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Facebook, Google, forums & Co .: How to delete your account
On the other hand, forum operators and entrepreneurs regularly ask me if and when they need to delete users' data. Deleting all user data is often technically very complex and time-consuming.
We answer your questions on the subject of deleting user data on the Internet.
What user data is it about in practice?
Most of the cases take place in forums and social networks. Often it is not just about deleting user data, but above all about deleting old posts and posts. In many cases, users do not want their names to be publicly available on the Internet in connection with old utterances. This often affects old posts in forums or Facebook that users are embarrassed to find today or that make them appear in a bad light when looking for a job.
In other cases, it is not about content such as old posts, but actually about personal user data such as name, address and e-mail address. Many users want control of their data back. To do this, they want to have their data deleted from the services and websites that they no longer use.
Often asked how to do it
- Facebook friends,
- Facebook messages & photos from the wall,
- a Facebook page (fan page),
- Facebook profile pictures or
- Facebook groups
can safely delete?
How to get in Google, e.g .:
- the history of search entries,
- an account (Google in general or Google+ in particular),
- Images from Google image search or
- a mail account with GMail (or Googlemail)
can delete safely and permanently.
Is there a legal basis on which users can request that their data be deleted?
The basis for the deletion of user data is data protection law. Section 35 of the Federal Data Protection Act regulates that data must be deleted when it is no longer required by the website operator. If a user ends his membership in free services such as a forum or a network such as Facebook, this data is no longer required for the operator and must be deleted.
It is different when it comes to data in connection with orders or invoices - for example in online shops or at Amazon & Co. These data must be kept by the operator. There are numerous statutory retention periods, for example from commercial law. In this case, the site operator does not have to delete the data, but has to block it.
Have there already been judgments on the subject of “deleting user data” on Google, Facebook & Co. in the past?
There are relatively few judgments in this regard. On the one hand, this is because the deletion of data is not so important to many users that they would run the risk of legal action.
The second reason is that many providers such as Facebook, Google or Amazon are based abroad, which makes it difficult to prosecute and enforce claims.
The third reason why there are hardly any judgments: warnings, which often lead to legal proceedings, are rare here. This is because the violation of data protection regulations cannot be warned, neither by the private user concerned, but also not by competitors.
In one of the few existing judgments, the Higher Regional Court of Bamberg decided in 2005 that in the case of spam emails, the sender must delete the recipient's data if the recipient has not consented to receiving advertising emails (Ref .: 1 U 143/04).
Can the providers dictate to the users how the deletion must take place?
The providers of social networks, forums or online shops are in a quandary here.
On the one hand, the customer data must be deleted when it is no longer needed. On the other hand, data such as name, address and invoices must be kept due to commercial law regulations, especially for paid services and shops and platforms such as eBay or Amazon. The providers also need this data if, for example, the customer wants to withdraw or makes warranty claims.
If the data cannot be deleted, the provider must then at least block this data.
It is also obvious that an account can not be deleted "on demand", for example using an anonymous contact form. Finally, the providers must ensure that the deletion was actually requested by the owner of the account and not by any other person.
The providers have chosen very different ways for the deletion here.
Practical tip: How to securely delete your data on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter
Each of us has already set up an account with an online platform, forum, social network or cloud service.
When setting up these accounts, profiles and accounts, we usually transmit our personal data to the respective provider. This not only includes our name, address and contact details, in the times of social media, over time it also revolves around personal pictures, videos and messages that we write with friends.
How can I delete my Facebook profile without leaving any personal data behind?
Basically, it should be noted that there are two different options for withdrawing from the largest social network. In addition to deleting their own accounts, Facebook also offers its users temporary shutdown in the form of deactivation.
Temporary deactivation of the Facebook profile
This option ensures that all private content such as profile photos, pictures from the pin board, photos on which you have been marked and other user information are invisible to all other members. This means that search engines and friends can no longer find your own social media profile. The function for deactivating the profile can be reached via the tab with the gear symbol, which is located in the blue, static status bar next to the privacy shortcuts at the top right of the screen.
The gear icon takes you to the “Account Settings” tab; if you click on it, the Facebook account settings menu opens. On the left edge of this menu is the item "Security", under which various information about your login confirmations and passwords are listed. Below this information is the link to deactivate the Facebook profile, highlighted in blue "Deactivate your account". Now Mr. Zuckerberg asks whether your Facebook account should really be deactivated and also asks about your reasons for the temporary deletion of your account.
By clicking on the "Confirm" button, your account will be temporarily closed, but all personal data, pictures, wall entries, friends, messages and groups will remain on Facebook. If you want to reactivate your account later, all you have to do is log in to the home page with your usual log-in data, after which all information is available again for you, the search engines and your friends.
Permanently delete the Facebook profile
In order to permanently delete your own profile on Facebook, you have to dig much deeper compared to the deactivation described above.
Again the way goes here via the "gear symbol" at the top right edge of the screen, but this time you have to click the tab "Help" click.
In the help menu you now have to manually enter “Delete account” in the search line and then click on the upper tab “How can I permanently delete my account”.
Now Facebook first mentions the possibility of deactivating your profile as described above. At the end of this text section you will find the link to delete your Facebook profile.
After renewed confirmation of your wish to delete your Facebook profile, the process is theoretically over.
Important: However, your private information, photos, etc. initially remain stored with the social media giant. The actual deletion process will only start if you no longer log in to Facebook for 14 days after confirming as described above. After this two-week period, the actual deletion process takes another 90 days. If you log in again within this period, your request for deletion is deemed to have been revoked.
After that, all of your Facebook data such as friends, pictures, groups and your entire wall will be deleted.
Delete Google Account
The internet giant Google has endless areas in which user data is stored. These include, for example
- the Google history,
- the Gmail account,
- the Picasa photo service,
- the google search,
- the Youtube account or
- your own Google+ profile.
In the meantime, the search engine giant handles it in such a way that when a normal Google account is created, an account for the social network Google+ is automatically assigned. In addition to this automatically generated social media account, you can also log into YouTube and the Gmail email service. In order to be able to delete this generated Google+ account, you must first of all be registered.
When you click on the avatar symbol, the sub-item “Account” appears in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
Select it and scroll to the bottom half of the page. You will find the function there "Delete profile and remove associated Google+ functions".
Under this point you now have the choice of either deleting the content of Google+ or your entire Google account. In addition to your social profile, this also deletes all other content such as posts, videos, images, comments and circles from the profile.
However, photos remain on Picasa and can still be accessed. If you also want to delete your entire Google account, the sub-item “Close account and delete all associated services and information” must be selected on the previous page. There your entire Google account and all related content can be deleted. When deleting the Google account, you also remove the data from the search, the history of the search engine and your email account in the in-house service Gmail / Googlemail.
Delete Twitter account
If you want to delete your Twitter account, you must first log into your profile.
In the top right corner of the screen you will find the item "Edit profile" under the gear symbol. If you select this, you will be taken to the editing area of your profile.
In order to be able to delete Twitter, the tab "Account" must be selected on the left edge of the screen.
If you scrolled down to the bottom of the page, the item "Deactivate my account" appears.
Here we can click on the "Deactivate @Name" button, enter our password and delete our Twitter account. Twitter stores the user data for another 30 days and then permanently deletes them.
Do you have any further legal or technical questions about deleting user data on the Internet? Then write to us in the comments.
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