You can’t delete your Facebook account. Deactivating it only removes what you did on your profile, not others’ profile like if you wrote on their wall or commented on a photo. Of course, you can’t remember every place you might ever have left a comment or link so deleting your past actions is only partially effective. What can you do then, to protect or remove your Facebook past and why you should care?
Why you should care
If you’ll be applying for jobs, scholarships, or even school, in the future, you might be subject to online screening by whoever is judging your application. And no, setting heavy privacy to your profile won’t do the job. They’ve got ways through professionals they hire do snoop on your online footprint. More and more post-secondary institutions and employers are screening people’s online profiles to get an informational advantage to know more about those to whom they might give scholarships, admittance and/or jobs. As of April 2009, about a quarter of U.S. colleges reported doing some “research” about applicants on social networking sites or through Internet search engines (report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling). Meanwhile, in 2008, a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found 34% currently using social networking sites to recruit potential applicants, while another 19 per cent said they plan to in the future (Yahoo! story no longer available). Of those who used social networking sites to screen applicants, 47% said did so before contacting the applicant for the first time. This “research” is fair and legitimate, but would likely be considered “snooping” by most people, although if you put themselves in their shoes, wouldn’t you do it if you could?
What can you do about it?
You make a new account, transfer friends to it by suggesting your new account to them, change the name of the old account to something nothing like yours, delete all photo albums, and deactivate the old account. This solution may make some teens and other people gasp, but trust me, it’s not the end of the world to do it.
Here is a suggested series of steps to keep this orderly and manageable. You can change this as you see fit for your situation.
- Create a new email or use an alternate one you have, and change your Facebook account email to that one.
- Set up a new Facebook account, using your current email, because Facebook won’t let you have multiple accounts to the same email.
- Your new account name should be very similar to yours, but not necessarily (just easier if it were). Maybe choose a name differing by a middle initial. You can always change the name later. So if your name were John Doe, then maybe John A Doe. I’ll use this name as an example the rest of the way.
- Use a picture showing mostly only your head, by itself, clearly looking like the way you do now.
- Join networks where you have the most Facebook friends so later on, they can search for you more easily, if they choose to. Your city/town, school or work are probably the most effective networks.
- Set your new account’s status to something like This is the new Facebook account for John Doe.
- Add your current Facebook account as a friend to your new Facebook account.
- Each day for a week, or fewer number of days if you have less patience, set your current Facebook account status like a count down on how many days before you switch Facebook account. Example: 7 days till I switch to my new Facebook account, John A Doe. You can still update with other statuses, but try not to leave them on for long before changing it back to the change of account status.
- Suggest your friends to your new profile each day till you run out of your list. This is the secret to transferring your Friends list easily. On new profiles, below the profile picture, there’ll be a bolded statement saying [name] is new to Facebook. There is a link below that to “suggest friends”. Click on that and your list of friends shows up. You just click names and Send suggestions. It’s as easy as that. There’s a limit per batch, but just do it a few times over each day. Your current status in your new and old accounts should tell people what you’re up to. It’s also a good way to purge people you never knew well or don’t care for any more! You have an excuse if they whine about it, too! 😉
- Throughout the time you change accounts, be sure to log into the new one regularly to accept new friend requests. That’s how they will appear on the new account.
- Start removing all photo albums on your old account. I’m not sure deactivating an account will leave public photo albums public or not, or just maybe ones with your friends’ comments, but let’s not take any chances. Don’t forget to remove every last profile picture, too!
- At the end of your changeover period, change your account name to something nobody suspects will be you.This is the secret of why you are doing this! You see, because what you did on others’ profile remains there, deactivating the account just removes the link to your account so someone looking at it can’t click on it. It doesn’t remove the name. However, if the name were different because you changed it before deactivating your account, like if you changed it to Jane Fa, then Jane Fa shows up as the person who left that comment, not you! Get it? I recommend changing your account name to something common, like Johnny Smith. 🙂
- Deactivate your old account. Any friends not yet accepted your friends recommendation can still get the recommendation the next time they log in, or whenever they choose to look at their list. Anyone not gone over, well, maybe they don’t want you as a FB friend. Try not to take that personally. It’s only Facebook. Others who missed the boat can either still search you later or find you through common friends’ friends list, if they really want to. You can also look them up, too, of course.
After you have your new Facebook account, practice good Facebook Netiquette. If you let it slip, do this again from time to time.
Other Facebook issue posts on my site:
Which Were the Most Popular and Interesting Cartoons You Saw for the Facebook Campaign Against Child Abuse?
Remove 5 Facebook Friends Challenge
Which Facebook Friends Should I Remove?
“Study” on Facebook Narcissism and Insecurity not REAL Research
A Few Thoughts on Facebook Friends (and some polls)
How to Cancel or Retract Friend Requests on Facebook… and Why?
The Prejudices and Privacy Perils of Facebook Quizzes
25 Things For Facebook You Can’t Steal My ID With
25 Things You Gave on Facebook to Help Get Your ID Stolen
Una Guía de Netiqueta Práctica para Facebook
A Practical Facebook Etiquette (Netiquette) Guide
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.5
(that’s about right for the legal age to have a Facebook account)