If clamping down the privacy settings on your Facebook page isn’t enough to help you sleep at night, take a cue from the youth of America.
Try the “super-logoff.”
Performing the trick doesn’t take superhuman powers. Instead of just closing a browser window or clicking the “log off” button at the top right of the Facebook homepage, some young, privacy-concerned users are simply deactivating their Facebook accounts each time they leave the site.
Then they reactivate their accounts to log back on.
Why go to all this trouble?
Well, for one, it’s not hard. Facebook makes it notoriously difficult to fully “delete” an account. But “deactivating” an account is easy — it only takes a single click, and deactivated Facebook users maintain all of their friend connections, wall posts, photos and the like. The upside, for the privacy paranoid, is that when a “deactivated” user isn’t on Facebook, no one else can see their profile, post on their wall or tag them in photos.
For privacy-minded people, it’s a soothing alternative. It gives them ultimate control.
Microsoft researcher and social media expert danah boyd (she doesn’t capitalize her name), who identified the trend this week on her blog, believes young people may have good reasons for deactivating and reactivating their accounts frequently.
“In many ways, deactivation is a way of not letting the digital body stick around when the person is not present,” boyd writes in a November 8 post.
“This is a great risk reduction strategy if you’re worried about people who might look and misinterpret. Or people who might post something that would get you into trouble.”
She credits Michael Ducker, a program manager at Microsoft, with inventing the “super-logoff” term.
As part of her field work, boyd has spoken with kids who use the technique to maintain control of their pages. One person she mentions on her blog, Mikalah, “wants to be a part of Facebook when it makes sense and not risk the possibility that people will be snooping when she’s not around.”
The blog All Facebook adds that this practice is fundamentally different, and in some ways simpler, than changing your privacy settings on the site:
“Notice that, while you or I might think that spending five minutes setting your privacy settings correctly might solve the hassle of having to deactivate your account when you log out, in reality these are two actions that accomplish different things,” Jorge Cino writes on that Facebook-focused blog.