How to delete all the posts from your Facebook account

When I first set out to delete all my old posts, I naively thought that Facebook would just let me do that by clicking a button. I expected to have to find my way through a Byzantine array of menus and sub-menus, but I was expecting that eventually I would be able to just click a button. Of course I was mistaken. Facebook didn’t get to be the world’s biggest social network by making it easy for people to delete their data. Facebook does let you delete your old posts – but only by clicking on them, one. by. one.

Actually, it’s worse than that. The little icon you have to click in order to delete a post is invisible until you hover the cursor over that post. So you can’t mouse-swoop directly in for the click, the dynamic is more like: point, hover, wait for the small, not-particularly-visible, light-grey-on-a-white-background icon to appear, move the cursor over it – careful, the ‘edit or remove’ icon is right next to the ‘highlight’ icon, and you don’t want to get the wrong one. Once you manage to click ‘delete of edit’ and wait a second or so you get a little drop-down menu, where you want to select ‘delete’. Don’t bother trying to tab or down-arrow, you have to mouse-click. Then, maddeningly, after another moment’s pause an alert box asking you if you really want to delete the post. This one you can either click or press enter. I ended up keeping my left hand over the enter button just for this, with my right hand working the mouse. Success, you’ve deleted a post! Don’t be too eager to get on to the next one though. The post you’ve just deleted has left an empty space, and it will take the other posts a few moments to rearrange themselves accordingly.

As you can probably tell, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to contemplate this workflow. And, as a hobbyist web developer who generally writes javascript by pasting in random bits of code from the web until something works, I can tell you that this workflow is utter crap even by my not-particularly-high standards. In fact, the whole time I was deleting my old posts, I had a vision of a team of Facebook software engineers in an office somewhere far away, laughing at me.

But I digress.

When I set out on this task I naturally Googled “how to delete all the posts from your Facebook account”, and turned up a couple of possibilities. I tried out running a script via Firefox Add-on Greasemonkey, and when that didn’t work I added another Firefox Add-on called iOpus iMacros, which records your mouse clicks and then attempts to re-play them. It was fun to play with but alas, it didn’t work.

So this blog post is a different sort of how-to guide. It’s a guide to deleting your Facebook posts the slow way. The only way that’s (probably) guaranteed to work.

How to delete all the posts from your Facebook account:

Don’t try to delete everything in one go, as quickly as possible – that’s just setting yourself up for failure. Instead, try to do a little bit each day. If you manage to delete 3 months’ worth of posts a night, you’ll be done within a few weeks, even if you joined Facebook back in 2006.

Stop at the first sign of carpal tunnel.

Don’t delete posts early in the day when you’re full of energy. Do it when you’ve used up most of your creative energy for the day, when you need some downtime, when you’re tired by not tired enough to go to sleep.

Put on some music, or listen to the radio, or a TED presentation. Maybe you have an album you haven’t managed to listen to all the way through yet. If you’ve got a big screen you can even delete old Facebook posts in one window while watching a film in another. Stop deleting posts when you start to get sick of it – you can always come back to it later.

Above all, don’t forget to have fun!