After much ballyhoo in the past, Facebook made it easy to deactivate your account….and reactivate it! In fact when deactivating one of the choices in the multiple available is “This is temporary. I’ll be back.” It is so easy and fast that you could well use it instead of logging out. There is a very minor delay when logging in as Facebook informs you that “we are reactivating your account” and then everything you had is just where you left it. Too easy. If you are worried about what is “happening on Facebook” while you are on holiday, just deactivate instead of logging out before you leave to go somewhere offline, even if it is for a few hours!
Oh. So in fact the account is never deleted. Much like photos you upload which are always available throught their direct link. Which is why Facebook says “deactivate” instead of delete. All they are doing is adding a tag in their database not to show stuff you own. Well what if everyone deactivated their accounts instead of logging off everytime? It would be like an optical illusion as comments would disappear from threads of conversations, rendering them meaningless. You would know when someone is online because they will all reappear. You would have 6 friends (awake – logged in) at 4am and 150 by lunchtime.
Interfaces are in fact well suited to analogies with biology. With such an enormous number of users they adapt or die. Facebook is sure to make it harder to deactivate your account. They will introduce an artificial delay to reactivating or add some hoops when you try to deactivate. Otherwise we will all be confusing privacy advocates by deactivating every time like me.