Q: I recently received an e-mail from Facebook, eight years after “deleting” an account that I used for about three months. When I clicked the link to unsubscribe to future e-mails, I was taken to a Facebook page to confirm my choice. From there, I was able to review a history of my account. While nothing had been posted since 2011, there was a record of “me” logging-in in March 2019 from an IP [Internet Protocol] address that, when I Googled it, was from Russia.
Should I be concerned about this? Are there other steps I should take to protect my identity? Can you ever really delete a Facebook account?
Keith Bogut, Lake Elmo, Minn.
A: Facebook has had data breaches, privacy issues and misinformation problems. I didn’t think there were any surprises left. But apparently there are.
There’s probably no way to find out why your Facebook account has continued to exist eight years after you thought you had closed it. These days, Facebook promises to remove all deleted accounts within 90 days and to allow no access to the accounts during that time.
My guess is that your account was never deleted, and that your username and password were stolen in one of the data breaches Facebook has suffered. (Last year, for example, Facebook said 30 million users were affected by an attack that gave hackers access to their Facebook accounts — see tinyurl.com/ycx2c2o7). Then somebody, apparently in Russia, used stolen information to access your account this year.
Should you be concerned? Absolutely. Somebody has the ability to masquerade as you on Facebook and perhaps try to defraud your friends with fake messages. In addition, that person has access to any personal information in your Facebook account.
Close that Facebook account now by “deleting” it (don’t “deactivate” it because that only puts the account on “hold” while you decide whether to use it again). Even after you delete your account, Facebook will keep it available for 30 days, hoping you will change your mind. But once the deletion takes effect, all that should remain of your account 90 days later are some activity logs that Facebook keeps for its own use. (Try logging in afterward to make sure.)
To begin the Facebook account deletion process, go to tinyurl.com/h56rwlv and click “How do I permanently delete my Facebook account?” You’ll have to scroll down to find the directions.
Readers who continue to use Facebook should take precautions (see tinyurl.com/y4hvgoj2).
Q: I can’t get the Google Play Store to open on my Samsung Galaxy J7 phone, even though I’ve tried many fixes. What can I do?
David Dvorak, Montevideo, Minn.
A: Your phone model should work with the Play Store app. The only exception is for some business phones; firms may turn off access to Google Play.
There are several things you can try (see tinyurl.com/yxk7a92y). Simple solutions include making sure your phone has the correct time and date settings and has sufficient memory available. More elaborate fixes include clearing the phone’s Play Store data and resetting its “download manager.”
E-mail tech questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include name, city and telephone number.