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Facebook faces UK data probe

Why can't we delete accounts?

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Facebook is facing investigation by UK data protection watchdogs after a complaint from a British user who tried, and failed, to delete his account.

Facebook accounts can be "deactivated" but not actually deleted. Your profile remains in the Facebook servers but cannot be accessed by anyone else.

The Information Commissioner confirmed to the Register that it has received a complaint and will investigate the firm.

The ICO sent us the following statement: "Many people are posting content on social networking sites without thinking about the electronic footprint they leave behind. It is important that individuals consider this when putting information online. However, it is equally important that websites also take some responsibility.

"In particular, they should ensure that personal information is not retained for longer than necessary especially when the information relates to a person who no longer uses the site. Organisations can ensure personal information is effectively protected by complying with the principles of the Data Protection Act. We will be publishing research on the need for people to protect information of a personal nature online later in November."

There's more from Channel 4 here.

Facebook's terms and conditions make it clear that you give up just about any rights to anything you post on the site.

In other news, Facebook yesterday denied it was interested in buying Chinese social networking site Zhanzou, which has seven million users. Reports claimed Facebook was prepared to offer $85m for the site. ®

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