Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Deleting your Facebook Account requires some preparation, and then a fairly well hidden link. I'll outline the preparation and point you to the link.
What is the safest way to deactivate and completely eliminate my Facebook account?
I'll walk you through some simple steps to do it, but also point out a couple of issues that make it very easy for the deletion not to happen.
I have to start by quoting Chris Pirillo's two step plan for internet privacy:
Don't share s**t you don't want the world to see
Repeat step 1
While that's clearly Chris's attempt to shock you into paying attention to the issue, he has a point. If you don't want something to potentially become public, don't share it online. Period. It's very simple, and completely insulates you from the privacy policies of various organizations, as well as unexpected changes to those policies over time. What's private today might not be private tomorrow.
Note that "Deactivation" is not the same as "Deletion". Deactivation "turns off" your account, but does not remove your data. You can still be tagged in photos, and much of your information may still be visible, either publicly or to other Facebook members.
The idea behind deactivation is that someday you'll come back and want all your old stuff to be restored.
Naturally, deactivation is what Facebook typically points you at.
If you're serious and want a solution that says "I'm not coming back", you want to delete your Facebook account.
How To Delete Your Facebook Account
Start by deleting all the ties you've created to your Facebook account from outside of Facebook.
If you've allowed other sites to use Facebook Connect to log you in, that has to be disabled - a single login to one of those account may disable your eventual account deletion. Go to those sites and change how you login before you try to delete your Facebook account.
Are you using a Facebook application on your mobile phone? Delete it first, from all your devices.
Using a Facebook add-in in an instant messaging program? Remove it first, from all your computers.
As we'll see in a moment, any of those outside connections to Facebook could cause your account deletion to be canceled.
Deleting Your Account
Go to this link:
Follow the instructions there.
DON'T LOGIN TO YOUR ACCOUNT FOR AT LEAST TWO WEEKS. I'd wait longer. I can't stress the importance of this enough. If you login within two weeks you will cancel the account deletion. If any of those external Facebook applications logs in again, I believe you also risk cancelling your account deletion.
After 14 days the deletion is permanent. If you change your mind and want a Facebook account again you'll need to create a new one.
What am I doing?
I'm keeping my Facebook account.
But then, I also don't share ... uh ... "stuff" ... that I don't want the world to see. Even if I post something "privately" today, I'm very aware that particularly on Facebook this privacy could be an illusion. Someday it's very possible that they could change their terms of service again to make my formerly private information public.
Is that evil? Absolutely. And clearly Facebook has a reputation for doing exactly that.
But I don't control Facebook. The only control I have is over what I do and what I choose to share. That means that right or wrong the only way to protect myself, and my privacy, is to not share stuff I don't want the world to see.
Assume anything you post on Facebook - even the "private" stuff - will someday be public, and act accordingly.
And for some, "act accordingly" may mean leaving Facebook.
While I personally don't see the need and would simply counsel being aware of and restricting what you post, I can certainly understand if deleting your Facebook account is the solution you choose.