Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Social Networks Privacy The Internet

Facebook A Black Hole For Personal Info 242

Posted by Zonk
from the halp-meee-halp-meee dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times has an article on how Facebook is so sticky it is nearly impossible to get loose. While the Web site offers users the option to deactivate their accounts, Facebook servers keep copies of the information in those accounts indefinitely. Many users who have contacted Facebook to request that their accounts be deleted have not succeeded in erasing their records from the network. 'It's like the Hotel California,' said Nipon Das, a user who tried unsuccessfully to delete his account. 'You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.' It took Mr. Das two months and several e-mail exchanges with Facebook's customer service representatives to erase most of his information from the site, which finally occurred after he sent an e-mail threatening legal action. But even after that, a reporter was able to find Mr. Das's empty profile on Facebook and successfully sent him an e-mail message through the network. Facebook's quiet archiving of information from deactivated accounts has increased concerns about the network's potential abuse of private data, especially in the wake of its fumbled Beacon advertising feature."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Facebook A Black Hole For Personal Info

Comments Filter:
  • Good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:27AM (#22391678) Journal
    Here's hoping that this will in the end reveal that 99% of humans are freaks, that the loudest judgmental voices are actually the biggest hypocrites, and we can all get along better.

    Fuck privacy. Here's to transparency and the death of hypocrisies!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Hey, when you get a minute, email me your home address. I want to go to your house and stare at you all day.

      Note to mods: Don't bother modding this OT/flamebait/troll/stalker or whatever. I'm just continuing a conversation with parent that we've been having for a while, so don't bother wasting any points.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mgblst (80109)
        Ha,ha,ha,ha....

        Injokes are great.

        I hope to have one, one day.
      • Note to mods: Don't bother modding this OT/flamebait/troll/stalker or whatever. I'm just continuing a conversation with parent that we've been having for a while, so don't bother wasting any points.

        Hmmm .... while we're offtopic, can I put in a request for "-1 Fucking Stupid" and "-1 Uninformative" moderation options? Too many times have I seen someone get modded up writing incorrect drivel, and the only option you can use is "Overrated".

        Let's get some angst into our moderation, /.ers! No more Mr. Nice Geek!

    • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:59AM (#22392096) Homepage
      'tis true.. we are all freaks in our own way. The more realize that the less we'll have people thinking there's something bad about them simply because they like to enjoy life.

      Which probably means 'normal' isn't what the press would like you to think it is.
    • by Tribbin (565963)
      Yes, because one's facebook is a very accurate representation of the person who wrote it. No hypocrisy will be found there since the most active users of such sites find no importance in how the world perceive them!

      Oh wait ...
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

      by moondawg14 (1058442) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:10AM (#22392210)
      If you haven't read "The Light of Other Days" by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, I suggest you do. It might become your new catechism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Light_of_Other_Days [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      the loudest judgmental voices are actually the biggest hypocrites

      Fuck privacy.

      I bet you think "irony" means "sort of like iron".
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Joe_in_63640 (1228646)
      It's simple, Data is only as valuable as, and as long as - the data has integrity and is representative of a real-world application. - Want out? Change your info. Contaminate the data. Pollute the archives with near-accurate but fictional info. Change it often, anonymizing and obfuscating the truth. Change your zipcode. Change your e-mail address to a throwaway Yahoo! or Hotmail edress. Change your age to 11. Let them datamine. Privacy is a fading Illusion, but Heisenberg was righ
  • New Idea (Score:4, Funny)

    by mfh (56) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:28AM (#22391696) Journal
    I am starting a new website that will build an altar to the Social Insurance number. All you have to do is fill out this little form and give us all of your personal info, and we hang up your Social Insurance number, then calculate your relevance compared to everyone else who uses the service. THIS IS A FREE SERVICE! If you sign up now, you also get a free password check, where you give us your username and password to every website and bank you use and we provide you with your security relevance score! FREE FOR THE NEXT 50 USERS!

    Visit our website right now to enroll for free!
    • Re:New Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sayfawa (1099071) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:09AM (#22392198)
      Funny, but also a bit scary, as just this morning I read about this: [bbc.co.uk]

      Tech giants Microsoft, IBM, Google and Yahoo have joined the board of the Open ID Foundation which aims to streamline login systems across the web.

      The Foundation wants to bring about a system that could mean one ID acts as a guarantor of a person's identity across all the sites they have signed up for.


      Oh good, so I only have to have one online identity compromised in order for them all to be compromised. I hope it's not just us slashdotters who think this is a bad idea.
      • Re:New Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

        by maxume (22995) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:45AM (#22392662)
        Or, you can just use lots of different Open IDs and maintain your own status quo.

        For most users, having their primary email address compromised leads to the same situation, so the transition to Open ID won't really change anything, except it allows you and your Open ID provider to pick the level of authentication, rather than the provider of whatever service you want to use.
    • Re:New Idea (Score:4, Funny)

      by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:14AM (#22392254) Homepage
      Heh, your social insurance number site reminds me of one of Jerry Lee Cooper's great computational achievements [linuxtoday.com]:

      Just the other day, I helped an enterprise client do some work in MSSQL - they had to import LITERALLY DOZENS of customer records from an SQL database into a spreadsheet. We managed to do this quite easily by clicking the mouse for a few hours together, setting the ODBC drivers up using heaps of helpful GUI tools. We then managed to get the spreadsheet to AUTOMATICALLY TOTAL all of the postcodes for the customer records, and even calculate the AVERAGE of the postcodes.
      Try doing THAT with your little shareware database !! Hmmph !
  • Easy Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saterdaies (842986) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:28AM (#22391704)
    When you want to leave, start adding bogus data. Friend people you don't know. Change the bio data. Tag yourself in pictures you aren't in. Basically, generate random activity. Defriend your actual friends. Change your name. After a time, it becomes very difficult to determine what is real and what is fake.
    • by Tribbin (565963) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:42AM (#22391886) Homepage
      Yes, so now my would-have-been boss thinks that actually I'm a 15 year old girl who does not know when to use CaPiTaL lEtTeRs.
    • Re:Easy Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:45AM (#22391934)
      The definition of "easy" seems to have changed since last I checked.
    • Good idea but.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by diskofish (1037768)
      Since a snapshot can be made of the site at any point in time, it is possible to go back and view the "legit" data. When you post something on the interweb, it could be there for good. One example: archive.org.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by COMON$ (806135)
        Exactly, People need to realize that once data hits a public facing server unsecured you can say goodby to any privacy. From that point on you will be archived, scraped, spidered, copied, pasted, jacked off to, daydreamed about, blogged, included in research, and a million other things you never intended to happen. Tell ya what consider anything you put on a server where the public has access Lost to the massive copying machine that is the web.

        But that is the way it should be, The internet was made to be

      • by mollymoo (202721) *
        Is archive.org in every network on facebook? That's the only way they should be able to see anybody's profile, by default. Of course, if you're not an idiot you turn viewing of your profile by your networks off - why on earth would I want everyone in the city I live in to be able to see my holiday snaps, know how I'm feeling and who my friends are?
    • This is a good idea and would indeed be effective. But why? Why should I have to go to these lengths to drop an account? Why can't they just drop it? A technical reason? A human ignorance reason? A human stubbornness reason? Why?
    • Re:Easy Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Thelasko (1196535) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:08AM (#22392182) Journal
      It's even easier. Simply violate all of the terms of service as possible. Upload images that are "inappropriate" and have your friends report you. Your info will be removed very quickly.
    • by mcmonkey (96054) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:32AM (#22392482) Homepage

      When you want to leave, start adding bogus data. Friend people you don't know. Change the bio data. Tag yourself in pictures you aren't in.

      Leaving Facebook sounds a lot like what I did when I joined Facebook.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      That's the easy solution?

      When you want to leave, start adding bogus data. Friend people you don't know. Change the bio data. Tag yourself in pictures you aren't in. Basically, generate random activity. Defriend your actual friends. Change your name. After a time, it becomes very difficult to determine what is real and what is fake.

      Or they could just provide a "delete my account" link like everyone else.
  • The one lesson (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Thus, the one true lesson about internet privacy: once it's out there, it's out there FOREVER.

    Be smart about what you put online and for pete's sake don't let anyone take naked photos of you, 'cuz they *will* end up online, and it will be *hilarious*.
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:32AM (#22391748)
    The Facebook Terms of Service can be found here [facebook.com].

    Here is an interesting excerpt:

    When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. Facebook does not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User Content.
    • "publicly perform"... that's scary. So they basically can take anyone's picture and use it to advertise the site anywhere they want and they don't have to pay for it... wow.
  • I remember reading a story about a guy who had a lot of activity at Facebook. Deactivation of the account is the basic way of saying good bye, but very ineffective since everything but your profile left. Here's what you must do to get rid of your account, THEN mail Facebook and ask for complete removal:

    1. Delete your photo
    2. Delete Comments and messages you wrote
    3. Delete your friends from your friends list.
    4. Leave all your networks and groups you have joined.
    5. Delete all your photo alb

    • Re:It's been done (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:46AM (#22391940)
      Here's what you must do to get rid of your account, THEN mail Facebook and ask for complete removal:

      1. Delete your photo
      2. Delete Comments and messages you wrote
      3. Delete your friends from your friends list.
      4. Leave all your networks and groups you have joined.
      5. Delete all your photo albums.


      Sounds like an awful lot of work. Here's an alternate suggestion...also a bit of work, but definitely more enjoyable.

      From the Facebook Terms of Service:

      In addition, you agree not to use the Service or the Site to:

      * harvest or collect email addresses or other contact information of other users from the Service or the Site by electronic or other means for the purposes of sending unsolicited emails or other unsolicited communications;
      * use the Service or the Site in any unlawful manner or in any other manner that could damage, disable, overburden or impair the Site;
      * use automated scripts to collect information from or otherwise interact with the Service or the Site;
      * upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;
      * upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any videos other than those of a personal nature that: (i) are of you or your friends, (ii) are taken by you or your friends, or (iii) are original art or animation created by you or your friends;
      * register for more than one User account, register for a User account on behalf of an individual other than yourself, or register for a User account on behalf of any group or entity;
      * impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent yourself, your age or your affiliation with any person or entity;
      * upload, post, transmit, share or otherwise make available any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, solicitations, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation;
      * upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make publicly available on the Site any private information of any third party, including, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, Social Security numbers and credit card numbers;
      * solicit personal information from anyone under 18 or solicit passwords or personally identifying information for commercial or unlawful purposes;
      * upload, post, transmit, share or otherwise make available any material that contains software viruses or any other computer code, files or programs designed to interrupt, destroy or limit the functionality of any computer software or hardware or telecommunications equipment;
      * intimidate or harass another;
      * upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available content that would constitute, encourage or provide instructions for a criminal offense, violate the rights of any party, or that would otherwise create liability or violate any local, state, national or international law;
      * use or attempt to use another's account, service or system without authorization from the Company, or create a false identity on the Service or the Site.
      * upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available content that, in the sole judgment of Company, is objectionable or which rest

      • by kalirion (728907)
        upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available content that would constitute, encourage or provide instructions for a criminal offense, violate the rights of any party, or that would otherwise create liability or violate any local, state, national or international law

        Haha, is there anything that could be posted without violating some law somewhere?
      • by bazorg (911295) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:31AM (#22392468) Homepage
        ah, yes... the goatse technique...
    • The reason that this is done is that when you 'deactivate' you can 'reactivate'. That's why they don't delete the information, in case you want to 'reactivate' your account.

      I was dealing with a minor facebook addiction last year and even after I deactivated my account I'd get bored after a while and reactivate it. I did exactly what you said. Deleted all my friends, changed all my personal information. Changed my e-mail address to a 10 minute e-mail and then deactivated

      Surprisingly when there's nothing to l
  • I'd like to see, if not an angry mob with pitchforks in front of Facebook's offices, at least an exodus of users from the service. We've lost so much privacy in the last 20 years with so little say in the matter.

    What could it do for the cause of privacy if people all left facebook over their various privacy abuses?

    And what would it do if no one seemed to care?

    • Re:Ditch facebook! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:51AM (#22392022)
      In case you haven't noticed... no one does care. That is... no one in the rest of the world. My brother and his friends (late 20s, some in their 30s) have just gotten into Facebook and think it's the greatest thing. Even if I told them about this story and explained that they could practically never remove their data from the site... "so what?" would be the response, I reckon.

      Of course that's only on small group of examples - but the rest of the world doesn't share the same privacy concerns as many here do. If you ask them though, of course they care - but would they do something about it or help to fix the issues? Nope.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FuzzyDaddy (584528)
        It's becoming an issue with real consequences. I've told the story before of the Argosy psychology student who was expelled because she was leading substance abuse support groups for her internship, and posted tales of her weekend drunken exploits online.

        The fact that this record is permanent adds to the importance of being careful what you put on line. My oldest is 8, and when she starts getting into this, it's a lesson I hope I can teach her. The tactic I've heard with parents who do allow their child

  • by obstalesgone (1231810) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:34AM (#22391788) Homepage
    When you hand over the info to Facebook, you agree to let them have it. Why on earth would they be expected to delete it?

    I agree that it seems unusual, and that maybe it's an unanticipated side-effect of giving your info to a social networking site that your data may persist forever, but I really don't think they're doing anything immoral.
    • by kellyb9 (954229)
      You're signing up for a service not a military draft. I, for one, think facebook exists to serve my purposes not their own. They obviously forgot that somewhere along the way.
      • "I, for one, think facebook exists to serve my purposes not their own. They obviously forgot that somewhere along the way."

        Is it really possible to be that naive, or are you just pulling my leg? Take an economics class and think some more about this. Here's a little Adam Smith to help you along: "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest."
  • Classmates.com is that way too. I finally just went in and changed my named to Yo Mamma, and my email to something like as*hole@f*ckoff.com. Finally I was free I thought, but later I had to dig deeper into my profile and change some other things, finally it died I guess...not really sure as I had already added classmates.com to my spam blacklist.
  • hating facebook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boxlight (928484) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:34AM (#22391800)
    I'm really starting to hate facebook. Friends have posted photos I want to see, other friends have commented on those photos and I want to read them. But I don't see any notifications on my main news feed about any of this. But I get tons of crap about vampires and I seem to get notified about people I don't know becoming friends with people I hardly know.

    Can someone suggest a cleaner, more useful alternative to facebook that I can try and talk all my friends into joining?
    • Re:hating facebook (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mushdot (943219) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:46AM (#22391938) Homepage

      Here's the best one for all your local friends to join: The Pub. It's great, you get to talk to each other face to face! I joined this group when I was about 15, and I've enjoyed it ever since. Only real friends join my group and we can buy each other REAL drinks.

      If you like you can write on the wall, but I don't think the publican will be too happy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by FredDC (1048502)

      Can someone suggest a cleaner, more useful alternative to facebook that I can try and talk all my friends into joining?

      Uh, how about meeting your friends at a *real* place?
    • by kaos07 (1113443)
      I have one: Life.
  • by Nooface (526234) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:36AM (#22391806) Homepage
    Oh, that's right...you cant't [slashdot.org].
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:48AM (#22391980)
      Funny in this context? Yes. Seriously though, Slashdot has a lot less information about its users than Facebook. You don't have real names, or pictures with people's real names, or graphs of who knows who and when they met, or anything to that effect on Slashdot. Using my Slashdot account or posting history, I'd be impressed if you could figure out where I live or go to school to within less than 300 miles; compare with Facebook, which has my real name and the name and location of my school.

      Not to be a fanboy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kjella (173770)
        Perhaps you have your slashdot account so compartmentalized from everything else that it doesn't matter to you, but it doesn't really take much to somewhere, somehow link it with your real identity. I know that somewhere in those 6000 comments I've probably made a lot of references that possibly when put together could be enough to ID me. Conversely, some of the people in real life knows my slashdot ID and if they open the door on that end it all gets pinned on me. And that doesn't take into account all the
        • That much is true, and I have made references to the state that I live in. Still, it is an entirely different level of data collection. Facebook tracks everything, and you MUST be logged in to even view the site. Slashdot is accessible to everyone, even when they aren't logged in, and there is no requirement that you supply any actual information about yourself. I do see your point, though.
    • by Daimanta (1140543)
      You dare to criticise Slashdot?! For that, your account will be deleted.
    • by kellyb9 (954229) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:52AM (#22392028)

      and how do you delete a SLASHDOT account?
      Who'd want to?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by coolGuyZak (844482)

        I wanted to, some 3 or so years ago, when I switched nicks. Why? I'd established a reasonable reputation with my previous account, and didn't want anyone to abuse the rep*.

        --
        * Plus, I like to keep my online aliases "clean", by deleting the ones I no longer use. I don't mind leaving the information up, so long as the account is inaccessible.

  • by Osurak (1013927) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:37AM (#22391818)
    I'm pretty impressed with their business model. To get the most out of a social network, you have to plug in as much data about yourself as possible, which point Facebook can turn around and either sell that information sell to advertisers, or use it to advertise to you directly. Even if you realize what's going on, you can't leave without feeling socially ostracized. And finally, even if you get past that, they won't delete your stuff anyway.

    Really, the only thing you can do to throw a wrench in the works is to falsify the entire contents of your profile. It would be very interesting to see if you could use that to influence the behavior of advertisers. For example, I wonder what would happen if every account suddenly added "Cowboy Neal" to the Interests field. Facebook bombing, anyone?
    • I wonder what would happen if every account suddenly added "Cowboy Neal" to the Interests field.

      They'd lose all their advertising revenue. Who wants a bunch of lunatics as their market?
  • Get over it.

    Which is why I don't do facebook, Linked In, myspace, or any other 'social networking' site.

    When I google my name (my real name, not 'wiredog') it returns zero results. I'm very happy about that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by lewko (195646)
      When I google my name (my real name, not 'wiredog') it returns zero results

      So, Mr Aoiuvoasihuashiuerqkaskjas, we meet at last!
  • This Just In! (Score:2, Informative)

    by n6kuy (172098)
    Information posted on The Internet is persistent!

  • Kicked out? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:39AM (#22391850)
    The worst part is that if you are permanently banned from the site, they still keep all your data on their servers. That is as low as they can get, because once banned a user cannot come back to delete their personal info, as they could if they voluntarily leave. The only real answer is to simply not use Facebook, at all. Flood it with false information to mask the real info., and then leave and never look back.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xaxa (988988)
      One possible solution is to ask them to delete your personal information under e.g. the UK Data Protection Act (which is essentially EU law, but I don't know the names for the laws in other countries).

      Wiki on the Data Protection Act [wikipedia.org]
      "5. Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes."

      Argue that once the account is deactivated the data is no longer necessary. Facebook has an office in London now (for sales, I think) so the
  • FINALLY! (Score:5, Informative)

    by kellyb9 (954229) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:40AM (#22391856)
    Finally, someone semi-credible has done a story about this. It's really about time. I've done just about everything to rid myself of their evil clutchs, but I have to go through thousands of records myself and delete everything. It would take an entire day to totally rid myself of facebook, and truth be told, I know my info would still be stored somewhere. When I wanted out of MySpace, I went in and pushed a button that said "delete account". If Facebook would just give me access to their databases, I'm sure I can get rid of my information in 10 minutes... and probably just about everything else. One word - EVIL.
    • by jacobw (975909)

      When I wanted out of MySpace, I went in and pushed a button that said "delete account".

      And how do you know that delete button really, truly deleted everything? Don't you think that MySpace has backups of their entire database somewhere? When you delete your account, do you think they go back and delete it from all the backups as well?

      Facebook's explanation for why they retain the data is, basically, "People close their accounts, and then they change their minds and want them reopened, and this way, we

    • by EricWright (16803)

      If Facebook would just give me access to their databases, I'm sure I can get rid of my information in 10 minutes... and probably just about everything else.

      You really think

      drop database facebook_db;
      would take 10 minutes?
  • by FliesLikeABrick (943848) <ryan@u13.net> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:41AM (#22391870)
    I deactivated my account a few years ago, once Facebook opened to high schools and (more recently) the general public. I never used it anyway, and it was turning into an annoyance.

    After deactivating the account, I saw that a lot of my information is still retained, and I'm CONSTANTLY getting e-mails from facebook saying "so and so wants to be your friend! reactivate your account!" and also messages from "Facebook" on AIM saying essentially the same.

    I really wish that they took the hint "If someone deactivates their account, odds are they want to stop being involved in the site"
    • by kalirion (728907)
      Reactivate your account and "update" the email address.
    • I really wish that they took the hint "If someone deactivates their account, odds are they want to stop being involved in the site"
      I think they took a different hint - "If someone deactivates their account, we might be able to convince them to come back, and lose nothing by annoying the shit out of them."
  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:41AM (#22391878)
    You mean that if I upload all kinds of personal information and data to a third party's web servers that I have no direct or even indirect control over, I might have trouble later removing that info at my whim?

    Seriously, even if Facebook did have a motivation for fully scrubbing users data when asked, I would think just Facebook employee incompetence would result in a certain percentage of information being left. And from Facebook's perspective, how many times do you think they have to deal with a user wanting everything they ever posted/uploaded gone forever one week, then wanting it all back and restored perfectly the next?

    If you don't want it in the public realm, don't upload it/post it. Simple as that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bockelboy (824282)
      Or live in Europe.

      Most of Europe, from my understanding, has very strict privacy policies regarding personal data. You must have data retention policies detailing when the information will automatically go away, always allow customers to opt out, and always allow customers to remove their data.

      Thank god we have freewheeling capitalism where companies can sell my personal data with no consequence.

      I'm sure someone can point out something wrong with the European system, but it sure is a whole hell of a lot be
      • by jayhawk88 (160512)
        This may be true, but the point is that there are all kinds of ways/reasons besides "Evil Facebook" that personal information can be remembered by the Internet. If it's so vitally important for Facebook to not remember your email address, perhaps you should give it to them in the first place.
    • by iangoldby (552781)
      Absolutely right.

      The focus on Facebook is really obscuring the main issue, which is that anything that you make public on the Internet remains public. Have people never heard of the Wayback Machine [archive.org] and other such services?

      Many of them may well have removal policies, but are you really going to know about every web server that holds a cache containing information about you, and go through the trouble of contacting the administrator of each one to get it removed? Forget it. Once it is public it remains public
  • Because They Can (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:42AM (#22391890)
    Facebook pulls this crap because they know most people are too lazy, stupid and/or indifferent to give a crap about what happens to their personal information. Those same people will be the first to whine about how unfair it is if they win a lottery and somebody tracks down their relatives and holds a child for ransom.
  • Deactivate doesn't deactivate accounts. I still receive friends requests. Maybe I'm just too popular and facebook can't handle all the friends requests that are sent my way.
  • From what I understand about Facebook's policies, it's probably easier to get kicked off than it is to have them delete your information. Just post pornography in your photo albums.
  • by Urger (817972) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:50AM (#22392004) Homepage
    Is it True?
    All Night Long I was worried about this. Is my privacy Already Gone? It made me feel like a Certain Kind of Fool to think that I had put my personal data on a site that would Take It To The Limit in terms of giving away info about me. The Outlaw Man that runs Facebook has erased my Peaceful Easy Feeling. In The Long Run, After the Thrill is Gone, Facebook will learn. Untill then, I won't Get Over It and I Can't Tell You Why.

    I've run out of Eagle's songs now....
  • by sherriw (794536) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:31AM (#22392476)
    Your data isn't just in Facebook's servers, but also potentially those of all the third part apps you've ever added to your profile. I've stripped out all my personal info so my profile is bare bones... but it's kinda too late since I had it in there before.

    Not just personal data, but your relationship to all your friends list. If you 'went to school with' so and so, then it's easy to find out what school you went to based on what school your friend went to. If you have cousins on there... odds are one of them has a last name the same as your mother's maiden name. Yeah... the 'how do you know this person' info is bad too.
  • by Pazy (1169639)
    Personally they can keep my account all they want, If I have it avalible to the world then its out there already. Since I started using the internet ive known not to put anything anywhere you dont want publicically avalible forever.
    Though as for Facebooks right to do this? I dont think so. They may have some sort of backward legal right to do this but if thats the case someone needs to get some sort of action together to stop it. If not they will end up simply licencing the data off to companies, if anyones
  • I'm surprised no one has written an extension for firefox or something that will automatically delete your information
  • Friendfinder, the dating service, (AFF, alt.com, etc.) was notorious for this. Most of the profiles on their sites were of people who were no longer members. Good-looking photos stayed on the site for years after account termination. It took a lawsuit to stop that.

  • by matt me (850665) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @11:38AM (#22392570)
    Facebook is a black hole, yet facebook leaks information to the outside. Thanks, Hawking!
  • A few good programmers could likely write a handful of scripts that create fake Facebook accounts, and effectively spoil their data. If even a small percentage of the total users' data are false, can you trust any of the data?

    And what the hell are people doing putting seriously private data on a public server anyway? Have the past TWO DECADES of internet privacy violation news stories not been an educator for the general populous? If you put something on someone else's server, it's their data. You screwed u
  • The Slashdot headline is completely wrong. A black hole [wikipedia.org] destroys all information that it receives; it never releases it [wikipedia.org].
  • While Facebook still allows you to remove your information (but they need a grace period for archive/backup because otherwise it's a great way to sue -- kill your information, sue them next day because 7 day backups would STILL have your info), Electronic Arts doesn't allow removal AT ALL.
    Here's what their "support" replies to question on how to remove account:

    Thank you for contacting Electronic Arts.

    Unfortunately a registration code can only be used to create one account. If it has been used to register an
  • Bah (Score:3, Funny)

    by tm2b (42473) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:54PM (#22393630) Journal
    Just start adding Church of Scientology documents to your profile.

    "Let's you and them fight."
  • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:06PM (#22393796)
    Anyone who posts gobs of personal information online and then complains about privacy is an idiot. Perhaps those same people would be interested in this money making scheme I have.... Seriously, I have always avoided MySpace, FaceBook, insert social network here, for that very reason. I don't even use my real name on public e-mail accounts and messaging programs (AIM, MSN, Hotmail, etc). The Internet is *not* private. It's a giant billboard in the middle of freaking Times Square. If you put your personal info up there, anyone can walk by and see it.

    I'm not sure why people are so surprised to find out that FaceBook doesn't care. This just in - those social networks don't actually exist for *your* benefit. They are there to make money (although their business plans are sometimes a bit dubious...).
  • A Black Hole? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:39PM (#22394202) Homepage
    So all private information remains safely trapped inside it? That's good, right?

    ( =P )

Time sharing: The use of many people by the computer.

Working...