A blog about Politics, Texas, and Academia

You Can’t Escape Facebook

In College, Facebook, Just News, MySpace, Technology on February 11, 2008 at 10:06 am


Be careful what you post online because it will be out there FOREVER. This goes for not only Facebook, but images captured from blogs, MySpace, and other social networking sites.

From the New York Times:

Some users have discovered that it is nearly impossible to remove themselves entirely from Facebook, setting off a fresh round of concern over the popular social network’s use of personal data.

While the Web site offers users the option to deactivate their accounts, Facebook servers keep copies of the information in those accounts indefinitely. Indeed, many users who have contacted Facebook to request that their accounts be deleted have not succeeded in erasing their records from the network.

In response to difficulties faced by ex-Facebook members, a cottage industry of unofficial help pages devoted to escaping Facebook has sprung up online — both outside and inside the network.

“I thought it was kind of strange that they save your information without telling you in a really clear way,” said Magnus Wallin, a 26-year-old patent examiner in Stockholm who founded a Facebook group, “How to permanently delete your facebook account.” The group has almost 4,300 members and is steadily growing.

Facebook’s Web site does not inform departing users that they must delete information from their account in order to close it fully — meaning that they may unwittingly leave anything from e-mail addresses to credit card numbers sitting on Facebook servers.

Only people who contact Facebook’s customer service department are informed that they must painstakingly delete, line by line, all of the profile information, “wall” messages and group memberships they may have created within Facebook.

But even users who try to delete every piece of information they have ever written, sent or received via the network have found their efforts to permanently leave stymied. Other social networking sites like MySpace and Friendster, as well as online dating sites like eHarmony.com, may require departing users to confirm their wishes several times — but in the end they offer a delete option.

Facebook’s quiet archiving of information from deactivated accounts has increased concerns about the network’s potential abuse of private data, especially in the wake of its fumbled Beacon advertising feature.

That application, which tracks and publishes the items bought by Facebook members on outside Web sites, was introduced in November without a transparent, one-step opt-out feature. After a public backlash, including more than 50,000 Facebook users’ signatures on a MoveOn.org protest petition, Facebook executives apologized and allowed such an opt-out option on the program.

The network is still trying to find a way to monetize its popularity, mostly by allowing marketers access to its wealth of demographic and behavioral information. The retention of old accounts on Facebook’s servers seems like another effort to hold onto — and provide its ad partners with — as much demographic information as possible.

As mentioned, you and your friends are not the only ones looking at your personal pages. Who’s reading your facebook and MySpace pages? Potential or present employers keep tabs on your actions to see if you are “material” that is worth keeping in the company. Additionally, schools and universities have spied on their students and in some cases, taken disciplinary action against students who have pictures showing underage drinking or anything that paints their institution in a negative light.

If you don’t want it coming back and biting you in the butt down the line, don’t post it on the internet today!

  1. yes I agreee Here’s some pass forward: Thought for the day? : Don’t follow me. I’m lost too.

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