When most of us log off of Facebook — if we ever log off at all — we just hit the “log off” link. Teenagers are better at Facebook than we are, though: they’ve invented the super-logoff. Instead of just signing out of Facebook, they’re deactivating their accounts, making them secure and unsearchable until they sign in again by reactivating….

This works because Facebook doesn’t totally delete your deactivated account unless you take several additional steps. Reactivating restores your account to the exact way you left it.

Internet researcher danah boyd says that kids are using the super-logoff because they don’t want people finding them or friends posting on their walls when they can’t be around to respond or take down anything they don’t like. A similar trick is the “white wall,” where a Facebooker periodically deletes all the comments and posts on his or her wall, making sure only the newest and freshest posts are visible. Combining the super-logoff and the white wall is much more hardcore and much easier to understand than tweaking all those complex Facebook privacy settings. 

Presumably the Facebook team will want to make this obsolete, because this practice lowers activity on the site, makes it less communal and shows that privacy and authorization features need a makeover. Because people don’t use websites exactly how designers intended – we use them however they work best for us.

The super-logoff