Quitting Facebook: What Happens When You Deactivate?

Tech blog says more seem to be searching for how to delete Facebook accounts.

ByABC News
May 10, 2010, 4:15 PM

May 11, 2010 -- For most of us, it will likely never be more than an idle threat. But what happens if you actually do decide to sign off from Facebook -- for good?

Frustrated by privacy changes or perhaps simply overwhelmed by the non-stop online chatter, Facebook users sometimes say it's time to go cold turkey. But a few really do follow through.

After Facebook's most recent changes and the discovery of a (now-fixed) security hole that let users see friends' chats, complaints from Facebook users erupted last week in comment threads and even a dedicated protest page on the site.

But Peter Rojas, co-founder of the popular user-generated gadget site gdgt, announced on Twitter that he was actually going to cut the cord.

"I was spending more time managing my account than actually using my account," he toldABCNews.com. "Having to constantly monitor the privacy settings was way too complicated. You can never be sure if you actually caught everything."

Rojas said that though he never expected others in the tech community to respond to his action, he thinks the Facebook privacy issue is a big one.

"I'm happy to use the site, but I don't want to be sharing my private updates [and] personal information with other Web sites," he said.

After hitting the "deactivate" button listed under "Account Settings," he said the site tried to convince him to stay.

Before completing the process, Facebook asks the question "Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?" and displays pictures of a few friends, captioned with the lines "[Friend's name here] will miss you."

"It just seemed really desperate in a way that Facebook doesn't need to be desperate," he said.

Maybe someone at Facebook thought it might be a clever way to bid departing users farewell, he said, but it "just seems kind of weird to be so almost pathetic. They certainly don't need to do that. It's not like they're hemorrhaging users."

But according to the tech blog Search Engine Land, more and more people seem to be at least curious about how to delete their Facebook pages.

Tech Blog: More People Searching for How to Delete Facebook Accounts

In a blog post Monday, editor-in-chief Danny Sullivan said that while doing a "how do I" search on Google he noticed that "how do I delete my facebook account" was one of the top suggested search topics.

According to Google, suggested search topics are based on the queries of others and are determined algorithmically without human intervention. The popularity of search terms is one of the factors used in the algorithm.

To see how recent the Facebook trend was, Sullivan used Google Trends, which shows the popularity of certain searches over certain periods of time.

Although there was not enough search volume for "how do I delete my facebook account," he said he found something interesting when he entered "delete facebook account."

"Yes, there is definitely a rising trend," he wrote. "Over time, more and more searches at Google have involved it, it appears."

He also wrote that if you start typing in "delete" into the Google search box, the first suggested topic is "delete facebook account."

Facebook gives users the option to deactivate or delete their accounts, though listed under "Account Settings," the deactivate option is much easier to locate. To find the delete option, users have to search for the option in the site's "Help Center."