Whether you call it a bug or a feature (or a neo-con conspiracy), there's no doubt that closing and deleting a Facebook account could be made a lot easier. While it's simple enough to de-activate your account on the social networking site, doing so won't remove your data. Instead, all of your personal information (photos, blog posts, friend networks etc) remain stored on Facebook's servers by design, in the vain hope that exiting members will one day return.
The technological hurdles set by Facebook have a business rationale: they allow ex-Facebookers who choose to return the ability to resurrect their accounts effortlessly. According to an e-mail message from Amy Sezak, a spokeswoman for Facebook, “Deactivated accounts mean that a user can reactivate at any time and their information will be available again just as they left it.”
The downside to this feature, and blatant privacy invasion, is that "disenchanted users cannot disappear from the site without leaving footprints", as the Times notes.
So how do you remove your digital "footprints" from Facebook?
Ironically, the answer comes courtesy of a dedicated Facebook group no less. The "How to permanently delete your facebook account" group, created by Magnus Wallin, lays our three steps to Facebook removal:
1. Delete everything that is related to your profile. That includes, but is not limited to: pictures, friends, messages, wall-posts, mini-feeds, news-feeds, posted items, interests, groups, applications, gifts....etc etc etc... Get the picture? EVERYTHING!
2. Contact the Facebook staff and request a permanent deletion of your account and that all information about you is fully erased. Of course, remember to tell them your user name.
Go ahead and try the following e-mail addresses: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
You should get a response within a week.3. Once you receive a reply from the Facebook staff confirming that your account is deleted, try logging in to Facebook as you used to. If you don’t get an invitation to reactivate your account it should now be permanently deleted.
Note: I've not tested these steps to prove their effectiveness but members of the group are reporting success on behalf of exiting friends.