Following the bad press it received, Facebook has responded by altering the site's help pages to explain how to permanently delete your account. The issue was highlighted earlier in the week in the New York Times and throughout the blogosphere: 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.
Buried in the official help pages is now the FAQ: How do I delete my account?
If you do not think you will use Facebook again and would like your account deleted, we can take care of this for you. Keep in mind that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added.
If you would like your account deleted, please contact us using the form at the bottom of the page and confirm your request in the text box.
A few observations: The information seems purposely buried on the site. It doesn't have a top level category to itself (in the help pages) but is located in 'Account settings'. The is counterintuitive. Deletion of an account isn't a setting but a point of no return (that's the whole idea). Additionally, the form to be used to make the request is poorly signposted (it's the same form used to report a general help question to customer support).
In a response to the Times today, Facebook were keen to point out that the difficulty in deleting an account is a feature not a bug!
“We’re always working to improve the user experience,” Katie Geminder, director for user experience and design at Facebook, said in a statement sent by e-mail.
“We are measuring the effects of the change we made yesterday, and if we think more needs to be done to improve the user experience for deleting an account, we’ll test different implementations and measure them accordingly,” she added.
I'd suggest Facebook adds a simple 'Delete my account permanently button' like other sites do. Although if they measure the results they may not like the outcome.