Want to Delete Your Facebook Account? Here’s How

Facebook‘s come in for a lot of criticism lately, and one of the biggest is that it collects a massive amount of personal information on each of its users and uses that information for its ad targeting. Then there’s the fact that the social network became a tool for a large number of Russian operatives to spread fake news and ill feeling during the 2016 election cycle, and it’s still being used that way today. And the fact that early executives say Facebook was deliberately designed to suck up as much of your time as possible.

Or maybe you’re just sick of wading through funny animal videos and inspirational sayings set against sunsets and mountains. Whatever the reason, you’ve had enough of Facebook and you want out.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Here are your options for getting out of Facebook, depending on exactly what you want to have happen and, frankly, how much time you have to invest in the process. None of this is as easy as it should be, but here’s how to do it:

1. If you just want to cure your Facebook addiction, consider logging out.

If all you want is to spend less time on Facebook, then the simplest and easiest thing to do is simply log out of your account and delete the Facebook app from all your devices (or if even that seems like too much, log out of your account there too and turn off all notifications from Facebook). 

There are a few drawbacks to this approach. First, your Facebook friends who are accustomed to communicating with you there won’t know what’s become of you so you might want to post on your news feed that you’re going away for a while (or forever). Second, if you’re concerned about all the data Facebook is holding onto about you…well, all that data will still be there. If you’re concerned that a prospective employer or date will look you up on Facebook and find embarrassing information or photos, logging out won’t change that either. But at least you won’t be adding any more embarrassing content.

2. If you don’t want to be found on Facebook, consider deactivating your account.

Deactivating your account is a completely reversible step that will hide you and most of your information from searches on Facebook (although your name may still show up in your friends’ list of friends or in messages you’ve sent). If your main concern is to avoid having a prospective employer or your ex find you on Facebook, deactivation may be the best option. You can change your mind and reactivate your account at any time, and everything will be right where you left it.

For something with few consequences, deactivating your account on Facebook ought to be easier than it is. Go to settings on Facebook (via the drop-down arrow on the upper right corner of the page). Choose General Account Settings if Facebook doesn’t take you there by default. Click “Manage Your Account,” the bottom item on the list. 

From there, choose “Deactivate Your Account.” You’ll have to enter your password to continue. After that, even though Deactivation is completely reversible, Facebook will ask you if you’re really sure. Just to make deactivation tougher. It will remind you that your (however many) Facebook friends will no longer be able to keep in touch with you. (Facebook assumes you don’t have their email addresses or phone numbers). On top of that, it will show you photos of a few of your friends, declaring that each of them “will miss you.”

Assuming that’s not enough to change your mind, it will ask you to fill out a short survey explaining why you’re deactivating your account. Take note that by default, even when your account is deactivated, Facebook will go right on sending you emails whenever someone invites you to an event or tags you in a photo. If you don’t want that, you’ll have to opt out here. Once you do all that, your Facebook account will be deactivated–until the next time you log in. And of course, Facebook will go right on keeping all your data.

3. If you don’t want Facebook keeping your data, and you’re sure you won’t be back, go all the way and delete your account.

Deleting your account really isn’t easy and comes with a couple of extra drawbacks. Chief among these is that you’ll also be shut out of any apps you’ve linked to Facebook for your sign in. Fortunately, Facebook will tell you which apps those are. Go into Settings and click “Apps” in the left-hand column.

I was completely blown away when I tried this. I usually avoid having apps use my Facebook log-in but even so, I had 82 apps listed as linked to my Facebook account. Many of them were apps I hadn’t thought about or used in years. If you want to continue using your linked apps, you may have to adjust your account settings on those apps to use an email-and-password log-in, or use some other platform to sign in, such as Google or Twitter. Spotify is particularly problematic, though–it won’t let you decouple your Facebook profile. If you truly want to delete your Facebook account, you’ll need to create a new Spotify account.

Also, if you want to retain a record of your activity (photos, posts, etc.) on Facebook even after your account is gone, you will likely want to download your activity before you delete your account. Back in your account settings, at the bottom of the page, you will see an option to “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” Click that–you’ll have to enter your password again–and then click “Start My Archive.” When Facebook has finished gathering up your data, it will send you an email with a link to download it. That link has a time limit, so make sure to download your info it soon after you receive it.

Once you’re finally ready to delete your account, your next challenge is to figure out how to do it. It’s not obvious so the easiest way to find out is to click the quick help icon (question mark) on the upper right. That will lead you to a search box where you can type in “delete account.” You’ll find an article titled “How do I permanently delete my account?”

The article first reminds you that you won’t be able to reactivate your account and then suggests that you download your data (see above). After that it says if you truly want to delete your account with no possibility of recovery, “log into your account and let us know.” Those last three words are a link that takes you to a page to delete your account and asks you one more time if you’re sure. Put in your password, enter the captcha, and you’ve started the process.

You’ll have to wait a bit, though. Facebook will delay for a few days (as though you were purchasing a gun?) to make sure you really, really mean it. If you log into Facebook, even accidentally through a mobile app, during that time your delete will be undone. If you’re careful to stay off Facebook, though, eventually your deletion will go through. And while some information, such as your name and your messages to others may remain on the social network, most of the personal information about you will finally be off Facebook’s servers.

4. Or, stick with Facebook from beyond the grave.

Of course, Facebook doesn’t want any of this. It wants to hang on to your information forever. So it has a suggestion for you: Leave your Facebook account to someone after you’re gone. In fact, this is the first suggestion that comes up under “Manage Your Account.” Facebook calls this a “legacy contact.”

If you prefer not to be a ghost on Facebook after you yourself are gone, you can request that Facebook delete your account as soon as someone notifies the company of your demise. But only after it asks you a few times if you’re really, really sure.

A Dog Died on United Airlines. This Passenger’s Brilliant Social Strategy Is Why It Went Viral

By now you may have heard about the woman who was ordered by a United Airlines flight attendant Monday to put her pet carrier in an overhead bin–with her dog inside it–and who was horrified when the flight landed to discover that the dog had died.

In fact, my colleague Chris Matyszczyk wrote about this earlier, and it’s been all over the media today. The original force behind the story, however, is a fellow passenger who was on the flight named Maggie Gremminger, who tells me she was “heartbroken” by the incident–and who not coincidentally, also happens to run social media feeds for a living.

I tracked down Gremminger in New York and spoke with her by phone–making me the first journalist who talked with her directly, she said, as opposed to sharing her social media posts or communicating via email or Twitter.

Below, we’ll explain what happened on the flight, along with Gremminger’s super-effective social strategy. It’s a tragic and horrible situation, and it’s also very instructive in that she displayed four key tenets that helped her get an important message out quickly, and be heard above the clutter. 

Specifically, it’s the passion with which Gremminger told the story, the immediacy with which she got it out to the world, the direction she provided on social media, and the sheer determination she displayed, clawing and fighting her way to get it in front of as many media outlets, as quickly as possible.

In the end, it became one of the most-talked about stories today, and also resulted in a no-holds barred apology from United, which said that it “assum[es] full responsibility for this tragedy.”

Flight 1284

First, Gremminger’s perspective–beyond what she included in her social media posts.

She was traveling back to New York from California Monday night, with a stop in Houston. She was already settled in Seat 24A when a mother carrying an infant, accompanied by her daughter, tried to get set up in the row ahead of her.

As the woman got situated, a flight attendant noticed her bag on the floor, and told her she’d have to move it to the overhead bin.

“The woman was adamant that she did not want to be moving it up there,” Gremminger recounted. “I heard [her] tell the flight attendant that it was her dog. She wanted to leave it there because it was her dog.”

However, the flight attendant apparently either didn’t understand or didn’t care, Gremminger said. So, the woman put the bag–which Gremminger said she now clearly saw was a black dog carrier with mesh–in the overhead bin.

Gremminger said she sensed that that the woman was reluctant, but she couldn’t get into an argument with the cabin crew:

A mother with an infant baby and a daughter–she didn’t want conflict, and attention, and to risk not getting home. … She didn’t seem to feel like she wanted a drawn-out, confrontational thing. She was trying to respect authority, and she has an infant and another daughter. She was frazzled but she went along and complied.

‘Poor puppy, he’s scared’

The dog didn’t bark at first, and the airplane filled up. Gremminger said she was torn. It didn’t seem right to put a dog in the overhead bin, she thought, but she also wondered if maybe the flight attendant knew something she didn’t. Maybe it was okay?

“I started Googling. I don’t know if there’s a ventilation thing up there or anything,” she said. But before she could find an answer, “we had to turn our phones off.”

The flight took off at 6:18 p.m., and Gremminger said she heard the dog bark a couple of times. She and some other passengers exchanged looks, she said, as if to say, “poor puppy, he’s scared.”

Then about 20 or 30 minutes into the flight, they heard the dog bark a bit more, and then fall silent. It wasn’t until after they landed and everyone was standing up to pack their things that they realized what was wrong.

“In the moment after the ‘ding’ hits, and everyone unbuckles their seatbelt, I heard some gasping,” Gremminger said. “I saw the mother on the floor of the aircraft in the middle of the aisle. And she was just crying.”

‘It was the worst feeling’

You’ve flown on crowded planes in coach. You know that impatient pause, when people are grouped together in the aisle, waiting for the people in front to get off. Now, everyone stayed clear for the woman, who was apparently cradling her “completely lifeless” dog on the floor.

“A stranger took her newborn, and the whole area of the plane could see,” she told me, her voice straining with emotion. “She was crying. Her daughter was crying. It was the worst feeling.”

Finally they got off the plane. Many people who hadn’t been sitting nearby had no idea what happened until then–including most of the flight crew. 

“The United people were equally like, ‘what the hell?’ No flight attendant even knew this happened except the one that told her to put the bag up,” Gremminger said. 

Afterward, she saw the woman and her daughter and infant in the terminal. They haven’t been identified in news reports and Gremminger said that while she gave them her information, she didn’t get theirs.

“I kind of gave them both a hug, and gave them my name and phone number” she said. “They at least know that other people saw it. We didn’t want them to think that they’re alone.”

The social reaction

Gremminger was in shock. When she got back to her home to Queens, N.Y., just a 10 minute ride from the airport, she started to post on social media.

“I just feel shock. … The image of that woman on the ground will not leave me. I’m just so heartbroken. … I was feeling so much guilt for not calling out the flight attendant. So I was doing some therapeutic typing on Facebook,” she said, “and people were giving me input: ‘This is something you should share.

In her job, Gremminger is the community relations manager for Hilary’s, a health food company. And as part of her job, she social media campaigns. And while that’s “a very different space,” she told me, she had a sense how to work quickly on Facebook and Twitter–and maybe make something go viral.

So, she started tweeting, including her original Facebook post, and tagging travel blogs and news organizations. By the time she got up in the morning, she was practically begging for someone to cover the story.

Then, this morning, the floodgates opened: The Points Guy, View From the Wing, One Mile at a Time

“The travel blogs were kind of the first ones” to reach out to her via Twitter, she said, followed by People Pets, and newspapers in Chicago, Houston, Boston, and ABC News. She had an email from a reporter at the New York Times.  

If any good could come out of all of this, she told me, it would be to spread the word and making sure people know one simple thing: pets should never be placed in an overhead bin on an airplane.

United Airlines agrees. Here’s the full statement they sent me via email:

This was a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin. We assume full responsibility for this tragedy and express our deepest condolences to the family and are committed to supporting them. We are thoroughly investigating what occurred to prevent this from ever happening again. 

(I’ve highlighted and italicized that part just in case you’re ever on a plane where someone tries to do this.)

To my mind, it’s a straightforward statement and to the airline’s credit, regardless of what happens from here. But without Gremminger’s campaign, we likely never would have heard it.

4 Ways to Stay Genuine in a “Fake News” Social Media Landscape

The “fake news” trend isn’t going away anytime soon. Perhaps as a result, trust in media outlets is at an all-time low. In fact, when survey participants were asked to rate their trust in media from a low of zero to a high of 100, the average response was a measly 37.

In this climate, businesses are struggling to spread an authentic message and connect with their audiences because they’re being viewed skeptically as well. Forty-two percent of Americans surveyed believe brands and companies aren’t as truthful as they were 20 years ago. It will be a long road for brands to gain back the public trust, but these steps will be integral along the way.

1. Maintain Transparency With Affiliate Relationships.

An affiliate program is one of the best ways to bring your product to a new audience via authentic reviews, but it’s important to mention these relationships up front to combat the prevalence of disingenuous recommendations.

Robert Glazer, affiliate marketing expert and founder/managing director of Acceleration Partners, sees this as an essential element of a successful program. In his book “Performance Partnerships,” Glazer discusses why it’s imperative to be open with your audience: “The early years of affiliate marketing were plagued by a lack of transparency,” he explains. “A lot of large affiliates refused to disclose their tactics. They claimed that this was for proprietary reasons, but it’s clear that a lack of transparency increases the chances of questionable, or even fraudulent, behavior.”

Failing to disclose affiliate relationships is no longer just a shady marketing tactic, it’s actually illegal — and has been since a Federal Trade Commission ruling in 2006.

2. Respond to Fake News Promptly.

In August of last year, Starbucks found itself racing to respond to a fake tweet that promised discounted coffee to undocumented migrants in the U.S. Using the hashtag #borderfreecoffee, combined with Starbucks’ signature font and the company logo, the “Dreamer Day” hoax caught the brand completely off guard.

To prevent the misinformed movement from getting in the way of business, Starbucks responded to individuals on Twitter and verified that the advertisement was completely fabricated.

3. Separate Your Brand From Entities Spreading False Information.

Facebook and Google might share around 85 percent of all digital ad revenue, but they can still take a hit, especially from a giant such as Unilever. The company’s Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed pointed to toxic content spread by the tech giants, saying that Unilever would pull a substantial $2 billion in online ad spending if the situation wasn’t rectified.

While the loss in revenue from a single company isn’t much for Facebook or Google in the grand scheme of things, it sends a powerful message — one that other companies could get behind.

4. Admit Fault Authentically When You Drop the Ball.

Yours isn’t the first business to make a mistake, but while many may make them, far fewer actually own up to them. Standing out from the crowd begins by apologizing and admitting you fell short of expectations — and concludes with explaining how you’ll make it right.

It only took two tweets for Apple to apologize to music artists after saying it wouldn’t pay them during the free-trial period of Apple Music customers. Lawrence Tanenbaum, chairman of the board of the Toronto Maple Leafs, used far more than 140 characters in his apology letter to fans after a dismal season, but the message contained the same key ingredients — an acknowledgment that a problem existed and the assurance that it was being addressed as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

Trust in media might be at an all-time low, but that doesn’t mean your customer engagement has to be. By taking certain precautions, such as maintaining transparency in your advertising and distancing your company from misinformation, you can actually gain customer trust at a time when it’s in short supply. Finally, a surefire way to lose that trust is to try and cover it up when you make a mistake. Even if you think an error will go unnoticed, making public apologies for transgressions is always a better course of action. Over time, your brand will come to be associated with a high degree of integrity that will weather any storm.

How to Ensure Generation Z Uses Social Media Right in the Workplace

Social media received mass adoption from Millennials early on and now is in widespread use among all generations. But Generation Z, who uses up to five different social channels per day, will have a stronger dependence and expectation to use social media at work.

More and more social-media-inspired communication tools like Slack, Yammer, and Workplace by Facebook are gaining high adoption thanks to ubiquitous connectivity and the surge of Millennials and Generation Z into the workplace.

Four-time New York Times best-selling author and CEO of Vaynermedia, Gary Vaynerchuk, had this to say about the importance of social media,

Every year the world becomes a little smaller, a little more social, a little more connected. Creating content that allows us to share our experiences, thoughts, and ideas in real time is becoming an intrinsic part of life in the 21st century, in fact, it’s getting to the point that we’re making a statement when we don’t share or choose not to connect.

For Generation Z, the benefits of using social media at work include: streamlined communications; efficient collaboration; effective relationship building; brand building (personal and corporate); talent scouting; info gathering; and promoting products, services, events, and so on.

However, according to CareerBuilder, 28 percent of employers report that they’ve fired people for using the Internet for nonwork activity (such as using social media) during the workday, and 18 percent have dismissed employees because of something posted on social media.

The risks of social media at work that Generation Z needs to be aware of include: misinterpreted posts, a high level of distraction, oversharing of personal information, company misrepresentation, replacement of face-to-face communication, and sharing of sensitive or illicit content.

Here are some social media dos and don’ts to emphasize with your social-savvy Generation Z employees.

The Dos of Social Media at Work

  • Be respectful. Intent matters. Have the right intent and treat others as you want to be treated.
  • Know and follow your company’s social media guidelines. Neglecting the guidelines can get you fired, sued, or both. Also, consider the company’s code of ethics.
  • Proofread before posting. Correct poor grammar, unnecessary slang, or misspelled words.
  • Use a disclaimer (if your name is closely associated with your employer). Make it clear when you are posting your personal opinions.
  • Check privacy settings. Decide what accounts might need to be private or set up a separate business or personal account.

The Don’ts of Social Media at Work

  • Don’t complain. Don’t complain about work over social media (no matter how private the account). Consider discussing your work challenges with friends or colleagues face-to-face.
  • Don’t share confidential company info. Keep information such as budget, future plans, rumors in the office, etc. confidential. Also, be aware that sensitive info does not sneak into the backdrop of a photo.
  • Don’t fight with customers on social. Handle complaints and criticism calmly and respond with the type of positive, empathetic words that you would like to receive if you had an issue.
  • Don’t post illicit content. Don’t post anything that could damage you professionally.
  • Don’t spend too much time. Don’t spend more time on social than is necessary for productive work.

As a Millennial and Generation Z keynote speaker and trainer, I help companies lead, engage, and sell to the emerging generations. If you’d like help solving tough generational challenges inside your organization, click here.

What Millennials Know About Emotionally Intelligent Communication that You Have to Learn

Managing millennials can be tricky. Often, the trouble isn’t “entitlement” or work ethic, but ineffective communications, particularly digital.

But there’s a trick that can help communicating with millennials — and everyone else. It’s something simple that can add emotional intelligence and make interactions more effective.

Before we get to the answer, let’s talk about sarcasm. Sara Peters, an assistant professor of psychology at Newberry College, wrote in The Conversation about sarcasm in texts and emails. The use of this form of ambivalent communications, where the meaning tends to be opposite of what is literally expressed, is widely practiced.

However, it’s not always easy to figure out if a writer is being sarcastic – particularly as we march ahead in a digital age that has transformed the way we communicate, with texting, emailing and online commentary replacing face-to-face chats or phone conversations.

You’ve probably been part of some awkward digital communication in which one person tried for a sarcastic tone that fell flat. The reason is clear: the exchange misses body language, facial expressions, and vocal tone. What went missing were the parts of the conversation that could reduce the ambiguity and signal that the words were meant to mean the opposite of what they seemed to say.

The two-part answer to the problem is emojis and hashtags. The little icons that indicate an emotional intention have been around for decades in text form. Increased choice availability and their graphic representation have brought the tool to new heights. And hashtags, intelligently used, can express a subtext or a more direct clue — #sarcasm, for example — to the intended interpretation.

In many types of business communication, adding emojis wouldn’t seem appropriate. In such cases, the writer presumably creates a straightforward message with no ambiguity.

But even straightforward exposition can appear to carry an emotional undertone because of a recipient’s inference, accurate of not. Despite normal “corporate style,” it’s smart to look for potential ambiguity in communications. If multiple possible interpretations exist, either revise the email or text or social media message to eliminate other choices or add emoji to reinforce the intent.

One danger, though, is a reverse type of sarcasm or disingenuousness I’ve seen. The sender means one thing but adds emoji to disavow the message’s intent. You have to be honest with what you mean and convey it in a genuine manner.

You’ll still have problems at times when what you are really saying is unpleasant, just as some people don’t like receiving sarcastic messages. But sparing and deft use of emojis overall can improve your communication skills and get your points across better. Even if someone really doesn’t want to hear it.

Busch Spilled 60,000 Pounds of Beer onto a Highway and Their Hilarious Responses Were Major Lessons in Communication

No one started their day this past Wednesday meaning to spill 60,000 pounds of Busch beer onto a Florida highway. That’s exactly what happened but no one was hurt and, other than the obvious loss of product and a citation for careless driving, the incident caused little damage.

It’s what happened afterward that’s the takeaway here: Busch Beer‘s social media team kept their sense of humor, and stayed on point with the brand’s savvy fan-centric strategy.

They included a link to the local news station’s coverage, which showed images of a mountain of broken boxes of beer with cans spilling out.

Followers responded to the tweet in droves, and Busch parried every one.

And it goes on and on.

Here are three things that Busch’s social media team did right that are damage-control lessons for all of us.

Keep Some Perspective

It was an unfortunate event, yes, and a mistake that cost the company a truckload (literally) of product. But no one was hurt, first and foremost. This was an accident, not a crisis. It was a short-term failure that was also an opportunity to contribute to longer-term success. It was a good time, in other words, to zoom out and see the bigger picture.

Keep Your Sense of Humor, Thoughtfully

The bigger picture here invited jokes, puns and satire. A major beer company spilling 60,000 pounds of beer onto the side of a highway in Okaloosa County, Florida? Come on. Still, humor can be tricky if not handled well. This particular situation, moreover, involved alcohol and driving, which could have invited exactly the wrong kind of commentary.

Busch responded quickly and appropriately. Appropriate humor is, in fact, one of the key guidelines outlined by Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker and lecturer Naomi Bagdonas, who teach a course about humor in business. Benefits of leaders with a sense of humor delivered with appropriate context and timing include the ability to build stronger cultures, unleash more creativity, and negotiate better deals. In addition, research shows that cultures who incorporate humor are more resilient as an organization: humor, particularly at stressful moments, releases oxytocin, which facilitates social bonding and increases trust. (A lot like having a beer with a friend after work.)

Keep the Facts Straight

No one was hurt in the incident, which was caused when the driver (44 year old Michael Nolan Powell of South Carolina) veered from his lane while driving his tractor trailer along Interstate 10 in Florida. By linking to their coverage of the event, Busch let the local news station report the story, which lends credibility to these facts.

In addition to the photographs from the scene, the news station’s report also referenced a Facebook post by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office — a credible source who themselves poked fun at the event. “A semi carrying Busch beer spilled its cargo after a wreck on I-10 Westbound at the Holt Exit (exit 45),” the post read. “Thankfully only minor injuries which were treated on scene but the beer didn’t fare so well.”

The post was shared more than 1300 times and, though the comments question a factual error of the weight of the truck, Busch is distanced twice over (by the news station and the Sheriff’s Office) from fault as a result of that particular debate.

McDonald’s Turns Its Burger World Upside Down and Wendy’s Trolls Them Mercilessly

It’s been a bad few days at McDonald’s, what with the stock drop, disappointing results for the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu, and that frightful video of calling the police on a homeless man who had come in when someone bought him a meal. So, when news broke yesterday of the McDonald’s plan to make two of its burgers from fresh beef, the company probably wanted a day without calamity.

So much for dreams. Wendy’s social media team immediate saw an opportunity to troll its large rival and took it with a vengeance. Here’s what rolled out late afternoon yesterday:

Oh, cold. So to speak.

Now, many can summon snark on occasion, and it’s not always wise in business competition. The NationalFrozenFoodDay comment was … fine, but not brilliant in and of itself. Where Wendy’s shined was on the resulting thread, periodically responding to comments and furthering the theme.

And, in a way, one of the most important interactions on the thread came further down. Someone claimed to have eaten at a McDonald’s that day. Here is the Wendy’s response and the reply from the poster:

Wendy’s has a formidable social media reputation — up there with KFC. Wit and speed are important. But it’s in the further interaction that Wendy’s really shines. A quip isn’t enough to sustain social media engagement, although it can go a long way.

People respond to posts in large part because they crave recognition. Everyone loves the feeling of having their existence validated — of showing enough value and importance to receive a response.

An answer to every single comment is too much, particularly if the responses are generic in nature. Instead, respond to a good sampling and take part in kind. Recognition of the consumer’s observation shows appreciation and also gives others hope for receiving their own answer, or having a big name pass on the message to their followers.

This is part of the design of social media and why it is so addictive. People want to see their comments liked, to see them pointed to, and to have others answer. It’s an existential stoking of ego.

If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll see the dynamic first hand. Or watch those you know, even if they appear professional, polished, and well positioned. The same thing will happen.

Being clever is fine. Giving people a little love and letting them know that they count is the real brilliance.