There is never any Wrong time to delete your Facebook account: Chances are you’re using it less than ever, and every time you log in you’re greeted with a mush of heated viral news and life updates from two or three distant acquaintances. Now, however, is a particularly good time to unplug the plug.
There is the current series the Wall Street newspaper stories that claim the company has repeatedly ignored internal research into the various damages caused by its products. There is the extended outage that made you think that much of the world’s internet activity shouldn’t go through a single company. And there is the general feeling that Facebook is probably, on the whole, not so good for society. At some point it’s too much, you know? If you’ve made it that far, here’s how to quit Facebook for good, as well as how to limit how it can follow you after you’re gone.
How to deactivate your Facebook account
First, let’s establish that there are a few things you can do that make it appear as though you are deleting your Facebook account that are, in fact, not that. Delete the app from your phone? Cathartic, perhaps, but functionally unnecessary. Deactivate your Facebook account? A little better, as you disappear for most of the platform, but it still keeps all your data, patiently waiting for your return indefinitely.
And look, okay, this might be the right option for you; maybe you want a nicotine patch instead of going cold turkey. There are no wrong answers! To deactivate your account, click the down arrow at the top right of the page when loading Facebook. Click on Settings and privacy, then Settings. From there, rotate your gaze to the options panel on the left, then click Your Facebook information. Then return to the central menu, where you can scroll to Deactivation and erasure. Phew!
When you click on it, you get the two advertised options: deactivation and deletion. It’s off by default, so go ahead and click Continue to account deactivation. You’ll have to re-enter your password, which will unlock a page that asks you for a reason to leave, and gives you the option to unsubscribe from emails from Facebook (notifications, essentially, that a friend has invited you to. join a group or whatever, even if you are a zombie account) and continue to use Messenger. Select all that apply, tap that blue Deactivate button, and call it a day.
Well almost. Deactivation does not add much in practice. Messages you sent to your friends will still be in their inboxes and you will still be on their friends list. Posts and comments you posted in groups will still be visible to admins. And, again, Facebook will continue to keep all of your data in perpetuity. All you need to do to reactivate is to log back into your account. It’s like writing a big essay “Leave New York” but keep paying exorbitant rent for a cute little two-room apartment in Astoria.
How to delete your Facebook account for real
If you’re ready to make a more serious commitment to breaking ties, first take a minute to determine if Facebook has any data on its servers that you might want to keep. Maybe you used it as a photo album at the end of the years. Maybe you have some messages that you want to keep. Maybe you made a good article once? If so, how was it!
The point is, it may be useful to back up your Facebook data – or transfer it to another service – before deleting your account. It is not difficult to do, although it may take a little while. From the same down arrow icon you started before, head to Settings and privacy, so Settings. In this left pane, navigate to Your Facebook information. If you just want to change where you keep it all online, tap Transfer a copy of your information, then choose from the nine options it gives you. (It’s Dropbox, Google Photos, Backblaze, that sort of thing. Also: Blogger?) Once you’ve chosen a service, you can choose what type of data you want to transfer and how much; for photos, for example, you can set a date range or select specific albums. Make those decisions, connect to the destination service, and let the transfer begin. You may need to repeat this process a few times if you want photos to go in one location and posts etc. to go elsewhere.