Some of those old posts on your Facebook Timeline are doubtlessly embarrassing, and with the new Graph Search function, they can be unearthed easier than ever. That’s why one intrepid Slate writer, Jennifer Golbeck, decided to delete everything he’d ever posted on the site and blog about her experience. What she found: it’s much more difficult to erase your Facebook history than you might think.
Golbeck found that, since joining the site in 2005, she averaged about 10 activities per day. This equated to about 30,000 items she needed to delete. She went through and tediously deleted and unliked everything, and found that it took her about 20-30 minutes to completely erase one month’s-worth of activity on the site. She also tried using Facebook Timeline Cleaner, a downloadable script, though she found that it crashed frequently and couldn’t handle the workload she gave it. She also used the Absterge script, which deleted everything and took only about an hour to run. However, some of her old posts continued popping up. In short, Golbeck wrote, it’s much easier to put yourself out there on social media than it is to clean up after yourself, so be careful what you post.
“The real lesson I learned from this exercise is how difficult it is to manage one’s online persona,” she wrote. “I had it pretty easy: I was willing to delete everything. For someone who wants to cull their Timeline more selectively, the automated solutions wouldn’t work—it could take dozens of hours to clean it up.”