out to your advantage. Now, they won’t ask you to help them move. Everybody wins.

Anyway…

  1. Facebook requires you to tell them why you’re deactivating. In my case, “It’s making me hate people from my past to whom I should just feel indifferent” wasn’t an option, so go ahead and just check whatever feels right like I did.
  2. Facebook will also ask you to explain further. This was my response:
How to quit Facebook

It should be yours, too. I’ll type it out for you so you can easily copy and paste:

I owe you no explanations.

  1. Opt out of the e-mail. Otherwise, what’s the point?
  2. Confirm. Confirm as many times as you need to.

Facebook will continue to pile on the guilt. Don’t give in. They’ll keep your account active in case you want back in—you’ll just have to log in as you always did to reactivate everything.

And that’s what sucks. Facebook will not delete your account. If someone gets ahold of your user name and password, it’ll all come right back up for them. How’s that for privacy?

To actually have Facebook delete the account, go to www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account and follow the instructions there. After you do so, do not log into or connect to your Facebook account for 14 days, as doing so will reactivate it. Whether the deletion actually occurs, though, is kind of a crap shoot. Don’t count on this method to work.

You can also try e-mailing Facebook directly at privacy@facebook.com. Within a few days, you should get confirmation back that your account has been deleted. This is the method I used, and two weeks later, my boss ordered me to get back on Facebook. Everything was right there waiting for me, without judgment.

The smug bastards.

Hopefully, you’ll have better luck getting out than I did. If not, hey! Why not friend me? If I can’t get my inflated sense of self importance by abandoning people on Facebook, I can at least get it my ignoring as many requests as possible.

Follow Kirk on: Kirk Hiner on Twitter Kirk Hiner on Ping
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  • Boca Boi 786

    great…love it…this has been the most exciting post I have seen in a long time…kirk you are the best

    I will have to pass this on to everyone I know…I think I will post it on my facebook page…Share anyone?

    lol…good luck tho…facebook isn't so bad…it's just a little annoying at times

    but I love the part about helping you move…that is the true showing of who your friends are…and most of us realize that we have very few of them

    thanks again

  • Jan

    I can't deactivate my account because I can't log in. They keep saying they don't recognize my location so I have to prove who I am by either receiving a confirmation code or identifying people on my friend list. Well, the confirmation code never comes through to my Motorola Tracfone and I can't remember the people on my friends list. I have tried to explain this to them and have asked them to delete my account for the past week, but have been completely ignored. If anyone knows how to pass bypass the proof requirements, please let me know because I want nothing to do with facebook.

  • normanj

    This is one of the most helpful and useful articles I've read … thank you! I never have been able to figure out why I would want to communicate via Facebook instead of regular email. I don't begrudge others, but Facebook is a time-waster of the highest sense for me. I'm outta here!

  • DaisyG

    Great article! I couldn't agree with you more and will put your advice to good use when I attempt to delete my Facebook account. Wish me luck; it sounds like I'll need it. Thanks for a much-needed laugh to start off a Monday.

  • Richtard

    i may have overlooked it but i didn't notice anyone mention http://suicidemachine.org/

    it's a site dedicated to completely removing any trace you may have on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and/or LinkedIn. choose the network you want to remove yourself from and the suicidemachine removes every trace possible you may have on that network you're deleting.

  • Kirk Hiner

    Good suggestion re: suicidemachine.org. I remember hearing about that on NPR a few months ago, and should've mentioned it here. I haven't used it, though, so I can't vouch for its capabilities.

  • DeleteMe

    If you need help deleting your facebook profile — or any other social networking service for that matter — just contact the folks at DeleteMe for assistance.

    Go to http://www.getabine.com/deleteme for more info. We specialize in online consumer privacy protection.

  • Phil

    Hey man, I actually wrote a (free) program that completely and permanently blocks your computer from Facebook, with no way to un-do it.

    So for those who have no self control and can't stay away, check this out: http://www.blockfb.com it might just be the answer.

    -Phil

  • nico kars

    You are giving not one good reason to quit.