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Questioning Facebook

By Ben King

Updated on 19 November 2007

We asked the social networking website's team why it's so difficult to erase yourself from Facebook.

When Channel 4 News learned from a viewer how difficult it was to permanently delete an account from the site, we were keen to put a number of questions to Facebook.

Facebook's public relations team weren't able to arrange an interview on data protection for Channel 4 News, but they did answer some of our questions by email. Here's the questionnaire in full:

Channel 4 News: To get "all information removed from your servers", you say you need to delete all profile content. What exactly does that include? Does it include wall posts, notes, application links, photos, tag on other people's photos, network membership?

Facebook spokesman: Yes, deleting all profile content includes deleting wall posts, notes, photos, etc...

Channel 4 News: How long do you expect it to take for the average user? A heavy facebook user could take hours to do all that.

Facebook spokesman: We don't speculate on the amount of time that it takes for someone to remove this information as it is dependent on how.

Channel 4 News: Do you have a prodecure if someone wants to delete in an emergency - eg. a minor who has been posting without parent's permission, or a victim of cyberbullying?

Facebook spokesman: For users that do not want their information displayed on the site any more, they are able to deactivate their accounts which is effective immediately.

We encourage users to report any abuse on the site and any harassing content on the site is removed.

Channel 4 News: Why is there no quicker method available for normal users who decide to leave Facebook? (No answer)

Channel 4 News: Is it because of they way the site is designed/coded? (No answer)

Channel 4 News: What do you do with the information of people who deactivate but don't fully expunge themselves from the servers? Could it be used in your advertising projects (such as the Sprite/Coca-Cola deal announced the other day) in any way?

Facebook spokesman: Facebook does not use any information from deactivated accounts for advertising purposes.

Channel 4 News: Do you believe yourselves to be covered by the provisions of the UK data protection act? And do you believe that your current policies are in compliance with that act?

Facebook spokesman: Facebook gives users the notice that the UK Data Protection Act requires in order to inform them about what information is collected. We also give users granular control over what information they share and who they share it with.

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