Dark patterns Facebook uses to stop you from deleting data

Following the whole #DeleteFacebook movement, I started to clean up my account as well. Instead of removing the whole thing (which I still want to use), I opted in for removing all information that I would not want to be public.

My new philosophy from now on is: If I want to post something on Facebook, I should be fine with it being published on a front page of a newspaper.

But in my adventure to remove all I had on Facebook, I witnessed firsthand the dark patterns they were using to hinder and distract you from removing your own content.

Below, I will list just some of the ones I came across, but I believe there are a lot more lurking in the codebase.


1. Removing your unpublished and deactivated pages where you are the only admin

So, you want to delete that page you created back in high school? That one that automatically got unpublished because you never posted anything on it? That one with 3 likes?

Yeah, sure, just wait 14 days, and then confirm again if you see the notification. Otherwise, Facebook will just assume you clicked 5 times to get to the delete button by accident.


2. Highlighting default button != enter button

Oh, you thought you could use the enter button to confirm the big blue highlighted button on popup dialogs like this? Yeah… no. Facebook decided to highlight the “X” button instead, so if you try to press enter to speed up deleting multiple things, it’ll just close the dialog for you instead.


3. Removing your self from tagged notes

That old note that your friend wrote and tagged you in it for everyone to see? Yeah, you cant remove your tag from there anymore. You’ll simple have to ask the friend to delete the whole note so it’ll get detached from your profile.


4. Deleting your developer apps

So, being a developer, I have quite a few apps on Facebook. Mostly dummy apps I used for testing, but still, I wanted to get rid of them too.

For security reasons, Facebook asks you to enter your password EVERY SINGLE TIME you try to delete an app.

Oh, and if you delete more than 10 apps in one a row, it’ll lock you out of your account for logging in too much with the correct password.


5. Removing your tags on photos

In order to remove yourself when you were tagged on photos you don’t own, you have to use the Activity Log feature. And there, you must select every single photo in order to remove the tags from them. There is no ‘Select All’ button, but there is a ‘Deselect All’ ;)


6. Refresh after every delete

To add cold water to the burned area, Facebook will almost always reload the page after deleting something. I know that from a developer point it’s easier to just reload the page in this case, but it makes deleting multiple things so much longer and frustrating.


If joining a group, uploading a photo or liking a post involved just a simple click, reversing that action should take the exact same amount of time and effort. Seems that Facebook doesn’t agree.

Edit (25/03/2018): After some searching online, I came across a very helpful Chrome extension called “Social Book Post Manager”. With the help of this little tool, you can scan your Activity Log, and delete any type of data Facebook has on you (or hide stuff you’ve been tagged in).