This says it all about public reaction to Facebook's new privacy settings. One of Google's top trending searches this week is "How do I delete my Facebook account". No, I'm not kidding. Apparantly, a significant number of Facebook users aren't kidding either.
For the record, I'm hanging onto my account (I worked really hard on that "Flair" collection). But, I certainly understand why so many are feeling that they have no other choice.
Wanting to extract yourself from Facebook is no easy task, however. Somewhere in all of this is a Federal Witness Protection program joke. But, I'll cut to the chase instead.
You basically have two (sorta three, I'll get there) options: Deactivate your account, delete your account or go to an outside party to help you "no longer exist" on Facebook (if you can find one still allowed to operate).
Deactivate your account
This is the easiest option. Simply click on "Account" on the upper right side of the screen. Click on "Account Settings". The option to "Deactivate" is the last setting on the list under the "Settings" tab.
Easy, no? Yup, too easy. The good news is it's easy to come back if you change your mind. Facebook saves all your stuff and its waiting there to be reactivated.
You are not dead. You are just in a Facebook coma.
Delete your account
If you want to end it all, be warned. There's no such thing as a quick Facebook death. It takes two weeks. A deactivated account is deleted in two weeks.
If you want to make your intentions known up front and sign up to be deleted, it still takes two weeks!
But remember, it still takes two weeks. If you reactivate, click on any Facebook updates that hit your inbox like friend requests, etc. then fuhgedaboudit. You just re-upped yourself for another two weeks. You have to flatline all contact with Facebook directly or indirectly for two weeks.
Here's the bad news. After all that, you are dead only in the Princess Bride sense (mostly dead). You may finally be expunged from Facebook, but your Facebook past is still cached and archived in web sites and search engines allover the Internet. Welcome to true immortality, virtual as it may be.
Option #3: You can go to a third party site that specializes in helping people commit "suicide" on Facebook. The two best known sites are "Seppukoo.com" and "The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine". Facebook attorneys are wallpapering these sites with cease and desist letters right now. The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine is currently down claiming it was hacked and rendered dead in the water.
What these sites do, or did, is merely deactivate your account for you. So, they don't make you anymore "dead" than the options above. What's helpful is that they automate notices to all your Facebook friends sending them your last will and testament and forwarding address in Web 2.0 heaven. Seppakoo even puts up a memorial page for you on Facebook where your friends can go for your Facebook wake. Nice, eh?
Last word: whether online or offline, go have a life!
P.S. You're welcome to follow me on Twitter @oricchio
Last updated: May 14, 2010
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio