· security web

Facebook Lies

In the past, I had a Facebook account. Long ago I “deleted” this account through the procedure outlined on their help pages. In theory, 14 days after I used this process my account would be irrevocably gone. This was all lies.

My account was not deleted and yesterday I received an email:

Screenshot of the email I received from Facebook

Screenshot of the email I received from Facebook

It took me a moment to figure it out, but what had happened here is someone had logged into my Facebook account using my email address and password. Facebook simply reactivated the account, which had not had its data deleted, as if I had logged in.

This was possible because:

  1. Facebook was clinging to the hope that I would like to return
  2. The last time I used Facebook I didn’t know what a password manager was and was using the same password for basically everything

When I logged back in, all I needed to provide to prove I was me was my date of birth. Given that old Facebook passwords are readily available from dumps (people think their accounts are gone, so why should they be changing their passwords?) and my date of birth is not secret either, this is not great.

I followed the deletion procedure again and in 2 weeks (you can’t immediately request deletion apparently) I’ll check to see if the account is really gone. I’ve updated the password so at least the deletion process can’t be interrupted by whoever has that password (probably lots of people - it’ll be in a ton of dumps where databases have been hacked).

If it’s still not gone, I hear you can just post obscene and offensive material until Facebook deletes you. I’d rather not have to take that route though.

If you’re interested to see if you’ve turned up in a hacked database dump yourself, I would recommend hibp.

Update (2017-10-04): Thanks for all the comments. Sorry I haven’t been able to reply to all of them. Discussion around this post occured at Hacker News if you would like to read more there. You can also read about a similar, and more frustrating, case that came up in the HN discussion.


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