Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Clearing Out Your Facebook Timeline/Activity

Facebook is fascinating application that is part of a suite of transformative social technologies.  It's a great way to share thoughts, feelings, moments, memories, and knee-jerk reactions.  However, as well-designed as it is for ingesting that content, it's not so good at letting you clear it out.  Some might argue that Facebook is actually well-designed to make it hard to clear things out, because it would certainly be easy for them to code mass deletion tools, given the remarkable development skill they have demonstrated.

Some folks put a LOT of information into Facebook.  And there are a host of reasons they may want to turn back the clock on that decision and clean some things out.  For me, I just like to keep the amount of info cluttering up my timeline as lean as possible.

Good news, I like solving technical problems.  So, follow me down the rabbit hole of cleaning out your Facebook activity and maybe Arnie will be able to tell you, "Relax, you've been erased".

You and I are not the first people that have been interested in getting rid of our Facebook activity.  A few posts a week or day can really add up and soon you have a quagmire of information.

So, you would *think* you could hop on Google and find a one-click solution.  Well, yes and no.  You will likely end up at an article on Lifehacker that explains that you have two options and links that will not solve your problem.  Let me explain, but first, please note:
This will be using a script.  Scripts can magically do good things as well as bad.  You have been warned.  Proceed at your own risk.

Backstory (You Can Safely Skip This)

There were two primary tools created by motivated folks - Absterge and Facebook Cleaner.  They were scripts executed by an extension/addon in a browser.  They were housed on a site called

Oh, don't bother going there.  It's dead, Jim.

Good news, there is still a way to achieve this.

How To Do This Today

OK, just so we did not miss that, I said *today*.  This has been broken before, it might be broken again.  You never know...

1. Install Mozilla's Firefox

We are going to do this via an add-on that was created for Firefox, a great browser created by Mozilla and one of the top three browsers in use today.  Right now, this link will take you to the right place.

2. Install the Greasemonkey Add-On for Firefox

Open up Mozilla and go to add-ons, as show in this image:

Then click on "Get Add-ons":

Search for "Greasemonkey" (all one word) and then click on "Install".

3. Install the Facebook Timeline Cleaner

Now it's time to get the script.  Using Firefox, with Greasemonkey enabled, head on over to Greasy Fork (I did not make up these names) and grab the "Facebook Timeline Cleaner" script.  Here is a direct link to the script.  You should see something like this:

Be sure to ignore any adds that look like the button you should click, and click on "Install this script".

Greasemonkey will pop up a window like this:

Click "Install".  Now we have a browser that is capable of running a script to remove our Facebook posts.

4. Go To Your Facebook Activity Log

Using Firefox, with Greasemonkey enabled and the Facebook Timeline Cleaner script installed, navigate to Facebook and go to your "activity log".  From the main Facebook page, you will see a little downward arrow in the top right of your screen, click on that and you will see a variety of choices:

Click "Activity Log"

5. Reload the Page

Once you are on the Activity Log page, simply reload it by clicking the button to reload the page:

Give it time to reload and wait until you see a new window appear at the top of the timeline.  It should look something like this:

6. Make Your Choices

You have a few things to choose:

Run vs. DryRun

  • "Autoscrollen" should always be checked so that the page can keep scrolling to pull up new posts to process
  • "DryRun" will simply highlight which posts will be deleted
  • "Run" will delete the posts

"Entrys Older Than" [sic]

The number here determines what you want to keep.  If you go with the default of "90", then all posts in the last 90 days will not be affected by the script.

"Privacy Extension"

WARNING: Making this selection executes the script.
  • Hide everything on Timeline older than X days
  • Delete everything
  • Hide everything on Timeline
  • Delete everything older than X days
Note: The "X" is the number you selected in "Entrys older than" [sic] box.

If You Want To Nuke It All...

If your goal is to get to a clean slate, with no activity left, then do the following:
  1. Select "Run"
  2. Click "Delete Everything"

7. Wait Until It Finishes

You can go do something else while it runs.  The year bar on the right is basically your progress bar.  As it moves backwards through the years, it is moving through your posts.

Let it finish.  What does finished look like?
  • An activity log filled with things Facebook will not let you delete (being mentioned or tagged in a post, updates to profile pictures, etc.)
  • You should only see undeletable entries
  • The year may NOT be the oldest year on your account
As for the things Facebook will not let you delete, those things can only be hidden from your timeline.

8. Keep Reloading & Running Until You Are Done

This is important.  Because of the way Facebook likes to feed up whatever the hell it wants to you, you will not be able to do this in one run.

After the first pass, you will see a timeline with only things that cannot be deleted.  When you reload, you will likely see more posts appear.  This is not a problem with the script, it is a consequence of the irregular way in which Facebook feeds your activity to you.

If you see some remaining posts:
  1. Reload the page
  2. Run the script again
It took me a few passes.

It Does Not Delete *Everything*

Because Facebook will not let you delete the following:
  • "was mentioned in" (Tagged in a post)
  • "became friends with"  (When you friend someone)
  • "sent a friend request"
  • "updated his/her pofile picture"
  • "was added to" or "joined" a group
  • "likes" a page - because you have to unlike the page to get rid of this completely
These things can be "hidden", though, and if the script cannot delete an item, it will hide it.

Take note, hidden stuff will not be deleted: This is important; if you hid a post, share, etc. that could normally be deleted, the script will skip it.

Relax, You've Been Erased

Well, at least as much as you can be.  I hope this helped you.

P.S. Are You Worried About This Script?

As I mentioned, scripts can magically do good or bad things.  If you want to be super safe, you can, in increasingly order of rigor:
  • Not use Firefox for Facebook unless you want to clean it out
  • Disable the script
  • Disable the Greasemonkey Add-on
  • Delete the script
  • Delete the Greasemonkey Add-on
  • Delete Firefox
It's up to you.  Scripts can do things you do not want them to do.  I leave it to you to choose.

If you run into problems with my instructions, please comment on this post in case others have the same question.


  1. I'm unable to click any of the options ("delete everything," "older than X days," etc).

  2. Roisin, sorry to hear that. A host of things could be causing such a broad issue and I am not in a position to effectively provide support on the script.

    I would recommend posting feedback on the script page ( or the forum on that site. Someone there may have already had your issue and resolved it.

    Best of luck on a speedy resolution.