How to flee the Facebook frenzy
Want a short respite from Facebook? A clean break? Here's what to do.
With more than half a billion members and 900 million community pages, Facebook offers a world of online distractions. Yet for all the social network's virtues – family photos, enthusiast groups, and an inexhaustible stream of friend updates – Facebook still exudes the faint odor of its potential ills – privacy concerns, replacing human interactions with digital small talk, and an incessant stream of I-don't-really-know-you updates.Skip to next paragraph
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Many campaigns have called for users to outright delete their accounts. "For a lot of people, quitting Facebook revolves around privacy," says QuitFacebookDay.com. "This is a legitimate concern, but we also think the privacy issue is just the symptom of a larger set of issues." The website claims 37,700 members have committed to quit, though there's no way to confirm signatories actually bit the bullet. And the group's rallying page on Facebook reports 8,499 "like" this campaign, but everyone in that tally is still an active Facebook user.
For most people, deleting a Facebook account is the nuclear option. The site is often more fun than it is troubling – more convenient than annoying. Still, if you're not totally happy, here are some ways to mitigate Facebook's frustrations – such as how to put your account on ice, how to block certain annoying users, and how to see exactly how much dirt Facebook has on you.
Take a break: In late August, pastor Kerry Shook in Woodlands, Texas, lit up the blogosphere with his call for a "Facebook Fast." Take a 24-hour break from regular online life, he said, and reflect on what really matters. Mr. Shook's no technophobe. He has a healthy following on both Facebook and Twitter and updates those accounts regularly. But for one day, he said, "write a handwritten letter or card and mail it. Meet up with a friend for a face-to-face conversation."
If you're looking for a longer-term vacation from Facebook, the social network offers a way to shelve your account without tossing all the hard work you've put in over the years.
"Deactivating" an account saves your friends lists, photos, and profile information but keeps them completely hidden from other users.
The process only takes a few clicks. From Facebook, cruise to your Account tab in the top right corner and click on Account Settings. Then, choose the bottom option, Deactivate Account. After a goofy appeal for you to stay, Facebook asks why you decided to leave and whether you want to message any friends that "will miss you."