I was talking with some friends the other night about this idea of digital conservation, and wondering aloud if I might be ready to stop using Facebook (probably not just yet). However, I had heard rumors that if you delete your Facebook account, all of your information- wall posts, photos, messages, videos, etc. – will remain on Facebook’s servers, and possibly even visible on your former friends’ profiles and any groups you belonged to. Is this true? I decided to do a little digging.
First, I Googled “what happens to my data if I delete my Facebook account?” I found this group page among the results, which claims that by using an obscure form on Facebook, your account will be “permanently deleted within a few days,” and that “this method is official and should be complete, i.e. no need to delete individual photos, comments, messages or items from your profile or anywhere else on Facebook!” Below is a screenshot of the form itself:
One interesting note: the blog post they mention above does not seem to exist anymore.
I still don’t know what happens to your data if you leave Facebook. They just don’t seem to want to make this very clear. So what should you do if you want to remove yourself, and your data, from Facebook completely? At this point, it looks like the only way to know for sure that nothing of yours will remain would be to systematically delete every item you’ve posted. Right… Or, this guy suggests that you just get yourself deleted by Facebook by violating their terms of service. Not great options, huh?
Of course, if you want to be a digital conservationist, you probably don’t have to delete your Facebook account. You could start by just cutting down on your use of it in general. You know, post a few less pictures, send less messages, record less video?
Update (04/13/2009): Facebook’s electricity bill is estimated at $1million per month!