Until just a few days ago, some Facebook users could not delete their accounts — the option to do so simply didn’t work. After VentureBeat reached out to Facebook regarding the issue, an engineer was able to squash the bug.
Every few months, there’s a new Facebook scandal that results in a #deletefacebook campaign. This year, long before the Cambridge Analytica trainwreck, I decided to document the process and ultimately ended up writing a quick guide on how to delete your Facebook account (Note: Coincidentally, Facebook yesterday increased the time it takes to delete accounts from 14 days to 30 days).
That was in March. Two weeks ago, I got an email from a VentureBeat reader who couldn’t delete his Facebook account. He claimed there were others also having issues — no matter what they tried, they simply could not delete Facebook.
I didn’t believe him at first.
We receive plenty of complaints sent to our tips line, from basic IT support requests to outrageous claims. But this person told me he had tried using three different browsers, his phone, and at least one other computer; had contacted Facebook multiple times; and was even considering hiring a lawyer.
I did my due diligence. The least I could do was help him delete his account.
Upon request, the reader was gracious enough to let me log into his Facebook account so I could see for myself. No matter what I tried, and regardless of which browser I used, the Facebook help page for deleting your account would not load when logged into his account:
Log out, loads fine. Log back in, blank page.
Fixed for all Facebook users
I got in touch with Facebook and explained the situation. The user was unable to get anything beyond a boilerplate response from anyone at the company. Because PR representatives are expected to get back to reporters asking questions, however, we quickly made progress.
After providing the Facebook spokesperson with the user’s email address for his account, the issue was finally resolved. It turns out the bug in question affected people with accounts that had “a large number of posts” — when they tried deleting their account, Facebook would call up the number of posts that would also need to be deleted. If the call was taking too long because of the large number of posts, the user would be presented with a blank page and not be able to proceed.
The Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the company was aware of at least one other user who had experienced the exact same bug, but did not provide an estimate of how many others might be affected overall. There’s no easy way of gauging this figure since, well, most Facebook users don’t go ahead and try to delete their accounts.
Bottom line: Whether you’re concerned about the latest Facebook scandal (50 million accounts hacked) or if you tried deleting your Facebook account at some point and couldn’t get it to work, there is now one fewer obstacle in your path. If you’re still having problems, let me know.