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Facebook A Black Hole For Personal Info 242

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."
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Facebook A Black Hole For Personal Info

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  • 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!
  • 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 Nooface ( 526234 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:36AM (#22391806) Homepage
    Oh, that's cant't [].
  • 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.
  • by FliesLikeABrick ( 943848 ) <> 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 kellyb9 ( 954229 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:42AM (#22391894)
    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.
  • 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 TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @10:55AM (#22392058)
    Here's the rub:

    You may remove your 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.

    The legal question here is: what is the definition of an "archive", as the term is used by Facebook?
  • 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.
  • 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: []

    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: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. []
  • 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.
  • by coolGuyZak ( 844482 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:28PM (#22393236)

    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.

  • Re:Good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joe_in_63640 ( 1228646 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:26PM (#22394048) Journal
    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 right. Oh - and never forget to read the Fine Print BEFORE you sign up.
  • Re:Kicked out? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @03:21PM (#22395570)
    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 []
    "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 they need to comply with the law here.

    And if you aren't a UK citizen, just join the London network and pretend.

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