Your apology is not accepted, Mark Zuckerberg. It’s time to delete Facebook

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By Christopher Elliott

Mark Zuckerberg’s apology is not accepted — and yes, it’s time to delete Facebook. At least that’s according to a CBS News poll, tech luminaries like Steve Wozniak, and my 15-year-old son.

If you’re just tuning in, Facebook has admitted to mishandling more personal information than you probably knew existed.

Harvesting your data for Donald Trump

Specifically, a U.K. firm called Cambridge Analytica reportedly harvested personal data from tens of millions of Facebook users and used the information to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. Now Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, is on an apology tour, with stops that have included an awkward congressional hearing.

Seems there’s little room for debate on this issue. We’re not buying it. More Facebook data scandals are almost certainly ahead, and many users are just leaving. Zuckerberg’s apology is not accepted.

“It’s too little, too late,” says Evgeny Chereshnev, the founder of Biolink.Tech, a privacy company. “The reputational damage done by Facebook to its customers and partners is irreversible.”

More people are now talking about Facebook as if it’s an invasive species that’s overrun our once-polite society. At best, silly games like Candy Crush and cat videos have eaten hours of our day — time we could have spent with friends and family.

But at worst, it’s made us meaner, stolen a presidential election, and destroyed lives. I have friends whose marriages ended because of Facebook. My son has watched his mother and grandmother get pulled down the Facebook rabbit hole. He wants none of it.

So now what?

Are you a Cambridge Analytica victim?

You can find out by visiting this page on Facebook while you’re signed in. Let the irony of that sink in. Still, it’s the only way to be certain. Now you know.

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Take your data back

You can download it from Facebook and keep a copy. Here’s how to do it. Look at all that data. That’s why everyone’s so upset.

Deactivate — or delete?

You have two choices. You can deactivate your Facebook account, which is like putting the account on “pause.” People can’t see your timeline or search for you when you’re deactivated. Or you can go all-in on the #DeleteFacebook movement. This page explains the differences. (Again, um, it’s on Facebook.)

Consider more detoxing

There, did that feel good? Now you might want to do a more thorough digital detox, using a site like Account Killer or Deseat.me. Because this Cambridge Analytica thing — it’s just the beginning.

Maybe now, people will start to actually talk to each other in person and spend time together. In the same room.

Then again, maybe not. I asked Austin Iuliano, a social media marketing consultant, what he made of the #DeleteFacebook movement. He said while some users will erase their accounts, many more will join Facebook in the future. And Facebook will not significantly change its ways, even after the congressional hearings, and even after we tell them: “We do not accept your apology.” (Here’s what you need to know about travel health and safety.)

“Every photo you like, every comment you leave or direct message you send is being tracked,” he says. “Personally, I have almost stopped completely posting on Facebook as a normal user.”

All of which brings me the reality of actually deleting your Facebook account. It sounds easy, but it isn’t. I talked to Charles Pantino, an electrical engineer from Lawtey, Fla., who is trying to delete his account, post-Cambridge Analytica.

“I can’t,” he says. “The best I can do is deactivate it.”

For problems like that, I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of all the Facebook executives. Go get ’em, Charles.

My son managed to figure it out. Yesterday, he informed me that in 14 days, he’d be off the social network permanently.

“Are you sure?” I asked him.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought,” he replied. “Nothing good has ever come from Facebook. Not for me. Not for you.”

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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