Friends Reunited are lying about ‘deleting’ your account

Back before Facebook, Friends Reunited was a nascent social networking/school reunion site that was quite popular in the UK. It recently relaunched, and emailed all its old users to let them know.

I was one of them, and this reminded me that I should go back and delete my account, since I have no intention of using the service.

Once I had logged myself in (astonishingly, I still remembered my password), I found that the option to remove my account was actually pretty easy to find, and was quite clear that it would be a permanent deletion:

“This will permanently delete your account,” it states (the red emphasis is mine). That’s pretty unequivocal, and not exactly open to interpretation.

It is also completely untrue.

After using this option I was returned to the homepage, with a confirmation that my account had been deleted:

Call me untrusting, but I thought I’d check to see if the account was actually deleted or not. So I tried that big blue ‘Sign me in now’ button once again.

Well, well, well. So I can restore my account? The one you said would be permanently deleted? How very interesting. And utterly unsurprising.

Of course, they aren’t complete idiots, so they are careful to cover their backsides legally in their Privacy Policy:

Removing your profile from Friends Reunited.

You may remove your profile from the website at any time by clicking the “Account” link located towards the top right of the website, and clicking “Remove my account from Friends Reunited”. Any public content you have added to the website will remain; however, your profile page will not be accessible, and other members will not be able to contact you. Any content that you chose to share publicly, understandably, may be copied or stored by other members even after your profile has been removed. When your profile has been removed, we will archive and store your information for a reasonable time period for legal and administrative reasons and for the purposes of re-activating your account with us, if you wish to do so.

Again, the red emphasis here is mine. This confirms exactly what I’ve found: that they do in fact retain your information when you use the remove account process. My point is that they explicitly state that using the Remove my account from Friends Reunited link constitutes a permanent deletion. It doesn’t. Regardless of what is in the terms & conditions and the privacy policy, the statement on the Edit Account page is a lie.

Even if I thought the relaunched site was worth using, I’m not going to use a service that lies to me. Facebook learned their lesson on this and are quite clear that the option they give you is to Deactivate your account, rather than deleting it. Here’s a quick tip for website operators: when Facebook are being more honest about user’s data than you are, you’re doing it wrong.

You may not like Facebook, but at least they are honest about this.

About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

27 responses to “Friends Reunited are lying about ‘deleting’ your account”

  1. Instagib says :

    Permanently is such a useless word. They may very well permanently delete your account. They just don’t do it immediately, which is what you would want it to say. But it doesn’t say that.

    • p****d off says :

      I was looking for something on the net and came across one of my family photos on google images. I followed it and got to friends reunited. I’d uploaded it and set it to private viewing only. I removed all my photos from friends reunited and deleted my account. BUT my familiy photos are still on google images. HOW DO I GET THEM OFF?

  2. Bill Williams says :

    Friends Reunited has turned into a bunch of con-merchants. Even if you try to leave, detritus seems to be left on the site afterwards.

    • tony says :

      I have been in contact with FR degarding deletion of my account and have had the same response as the A T. The way the site is going it won’t be long until itself is just a distant memory, and not one worth keeping. Why would anyone want to keep your old memories anyway?. I told support that it should read what is said on other sites about FR, to take a break, read what is said and face reality. After the relaunch the site is not worth 2 bob, the closure of the “chat rooms” was their biggest mistake but it was done to “evolve”…..Into what?????? Your guess is as good as mine. Bye Bye FR.

  3. Len says :

    Well said, Tony. Their big mistake was to try and steal the information of people signed up to Friends Reunited instead of expanding the scope of Friends Reunited.

    Conmerchants or crass amateurs? Your guess is as good as mine..

  4. Jan Clifford. says :

    Well, well, well… Only found these comments after having found elation – then distress on finding it almost impossible to contact them even to thank them!!! This suggested that I was dealing with an organisation keen to remain anonymous – a suggestion confirmed by the comments submitted here.

    • The Angry Technician says :

      I did manage to get in touch with Friend Reunited via their contact page, and the rather dubious reply was that they simply hadn’t got around to changing the text on the delete account page. Funny how they had made the legal text a priority and not the actual user interface…

  5. Len says :

    All good reasons for people to have nothing to do with Friends Disunited! They insult us all!

  6. Ken says :

    I like many many others have had the same experiance. It is now quite obvious that the re launch has been a big flop and it will not be long until the whole thing is a memory that they wanted to keep. Pity realy as the original idea was great and just needed updating instead of de capitating.


    • Len says :

      You hit the nail on the head there, Ken. All that was needed was an update to the original site. Still, it’s too late now and there was no telling this incompetent bunch of twerps that what they were doing was just plain MAD!

  7. Dave Dixon says :

    Thank god there’s others that think the same, thought it was just me, went back on the site, had to start a new account no problem then… !!! It’s got to be the most complicated overdone useless upgrade ever, all I wanted to do was find old friends NOT flipping memories etc etc, how much do these geeks get paid, who’s idea was it,sack them all ! As you all say old version was fine.

    • Len says :

      Yep..The question still remains: “Conmerchants or crass amateurs?” Who would have believed it possible for people to be as inept as this mad bunch who screwed up Friends Reunited and produced a sad apology for a site?!

  8. Jack Kerr says :

    Couldn’t agree more with the comments here. I used Friends Reunited to track down a huge number of people for a school reunion – it was easy to use and the way it was organised made sense. Now?? What a load of rubbish!! Memories?? I want to track down friends and the memories will come from them not some generic rubbish. These guys need sacking. Bring back the old one. Just another point. I have no recollection of ever putting my family tree into Friends Reunited – why would I? I can’t even think of where I would have put it if I wanted to. Now, I discover that my family tree is in my own memory box. Where did it come from? Genes Reunited is a sister site. When quizzed they claim that they don’t swap information. It must be magic! Anyone else have the same problem?

  9. Ian Bateson says :

    It looks like they’ve handed the FR site over to a bunch of schoolkids to practice their coding skills. Annoying because I went to it to find someone, but can’t now. Their Contact page doesn’t work either. You’re required to type in a summary then a message, but when you try to type in the message field it’s not possible, and the Send button is deactivated too. No doubt they had too many complaints rolling in about the useless redesign – which should be called ‘demolition’..

    Even Red Robbo couldn’t have done a better wrecking job.

  10. June Cork says :

    FR have made contacting them difficult/impossible. The new site requires a satnav to locate anything/anyone worthwhile – such as old classmates/workmates etc; I am just NOT interested in Birkenhead College (no connection); nor do I wish to watch I’m a Celebrity etc. I left a message for college friends: no-one’s responded probably because no-one would know it was there, even if they knew how to access it. My dustbin has less junk in it! What about Angry Technician creating an alternative user-friendly sensible site for us – just like the one we used to know. R.I.P (Rest In Pieces) downgraded, degraded Friends Re-united.

  11. keithstanyon says :

    spot on. Now absolutely useless.

  12. paule says :

    Original FR was a simple easy to use and practical way to navigate lost contacts. The replacement enhancement whatever a kind of unintelligible mish mash of nostalgia except its not really that – its so flawed as a concept its difficult to know where to start- FR was simple you know what it was and it worked. Memory boxes!

  13. Len Webster says :

    There is some small comfort in finding so many people agree with my point of view!

    “Friends Reunited”? It’s become no more than a scam for unimaginative amateurs!

    • June Cork says :

      I have to agree with all the comments above – all I want to be able to do is track down friends and acquaintances from various walks of my life. I really don’t need to Find A Memory Box (most of which are totally irrelevant to me). Unless the “new improved” FR is abandoned, I shall be abandoning FR.

      Who are these people who’ve hijacked a perfectly useful, workable and easily navigated site and trashed it?

      • Jack Kerr says :

        The more I look at it the more of a trainwreck it is. Was it that they wanted to rival Facebook? They have destroyed an effective niche website that performed its job very well and instead created a useless site of “memories” – memories of Friends Reunited actually. I noticed that a lot of people are saying that the memories are a load of cobblers – well how do you think I feel, I’m in Australia and the memories of who kicked the winning goal in the English soccer league is totally meaningless to me. I noticed that the value of the website had halved after they started this nonsense – I guess it would be worth close to zero now. Unless they bring back the old Friends Reunited, I’m gone.

        • June Cork says :

          Cannot argue with any of your comments. Most of us signed up in the first place to enable us to track down old contacts not to have so-called memories – whose memories: certainly not mine – thrust in our faces I can’t help thinking there must be someone out there with an appropriate technical and legal background prepared to start up a new site with the original format (so hardly stealing from the current one). It would certainly win me over and I rather think thousands of others. There is obviously a need for such a site but absolutely not the current one.

          Incidentally, I’m in England and I’m not interested in England football memories either!

          • Jack Kerr says :

            Well June I would be in total agreement about someone starting up a ‘new’ Friends Reunited using the old format. Facebook doesn’t really cut the mustard because of its searching technique. For example, I’m looking for an old friend named Jack Rodgers. Well up come hundreds of them – with no details and no photo. I don’t know which country they are in and with no photo it might as well be Santa Claus. I’m not going to send off 600 messages saying, “Are you the Jack Rodgers who attended Swan Hill High School?” There’s no doubt about it, the original Friends Reunited was good for finding people – pity the idiots that are running the site at the moment don’t realise that. Yes, we need a new Friends Reunited, like the old one but run by someone with a few brains and ‘no memories’!

            • June Cork says :

              Firstly Jack, good luck searching for your friend – it ought to be a breeze with all this communication technology at one’s fingertips – you’d think!

              Perhaps all we former fans of FR could start off by circulating the need for a new FR on all the social networking sites including email. I cannot believe that the few who’ve posted on the Angry Technician are the only ones who are discontented and disenchanted with the present situation although I’d imagine that many, having visited the ‘new, improved’ site would simply not bother with it again: incidentally you will be unsurprised to learn that following emails from me last November, December and January I have received absolutely no responses from FR. One does have to wonder what their MO is: what it certainly isn’t, is helping people to reconnect. There were 23.8 million users in 2010 – it would be interesting to see what the current number is given the sharp downturn in FR’s value together with the frustration level at trying to navigate the wretched site.

  14. Jack Kerr says :

    Just had a look at Wikipedia about Friends Reunited. It was worth 175m pounds in 2005 and was worth 5.2m pounds in 2010. Just shows you what happens when you let a mob of idiots loose on a good site!

    • Len says :

      Yep, you hit the nail on the head there. But the odd thing is there’s no value available to us at the moment – £5.2million in 2010 might have been right, but what about 2013?

  15. Maxine McGill says :

    Hello, I was a member of Friends Reunited and they sent me a message yesterday to say that a member had sent me a message. This message has greatly upset me because I thought that my membership had been stopped! The member who had sent me a message is someone who sexually abused me when I was only a child of 13…he manipulated me ! When I was a member of friends . this person sent me a message and I reported him to Friends who told me that they would ask this person not to contact me again. I told friends that I no longer to be a member! I cannot tell you just how upset I am.

  16. Mr Sinter says :

    Seems the original owners have bought it back.
    They must be VERY happy – started it from scratch in 2000, sold it to ITV (in 2005) for GBP175 mill, it was sold later (in 2009) by ITV for GBP 25.6 mill to Brightsolid (wow, big hit to ITV’s pocket !) but it seems that the original owners have now bought it back – from Brightsolid – for I am sure less than the GBP 25.6 million paid for it) … I think that the original owners are having a good old laugh at both ITV and Brightsolid !
    Anyway, here is the “newsletter” that I have just received today – 12th April 2014
    April Newsletter
    Hi xxxxx,
    It’s Founders Reunited at FriendsReunited.
    Some of you may remember that Friends Reunited was started in July 2000 by Steve and Julie Pankhurst and their friend Jason Porter.
    Well, the team are back together running Friends Reunited once again with the help of Will in support. It has been over 10 years and we are looking forward to the challenges ahead.
    FriendsReunited has been through a lot of changes since we left and we feel it is time to go back to basics and do what Friends Reunited does best.
    The site is already evolving. Schools, workplaces, forces and clubs are all back. There are also many popular friend groups where you can discuss all manner of subjects. Feeback has been very positive and people are flocking back to the site to see what their old (and new) friends are up to.
    This is just a start with many of the old favourite features coming back and new ideas being introduced. We are actively seeking your views. Please visit the Friends Reunited Development Requests group to see what other people want and to post your own requests.
    We will also be announcing an exciting new service soon. Watch this space….
    Come and see whats new

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