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, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Jem — December 18, 2010
Theyve been doing this for over a year. Your data is too precious to them for you to leave.
Noanodyne — December 18, 2010
I haven't read all the FB terms and conditions, but I bet they get to keep anything you put on there, even if you leave. Let's say they don't come right out and say they're keeping all your stuff, you can bet they've found a way to do so one way or another. There's no way they haven't figured out how to keep all that data that they're promising to advertisers and other interested parties. So that's not why they want users to stay. What they're trying to prevent is a mass exodus - they're smart enough to know that what can be built by popular consensus can be brought down the same way.
R — December 18, 2010
I find it interesting that Genesis C. had to deactivate her account to focus on her exams. Thirty years ago, would she have unplugged her phone or stopped her mail service? Or would she have found another way to ignore distractions?
Although I haven't been a "regular" user of Facebook for about a year now, (after being a huge FB Evangelist in 2005/2006) I don't harbor any ill-will toward the site. It annoys me when people try to blame FB itself for being distracting or getting too much info. The site is only as distracting as you let it be, and it can only gather data you give it.
I don't see how the process described above is different from most any other site. Yes, the delete button is not front and center (although I don't think it should be) but the ability is still there. Every site with accounts asks if you're sure you want to leave, with a reminder of their service. And the default assumption on ANY site is that they get to keep your data. NYTimes doesn't delete all your comments on past articles if you delete your account, because other people have likely responded and it wouldn't make sense. On FB, someone has likely commented on your post or is tagged in your photo - so why would they delete those just because you left?
Facebook itself isn't inherently evil. It's no different than if you spent all day/ night on the phone getting caught up with "real life" friends, except this way you don't have to actually bother others to get your gossip and news.
Simone Lovelace — December 18, 2010
I really try not to hate on blog authors, since they're putting up free content for my amusement and edification, but...why oh why of why does this keep happening????
It is clearly a known problem, which a fairly simple solution, so...
K — December 18, 2010
I just want to warn people that the LaRouche cultists often set up booths promising to deactivate your social-network accounts for you (like Facebook and Myspace). As far as I can tell, this is a way for them to collect personal information so they can contact people.
TWS — December 18, 2010
This is funny because when I deactivated my Facebook account, either by accident or some very clever algorithm, I noticed it really did display the most effectively manipulative group of people-who-would-miss-me imaginable. It still kinda haunts me.
Nairrater — December 18, 2010
Is it possible that the face book user is being manipulated (via pseudo intellectual sociological thought)by this forum. Kudos to the conflictual thought process, but I think I am being manipulated by thinking in outside the box mode while I realize I am still inside another box. Back to the example presented, I think if someone wanted to study for their exams in peace, they should cancel their face book account, Cancel their cell phone (and land line), cancel your mail, shut off the power to your house, and let everyone know in advance to leave you alone for a few weeks.
Fox — December 18, 2010
I have to disagree with people who say that Facebook is "no worse" than other companies. It reminds me far more of those creepy magazine subscription con games and "film clubs" and other dishonest businesses that try to trick you into thinking you're getting a deal when really you're spending more than you thought you were, and they make it insanely difficult to extricate yourself once you've been dragged in. In this case, Facebook is a "free" social networking site.. which relies on its users to give up information in order for it to profit. I can't think of another free service that makes it so complicated to remove your data and/or delete your account. Twitter, LiveJournal, bookmarking sites, internet forums, even MySpace; they all allow you to delete your account in just a few steps.
This isn't just FB saying "Are you sure?" and offering you a coupon or some other suggestion to change your mind. They make you wait two weeks, and ANY log in during that time cancels the deletion process. Which doesn't sound that shady, until you realise how many links you must studiously avoid in order for this to happen. Your friends can still message you; FB can and will still send you notifications (trying to get you to log in); people link to their FB blog posts and shared content all the time. And this is after you've gone through all the steps to even submit your profile for deletion. By contrast, LiveJournal is a service which operates either on ads or as a paid service (user choice) and they give you a certain amount of time to change your mind and undelete your account, just in case, but as soon as you hit "delete" it's gone. If you cancel your paid subscription, you basically get one line in the confirmation message saying "We're sorry to see you go, if you change your mind here's how to buy more paid time." (Also, although all of your own content will be deleted, comments you left on others' journals remain.)
Facebook reminds you at every step that you are deeply entangled in the site's system and that by deleting your account you are not only deleting your own profile, but also making yourself disappear from your friends' online lives (removing your name from photos, etc). It tries to guilt you into staying, in a deeply manipulative way that few other businesses resort to. It's like if Netflix said "Are you sure you want to cancel your subscription, knowing that the small fee you pay every month keeps this poor widow employed and her puppy fed?" with photos. :P It brings to mind those horrible ASPCA ads, but at least they're highlighting an actual tragedy and making an appeal for aid that is actually needed. Facebook is using your social ties to make you feel as though it's a necessary element in your life and you're making a horrible mistake and alienating your friends in order to circuitously make you feel guilty for reducing their profits. :P
Rachael — December 19, 2010
I bet that when you pick your reason for wanting to leave, someone from the team will email you to reassure you about why you needn't leave Facebook for that reason.
Makenzie — December 19, 2010
This reminds me of Neopets. When you try to get rid of a pet and pick a new one, they make you go to a "shelter" and drop it off. You have to click through a series of buttons that cause images of your pet to appear that look progressively more pathetic and beg you not to leave them. Remember, these are collections of pixels we're talking about, and I felt guilty for a WEEK.
Philip Harrover — December 19, 2010
I'm reading this blog instead of doing my work. Go figure. Stupid FB!
Vee — December 19, 2010
Oh yes. I had this same issue today myself... I got a facebook account for just under 24 hours (trying to get in contact with a friend I was really worried about). After ascertaining she was okay, just too busy with exams to email as often as she used to, I tried to deactivate the account. I too got the impression that they didn't want me to leave. Actually, what made me want to leave was the attention itself, as well as the fact that Facebook somehow managed to suggest people I knew in real life as friends despite me giving a fake name and email address none of my friends know about... it was very creepy. I'm too private for something like facebook, and I'll be celebrating two weeks from now when it deletes that account.
April — December 20, 2010
Personally, I'm annoyed that my own boyfriend doesn't have a facebook account. So many of our mutual friends do, and they often post parties/happy hour meetups/get-togethers on facebook and nowhere else. Which means I become the appointment keeper for my boyfriend's social life as well as mine, and in addition, he often doesn't know what's going on in our friends' lives.
Esteban Ottaso — December 25, 2012
An (abandoned) Facebook friends collection. Esteban Ottaso, 2012.
Single IT engineer guy tries to delete his Facebook account, can’t | My Faking News — May 12, 2013
[...] random act of God (or Mark Zuckerberg) the screen came up with random (but perfect) list of friends that will miss Anupam. You guessed it- there they [...]
FAREWELL FACEBOOK ⋆ POMONA ROCKS — April 22, 2022
[…] That’s what Facebook would like you to think. If you’ve ever tried to deactivate your account, you’ll have had your heartstrings plucked at by Facebook telling you that your friends will miss you. […]