It was just Monday that the New York Times reported on the difficulty some users were having when trying to permanently delete their accounts from Facebook. The social networking site offers a “deactivate” feature, but still archives all of a user’s personal information in case that user decides they miss Facebook and want back in. Frustrated members turned to groups on the site to complain (where else?) and get advice on unofficial processes for deleting their accounts. Today Facebook made account deletion a tiny bit easier.
Facebook modified its help pages to instruct users that permanent account deletion could be requested by contacting the company. “If you do not think you will use Facebook again and would like your account deleted, we can take care of this for you,” says the page. “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.”
The company stopped short of saying they would supply a permanent account deletion button like rival MySpace. Facebook told the New York Times that if they perceived that they needed a more streamlined account deletion process they would test different implementations. So far, Facebook doesn’t see that need. “On any given day, the number of users reactivating their accounts is roughly half of the number of users deactivating their accounts,” Katie Geminder, Director for User Experience and Design at the social network, told the paper.
Though welcomed by critics of Facebook’s lack of account deletion policy, some feel that the new blurb in the help pages doesn’t go far enough. The aforementioned “How to permanently delete your facebook account.” group has added almost 4,000 members since the original Times article ran on Monday. “But why hide the option far down in the help pages? And why make it a form? Do I first have to go hunting for HOW to leave, and then explain WHY?” wrote the group’s admins in response to this morning’s change, “This is a decent first step, now implement the long awaited delete button, thanks!”
Being able to permanently remove information from social networks like Facebook is not a trivial matter for some users. As we recently wrote, Facebook and other social sites are fast becoming your online “permanent record.” People often feel comfortable disclosing sensitive information on these networks, possibly because they’re communicating with friends. Being able to remove that personal information permanently is an option that I’d wager many people want, even if most aren’t clamoring to exercise it (until the need to delete outweighs the utility of having an account, most people aren’t going to want to delete their account).
What do you think? Should Facebook make it easier for users to delete accounts? Let us know in the comments.