Fed Up With Facebook? Delete it, and Here's How
His language may have been grandiose, but Zuckerberg's message was clear: Facebook is only as big as its users have allowed it to be. Zuckerberg designed the Facebook universe, but it was the online proletariat that provided the gravitational force necessary to keep everything in orbit.
Somewhere between then and now, however, things changed. The campfire's been extinguished, the 'Kumbayah' songs of global online brotherhood are now nothing more than a faint echo.
Just a few months after its 400 millionth user hopped aboard, the company faces a scenario in which a sizable swath of its members are looking for a way to drop out of the Facebook loop altogether. Although the specter of a Facebook exodus has reared its head in the past, the possibility of a "Great Facebook Deactivation Wave" now seems more plausible than ever. Even U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer has a beef with Zuck.
In the blink of an eye, Mark Zuckerberg has gone from boy wonder to Big Brother, from Mozart to Mao. The man and his machine have suffered a populist fall precipitous enough to make even Tiger Woods wince with empathy. All this calamity, of course, begs the obvious question: "How did things go so horribly wrong?"
Paradise Lost: Tracing Facebook's Fall From Grace
Facebook also unveiled its new and highly controversial Instant Personalization service, which gives third-party sites access to an individual's personal data in order to market products, songs or news stories according to his or her preferences and online behavior. The Instant Personalization and Open Graph systems, by themselves, probably wouldn't ruffle too many feathers. The problem, however, is that Facebook's bigwigs have given users remarkably little control over either mechanism. Instead of making the services "opt-in," the social network has set them as the default setting for every user, effectively rendering privacy as the exception -- not the rule.
Facebook, for its part, has taken action to patch up some of its holes, and has unveiled a revamped verification system to guard against hackers. That probably won't do much, though, to help assuage the persistent fears that Facebook itself is eroding the privacy rights of its own citizenry. The very users who comprise the vertebrae of Facebook's digital Leviathan have thus begun to voice their displeasure -- and have started walking out.
How to Cut the Cord
As explained on WikiAnswers, deleting your account is entirely feasible, although we wouldn't exactly call the method simple. Before you begin, you should check to make sure you don't have active accounts on separate sites that require you to log-in via Facebook. If you still want to access these sites after you bludgeon your Facebook account to death, you should make sure you have some alternate means of logging in.
After that, you'd think the entire process was finished. And you'd be wrong. You see, Facebook kindly gives you a full 14 days to feel guilty about your decision. Should you log in during the ensuing fortnight, or even if you click a "like" button on a third-party site, your account will suddenly jolt back to life.
If you're still having trouble shaking free of Zuckerberg's unique stench of dystopia and formaldehyde, you can always e-mail network administrators directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and ask them to delete your account. It'll probably take a few days for Facebook's employees to answer, but you should get a confirmation response, eventually.
Once you receive it, you should probably double check by trying to log-in to your account. If you can't log in, and if you don't get a message asking you to reactivate your account, Zuckerberg's army of elves has done its job.
Profile assassins beware: even after you've cremated your account, its spirit will still live on in the social networking ether. That's because Facebook, according to Future Tense's John Moe, will retain your personal information for data mining purposes, even after you've spread your profile's ashes across your local beach. Some things, as Daniel Johnston once told us, apparently do last a long time.
"I can't quit you"
If it's external hackers you're worried about, you can always delete your apps and the data stored on them, which will now be preserved indefinitely under the site's new policy. Otherwise, Facebook's new security measures give users newfound control over who logs in to their account, and from where they do it. It sounds good on paper, but then again, it's Facebook we're talking about. Accepting privacy protection from Mark Zuckerberg is like accepting relationship advice from Larry King.
A Post-Facebook Era?Whether or not Facebook's empire is crumbling, one thing is obvious: the social network is at an evolutionary crossroads.
What the standoff ultimately boils down to is a simple conflict between corporate hegemony, and consumer demand. Is Facebook confident enough to pursue its agenda against the tide of widespread protest? Or will it eventually come to terms with the fact that its future remains inextricably linked to its digital body politic?
In February, Mark Zuckerberg wrapped up his glorified pat on the back by writing, "We look forward to building more things and continuing to serve you for many more years to come." The question now, though, is whether Facebook's users still want to be "served," or if it's time for us to circle the wagons, and regain control over a social phenomenon that, for all intents and purposes, was ours to begin with.