How to Delete Your Facebook Account (Or at Least Protect Your Data)

The hashtag “#deletefacebook” is currently trending on Twitter. This comes in response to the recent revelation that the data firm Cambridge Analytica accessed the private information of millions of Facebook users. With Mark Zuckerberg admitting fault and Facebook’s stock losing nearly $50 billion, this data scandal is serious business.

This has prompted new questions about how Facebook secures its users data and how potentially bad apps can illegally obtain that data through exploiting various loopholes in Facebook’s business practices. As a result, many are wondering if they should ditch the social media giant for good.

However, deleting Facebook altogether isn’t an option for everyone. For some, Facebook is the way that they stay in touch with family and friends. Others use Facebook to stay connected with social groups and organize events. With Facebook so engrained in our daily lives, many are finding total abandonment a difficult pill to swallow. In addition to deleting your account, there are a number of things you can do to lock your profile down, helping to prevent your personal information from floating around in cyberspace for all to see.

You may have noticed that when you sign up for a service like Spotify, they always give you the option to sign in with Facebook. Super convenient, right? One less username and password you have to remember. The downside is that by using your Facebook credentials to log in to other services or websites, those services and websites have access to your entire Facebook profile. They have access to your profile and information even after you stop using the website or service, keeping tabs on you and your behavior. Makes you feel a bit icky, doesn’t it? Fortunately you can review which third parties have access to your account and block them if necessary.

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To see how many apps you have connected to your account, navigate to the Settings page and click on “Apps” in the column on the left. You can select which services you want to remove at the top of the page. Alternatively, you can disable all of them via “Apps, Website and Plugins > Edit.”

Many Facebook users have played a game or participated in a quiz within the social media platform. Unfortunately, by doing so you’ve essentially granted that app permission to access your profile. If this sounds like an invasion of privacy just because you played Farmville once upon a time, too bad. Buried in the user agreements that no one bothers to read are clauses that make their prying eyes totally legal. Luckily, there is something you can do about it.

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Head back to the Settings page of your profile and click on “Apps” in the column on the left. From there, click on “Apps Others Use.” Here you can pick and choose what information these apps can access, such as your birthday, hometown, and political views.

If you like the idea of deleting your Facebook account but can’t pull the trigger just yet, there is another option. Deactivating your account puts it in a kind of suspended animation. When you deactivate your account, your Timeline, profile, photos and other content is hidden from the rest of the site. The main advantage to deactivating your account is that you have the ability to restore it if you choose to do so. Furthermore, you’ll still be able to use the Messenger app even with your account deactivated. This means you’ll still be able to chat with friends and family.

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To deactivate your Facebook account, head back to the Settings page. From there find the “Manage Account” option and click on “Edit.” At this point you should see some other options including “Deactivate your account.” Clicking on that will bring you to the page you see above. You’ll have to explain to the Facebook overlords why you don’t want to participate in their advertising revenue machine before you can hit that “Deactivate” button.

If you’re completely done with Facebook, you can delete your entire account. Be aware that deletion is serious business. You won’t be able to reactivate your account or access any of your content or information. But hey, isn’t that the point?

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If you’re dead-set on deleting your Facebook account, know that a few things happen. First, deletion isn’t instantaneous. When you tell Facebook you want to delete your account, they delay that request for a few days, in case you change your mind. To override the deletion request, simply log in to your account.

Second, it takes about ninety days for all of your information to be scrubbed from Facebook. Fortunately, none of your information is accessible during this period. Lastly, some information will remain accessible to other users. For example, other Facebook users will still be able to see messages you posted to them, etc.

Of course, you can’t click on ads if you delete your account. As a result, Facebook doesn’t exactly advertise this as a legitimate option. That being said, it’s super easy. Log in to Facebook and click on this link to delete your account and say goodbye to Facebook for good.

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So you’ve decided to take the plunge and purge your life of Facebook. Your mouse cursor is hovering over that deletion button, but you hesitate. What about all of the photos and memories that you’ve posted over the years? Will they be lost forever? Luckily, if you’re afraid of losing content you’ve posted on Facebook like photos, etc, you can preserve it. Just head to Settings > General > Download a copy of your Facebook data.

Have you deleted your Facebook profile? Did you have a hard time pulling the trigger? Did you have social media withdrawals? What do you think of this latest scandal? Let us know in the comments!

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