Undo “Test Account” on Facebook

23 Feb 2011 Update: Reports from users, as well as my own research, suggest that Facebook has restructured how “test account” works and the solution I found last fall no longer works. I have a support email out to them, as well as some inquiries on their forums. I will report back here if I find anything out; please feel free to do the same in the comments! I also urge all of you to contact Facebook — if becoming a test account is no longer reversible, that is a real calamity.

I did something so utterly alarming earlier today, and it took me so much effort to figure out how to undo it, that I feel obligated to post the solution here.  I accidentally made my main, established, personal Facebook account into a “test account”.  Doing this makes it impossible to interact with anything but other test accounts, so suddenly all of my friends disappeared and to all of my friends I seemed to disappear.

It turns out that “becoming a test account” just means joining the Facebook Test Account Network.  So all you have to do is leave that network in order to get all of your contacts back.  You can do this by clicking “Account” in the upper right of the site.  Under that, click “Account Settings”.  Once there, go to the second tab that says “Networks”.  You should see the Test Account network listed there with a link to “leave network”. Once you leave, all of your contacts and content will be restored.

The Story:

I am currently working on a project where I need to test the output of some specially-crafted Facebook “like” links.  Not wanting to post what I was testing to my real Facebook profile, I asked a developer friend of mine about the proper way to make a test account.  He sent me a link to Facebook’s page “Test Accounts for App Developers”.

Notice that I did not link the phrase above.  I’m not going to link to it until the end of this post in the hopes that you, dear reader, will actually read through all of it and not make the same mistake I did.  Upon arriving at the page, I saw this text, “To make a test account, register on Facebook as you normally would. Then, when logged in to the test account, go to this URL:” followed by a link.

When I read “register on a Facebook as you normally would”, I thought they meant as I normally would as an individual. I had never made a fake account before as I’d been led to think that was poor form.  How was I to know they meant “register A FAKE ACCOUNT on Facebook as you normally would”?

So I clicked, and suddenly found myself in FB Limbo.  I could see my feed, I could see people’s posts, but I couldn’t interact with them and they couldn’t interact with me.  It was like being a ghost!  On Facebook.

After searching the internet for over an hour — rather frantically, I admit — I found a conversation called Facebook Test Accounts on [Facebooker-Talk]. I admit I found that page rather early on, but couldn’t figure out what they meant — I wasn’t thinking of my primary account as a test account, so the language tripped me up. I emailed one of the participants and he redirected me right back to the same conversation. So I read a little more carefully.

Incidentally, there is another page on the Facebook site that is a little more sufficiently alarming than the one I stumbled upon. Neither of them has a confirmation screen of any kind, which maybe they could use? Here they both are:

Test Accounts for App Developers
Become a Platform Application Test Account

Be careful!

20 Responses to Undo “Test Account” on Facebook

  1. Jon says:

    Thanks… this post saved my ass. What a pain to figure that out. I have my Facebook account set to Russian and I didn’t pay close attention to what would happen if I set my account to a test account… little did I know… :-)

  2. Doug says:

    Thank you sir! I didn’t exist for ~10 minutes! Was about to delete my account and start a new life.

  3. Guillermo says:

    Thanks for this post!

    I made a test account of my personal one and it was scary for a few minutes!

    Cheers ;-)

  4. craig says:

    I am in the middle of this mess. I go to get out of the network and it says I am not a member of any networks. Any ideas?

  5. mert77 says:

    @craig aynı problem bende de mevcut ağlarda hiç bir ağda değilsin yazıyor. Bilgisi olan?

  6. Jason says:

    Same problem as Craig — the Facebook Developer Test Network doesn’t show up on my account. Dang it!

    I sent a message to developer support, I hope it works out…

  7. J8H says:

    My primary account was turned into a test account, and, like you were, I am utterly alarmed. I came across this blog, but when I tried the solution, I was only in the two networks I was in before. I’m not in an other one. Do you know any other solution? Thanks

  8. Jordyn Bonds says:

    I created a new test account — wholly apart from my main Facebook account — in order to see how this process has changed. It does seem as though they’ve disabled the ability to undo becoming a test account!

    I am going to continue investigating — I have a few support emails out — and will report back anything I find out. If any of you find out anything, post here!

  9. Sanjeev says:

    hi,
    my friend tested this on my account and now there is no info left on my account. please fix this soon. its really embarrassing :(

  10. Sanjeev says:

    hi koni,
    I tried the link u had given. But it wont show any network! so there is not way of getting out of this trap “test account”?

  11. Sanjeev says:

    hi,
    They fixed my facebook account finally.
    Thank you so much to whoever fixed it.

  12. angel says:

    Sanjeev;
    Did you send an email to FB or how did they fix your account. I badly need to get back my test account into real account because I unknowingly clicked to test account.
    your help would be appreciated.

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