Genesis C. smartly decided to deactivate her Facebook account, and thus its distractions, during her final exams. “It felt as if Facebook was doing all it could to convince me to stay.” First Genesis sought to delete her account altogether, but finding a delete button took quite a bit of digging (and some googling). She set about to delete, but the site insists on a 14 day waiting period. A deleted account in two weeks wasn’t going to help her study now, so she decided to deactivate instead. She continues:
After I selected the “deactivate” button under “account settings” Facebook asked me “Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?” and under that it displayed pictures of a few friends, captioned with the lines “[Friend’s name here] will miss you.”
The images they included weren’t profile pictures, but pictures in which Genesis had been tagged, so Facebook deliberately included people that she knew personally.
I just thought it was very interesting to find out how manipulative a social network like Facebook can be by trying their best to make you feel that you really need Facebook in your life. First of all by making it very hard to finalize your deletion request and by making you feel that by deleting/deactivating your account you lose connection with your closest friends, as if it were the only form of communicating with these people.
See also an ABC News story on deleting/deactivating your Facebook account.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.