Most of us will say we want to clean up our old Facebook posts because of “Spring cleaning” or “Privacy”. We don’t want to admit it, but I expect the actual reason some of us want to delete the past is because we wrote some pretty awful things in the past and are afraid they could come back to haunt us.
Deleting Facebook data in massive chunks used to be a simple thing to do, and there were a bunch of ways to do it.
However, around the time when the God-awful Facebook Timeline was starting to be forced onto many of us, Facebook decided to remove the option from deleting masses of your old posts in one big bunch. Even ticking a dozen photos for mass deletion get’s “Something’s gone wrong” every time.
In reality, I don’t think anything actually went wrong. I have a hunch they just don’t want to lose that precious data so easily.
But why? Because Facebook is an advertising company, with a social media platform built in.
Every sentence you write on their site is mined for keywords in order to send you advertising. We’ve all heard of targeted advertising, but Facebook is able to go one step further, thanks to your un-removable data – they’re able to implement highly accurate “Laser targeted advertising“. This means Facebook are almost able to know what you want, before you do, and blast you with ads accordingly.
To avoid laser targeted adverts you could just get AdBlock Plus which is utterly wonderful, free, and I should point out, utterly wonderful (in fact if you don’t already have it, you should open a new tab now and download it immediately), but it doesn’t solve the problem. Facebook still knows what you’re thinking, even if you can’t see the ads. That makes me a bit uncomfortable, and I know it’s not only me.
One of the reasons I wanted to remove old posts is because I used to work for a pretty awful company some time ago. I won’t name them, because when I worked there they searched themselves regularly on Google to hunt down people sharing their working experiences. I learned there were a lot of unhappy ex staff online. In short, they were horrible and offensive, bordering on illegal (but were also mindful to operate just inside the rules of the law).
I worked very hard for this company, as all the staff did, yet it was never enough. Additionally, we were asked to meet targets each week but without incentives. Management thoroughly distrusted everyone, recording all staff phone conversations, and paying the staff half what the rest of the industry paid, while in contrast they charged the earth for their services. I could go on, but I’d have to list the many examples, which would give them away, and I can promise you with absolute certainty they have already visited this site this year to check on me.
I assume like many staff there, I began making plans to leave after working for them for only two months. On the plus side, Karma can hit you in the face pretty hard, and I reckon they’ve got a lot heading their way. I actually wonder if they’re still in operation? Meh, who cares.
On a side note, I worked out they had a higher annual staff turnover (around 25 to 30 percent P.A.) than a typical supermarket, which is around 19 percent P.A. That gives you an idea how quick the staff wise up and leave in that company.
Fortunately, this was just one bad apple in an otherwise delightful working career. All the other jobs I’ve had in my life have been typically been positive, and I really love my current job & colleagues.
Anyway, the point is, I may or may not have moaned and whinged about my experiences in that company (in private of course) on Facebook. And in the unlikely case that somehow one of these theoretical complaints got screen-captured and sent to them from one of my Facebook acquaintances, I want them all gone from history!
As I explained, Facebook has removed the option to mass-delete your (their) data. This leaves you two options:
1: Delete each update from today, back to the day you first posted something, or,
2: Get a free app called Exfoliate.
Let’s ignore 1, and go straight to Exfoliate.
It’s a free app that deletes all posts & updates, one by one, page by page. It’s basically doing option 1 above – but by itself. So it’s technically it’s not breaking any Facebook rules.
Because of it’s sheer awesomeness at removing your private data, I expect Facebook will soon change their rules to stop this app in it’s tracks. In which case I recommend getting it now. No, I mean it. Don’t procrastinate. Follow the steps below.
The Exfoliate app works on Android phones only, and you can download it from “Google Play”. This is great if you have an Android phone. If you own an Android phone, then hooray! Problem solved, off you go!
For the rest of us that have iPhones, Windows phones, Nokias – or anything else for that matter - what can we do?
“How do I run exfoliate on a PC?” I hear you ask? Don’t panic, you can run Exfoliate on a Windows computer by using an “Emulator”. It’s a piece of cake, and yup – it’s free!
1- Open a new tab or window in your internet browser, then go to www.bluestacks.com and download the app player. It will install reasonably quickly.
2 – Once installed, search for “Exfoliate” in the big search box and install it when it appears.
3 – Next, log into Facebook with it (it brings up the login box for you).
4 – Almost there, just select how far back you want to delete everything (I selected everything older than 1 year).
5 – Finally, click “Login & Run” and then the “Exfoliate” sponge button.
That’s it. You’re now removing the awful flirtations to your now-married friend, the jokes that just weren’t funny, and all those insults to enemies that are now your friends.
*Note, these are examples and don’t reflect my personal experience, because I’ve never told a joke that wasn’t funny.
The only downside to this app is that it can take a long time. A full day in many cases, and even 2 days if you’ve been using facebook for many years. Yes, it works on Timeline too.
Now go and do it.
**UPDATE!!** Facebook have since made this application illegal. Your data is now their data – end of story. Sorry.