Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (especially with Facebook)

So you wish to remove your Facebook account.  The process consists of visiting your “account” tab (upper right hand corner of your FB screen), clicking on “account settings,” and then clicking on “deactivate” at the bottom of the screen showing under the “settings” tab.  .  .

Now reflect on what is strange in the following discourse routine:

Before following your instruction, FB makes an argument inviting you to second guess yourself, asking “Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?” and warning that deactivating your account will disable your profile and remove your name and picture from everything you have shared on FB.

What follows is an array of images of friends from your friend’s list, attached to each is a comment that implies disapproval of your intention, and an injunction to provide an explanation:

Dawn will miss you.  Send Dawn a message

Anthony will miss you. Send Anthony a message

Wendy will miss you. Send Wendy a message.




In fact, you cannot leave FB without giving it a reason for your action by clicking on one of a list of buttons that explains your behavior in FB’s terms or that asks you to provide further explanation.  Clicking on one of these buttons, you are met with a dialogue box that explains how you can address your problem without leaving FB.

Soldiering on undeterred, you click to “confirm” that you wish to deactivate your FB account.   FB then asks you to retype your password, and then, after confirming your password, to enter two coded words it provides for you in a second “security check.”  Submitting the matching security check words will finally succeed in “deactivating” your account, which FB confirms with the following message:

“Your account has been deactivated.  To reactivate you account, log in using your old login email and password. You will be able to use the site like you used to [!]”

So after running the gauntlet of hurdles to get disconnected, you find that “deactivating” your account is akin to simply logging off a session. And when you log on to FB the next time you will see that all of your pictures, profile, and history of activity remain as if never disturbed.  You discover that when FB threatens to “remove your name and picture from everything you have shared on FB,” what it means by “remove” is just to cover (some) things until you log back in.

That is, when FB threatens you with removing your name and picture, it means pretty much just that: even after you are “deactivated,” all of your messages on FB remain on your correspondents’ message boards, though instead of being accompanied by your profile picture, there is only the ghostly shadow of the picture that once inhabited the spot.  Other people’s photos of you remain, even those in which you are tagged.  Depending on your or your friends’ privacy settings, even such things as your status updates and comments in the News Feed stay put.  In fact, FB tells you that your friends can invite you to events, tag you in photos, and ask you to join groups, despite your being deactivated (you can click a special button to disable this function as well).

In the final analysis, “deactivating” doesn’t even make as much of a ripple as adding a new friend or clicking a “like” button: there is not even of word of it on your “Recent Activity.”  Your removal and reinstatement has been processed without even a whisper to your friends.

 What assumptions and inferences can we make about FB in order to make this scenario seem more understandable?