Facebook is most kids first adult social network. In the beginning, they are on it all the time approving friend requests, posting lots of photos and clicking “like” for everything. But like many relationships, the initial excitement fades and they begin to gaze longingly at Twitter or Instagram. Slowly, they visit Facebook less and less and soon they move on all together leaving behind their profile.
Today, many young adults are suffering the curse of the forgotten MySpace account. These teenage MySpace pages, abandoned in 2006, live on still popping up in search results. These pages contain many embarrassing teenage moments such as the poem they wrote about Hillary Duff or the blurry pictures from their high school graduation party. But, having forgotten their passwords and old email addresses, these profiles are almost impossible to delete. Many are now a permanent, public shrine to their teenage years.
Kids should avoid this curse by not just leaving their Facebook profile. If they are not using Facebook, they should consider deactivating it or deleting it. Deactivation removes their profile from Facebook but they can reactivate it any time. Deleting will remove it forever. Now, older teens may want to think twice before completely wiping out their profile. Some colleges and employers find it odd if someone their age is not on Facebook. They see this as a red flag, assuming the person deleted their profile because of damaging photos or posts.
If they are not on it but still want to keep it up, they should lock it down. By changing a few settings, kids can make sure they are they only ones contributing to their Timeline. First, they should turn Tagged Review “on”. This will not stop a friend from posting a picture but the picture will not appear on their Timeline without approval. Second, in privacy settings under “Tagged and Timeline”, they should choose “no one” for “who can post on your timeline”. Third, they can stop others from commenting on their timeline by going to “Tagged and Timeline” and choose “custom” for “who can see posts by others on your timeline”. Here, they can choose “only me”.
Even with these steps, kids should still periodically check in. Facebook often adds new features and changes settings that may bring forgotten information front and center. This occurred recently when a change to Timeline made it easier to see older posts. Some of these public posts, written before commenting or messaging, contained personal information and private conversations.
Growing up online, Facebook will probably not be their only jilted network. Their trail of forgotten profiles and abandoned information will clutter their search results. So, when they open accounts, they should keep track of their passwords and emails and close accounts they are not using. By doing this, they can hopefully avoid the curse of the forgotten teenage profile.