Escaping Facebook isn’t easy

Removing yourself from the site and protecting your privacy is nearly impossible.

In this free market, you are a target. And as young people, we’re most likely to spend money unnecessarily. We’re likely to shop online, use credit cards and join social networking sites. We leave behind a huge trail that tells marketers and advertisers who we are as individuals.

If you’re a Facebook member, your account information could be available indefinitely. It provides a picture of who you are: what movies you watch, what music you like, what books you read. The harvesting of this information could be abused and misused.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that it’s nearly impossible to remove yourself from Facebook. Users can deactivate their account, but Facebook’s servers still retain copies of account information.

One man deactivated his account and spent two months e-mailing Facebook’s customer service requesting they remove his information. He threatened legal action and finally his information was removed.

But alas, after all that effort, a reporter still found him and e-mailed him, the article reported.

The steps to completely remove yourself from the site are tedious and complicated. You would have to delete every piece of data associated with the account – all wall posts, messages, photos and profile information. After that, deactivate the account and e-mail Facebook requesting your account be deleted.

The information an account can provide is invaluable to marketers, especially after the launch of the network’s Beacon advertisement features. The application can track and share items a Facebook member purchases on sites other than its own.

The site knows where you shop, where you eat, what your habits are, where you live. Yet, because it requires a password, we might feel a sense of privacy.

Sites like Facebook and Amazon have an interest in exploiting how we spend our money. If they know what it is we value, crave and love, they know what we’ll buy.