Earlier this week I stumbled across the Disinfo.com site, which has a number of interesting stories attached to it. Disinformation published a series of eyebrow-raising books, including Everything You Know Is Wrong and 50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know.
I wanted to comment on a piece, which required registration. No biggie, right? We all know the drill. Enter your name, email address and a little blurb about yourself if you like and you've got a comment account and can leave a comment. Some sites require you to visit your email first to confirm.
I did the usual, entering a minimal amount of personal information, and BANG! automatically found myself on Facebook having just started an account. At no point in the registration process for Disinfo.com commenting was it made clear that registering to leave a comment was an agreement to open a Facebook account, which is at the very least a serious breach of netiquette. (It is possible that somewhere in the fine print of the site's bowels this information is available, but it most certainly is not made evident in the registration process that you are opening a Facebook and not just a Disinfo account; it dumps you into right into Facebook proper after entering your email address and name.)
Some of us can't stand Facebook (this could be the subject of a whole other post), and are aware of the difficulties in ending a Facebook account. I was happy to have come this far without any of my email addresses linked to a site that I consider one of the Great Satans of the modern age, and there's some irony in the fact that a website that claims to be against "the Man" and in favor of the open flow of information is what tricked me into opening an account.
This would be in the same league as trying to post a comment on Wikileaks and finding out that you entered your name with the local draft board.
When attempting to use the Help page on Facebook to learn how to delete an account, one is confronted with bullshit messages that Facebook Help "can't find" what you're looking for, even if/when clicking on the phrase "How can I delete my Facebook account?" Clearly we're dealing with a shady organization.
Fortunately one can use an independent search engine to find out what to do. Ironically the top reference is on a guy's Facebook page, a Catch-22 which will become evident in a moment.
The link is http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account
"Click "Submit" and follow the instructions.
Your account will be deactivated for two weeks, and if you DO NOT USE FACEBOOK IN ANY WAY during that period, your account is permanently deleted.
I REPEAT: Your profile isn't deleted right away! You must NOT log in to, or interact in any other way with Facebook for at least two weeks, as it will cancel the deletion request. That includes NOT logging in to Facebook using any client (like the iPhone app or IM:s like Pidgin), NOT clicking embedded Like-buttons on other websites, NOT logging in to other services using Facebook Connect (like Digg) etc etc.
Hey, while your're at it, delete all your browsing/forms history and cookies as well, to minimize the risk of accidentally using your account!
If you want out - stay out, mmmkay? ;)"
The tricky bit here is that, like Disinfo, one has to wonder how many sites directly link to Facebook without letting the user know in any obvious way.
I used to have some respect for the Disinfo people, but this stunt really makes them come off like assholes. I sent a form in telling them as much, lord knows if that will have any effect.