Yo, Facebook: Delete this

Killing your Facebook account is much harder than it should be -- as Jason Calacanis discovered. Facebook needs to fix this problem, too.

Let me start by paraphrasing the eminently wise Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) from “Burn Notice”: “You know bloggers. Bunch of bitchy little girls.”

Axe was talking about spies, but the sentiment applies equally well to the blogosphere. Today’s example: the hair-pulling, face-clawing cat fight between TechCrunch and Weblogs Inc. founder Jason Calacanis over whether he really deleted his Facebook account.

You can read all about it here, but I’ll save you the trouble by summarizing.

Calacanis made a big show of saying he was quitting Facebook over its privacy policies last month. TechCrunch decided to check up on Calacanis to find out if he really did it. They discovered his FB account was still active. They called him on it. Calacanis responded by claiming some third-party site must have reactivated his account without his realizing it. TechCrunch contacted Facebook to get their side of the story. Amazingly, they actually got a response. Here’s what Facebook spokespoodle Elliot Schrage had to say:

“Just to repeat — the only way someone would be able to log back in to Facebook or another website with their Facebook information is if they had cancelled their deletion request before the 14 day window expired. This would NOT happen if some third party site automatically pings your profile.”

I’ve written in the past about how Schrage doesn’t seem to know how Facebook really works, so I decided to see if he was also being clueless/deliberately misleading this time.

Using one of the pseudo Facebook accounts I keep for situations just like this, I logged onto the Disqus comment software on eSarcasm using Facebook Connect. A few clicks later and I was connected. Up popped my comment, along with my bogus Facebook avatar, on the eSarcasm page.

I then deleted my fake Facebook account. I went back to eSarcasm and logged out of Disqus. I added a new comment to another post and used the Facebook Connection option to log back into Disqus using my “deleted” account. Voila, my Facebook account was restored. 

esarcasm disqus facebook reactivate

Now, I’d have to be a complete idiot to not realize that my Facebook account had been restored. But at no point was I warned that I was reactivating an account I had deleted. It’s not quite the same as a third-party site reactivating that account by pinging it, but it’s close.

Just to be sure, I repeated these steps with Facebook Connect on Huffington Post’s comment system. This time, I did receive a screen asking me if I still wanted to deactivate my account (though I have to say, it’s pretty obtuse – hitting “cancel request” ends up reactivating your account, not canceling your current action.)

huffpo facebook connect

Conclusion: How Facebook deals with third-party software reactivating accounts is inconsistent at best. But how Facebook handles account deletions is still really really crappy. 

So it’s clearly possible that Calacanis was telling the truth, not that I really give a damn about him or TechCrunch or their bitchy little squabble. But it’s clear that Facebook still doesn’t understand how Facebook really works. Isn’t it about time they learned?

Author Dan Tynan tries to quit Facebook at least once a day. The rest of the time he tends his snark garden at eSarcasm. Follow him on Twitter (if you dare): @tynan_on_tech.

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