There is never one Bad time to delete your Facebook account: Chances are good, you use it less than ever, and every time you log in, you are greeted by a slurry of reheated viral news and life updates from two or three distant acquaintances. Now, however, it feels like a particularly good time to unplug.
There is the ongoing series of Wall Street Journal stories claiming that the company repeatedly ignored internal research on the various damages its products cause. There is the lingering interruption that made you think that so much of the world’s internet activity should not run through a single company. And there is the general feeling that Facebook is probably not that good for society in general. At some point, it’s too much, you know? If you have reached that point, here you can end Facebook for good along with how to limit how much it can track you when you are away.
How to deactivate your Facebook account
Let’s first state that there are a few things you can do that feel like deleting your Facebook account that actually aren’t. Deleting the app from your phone? Catharic, perhaps, but functionally useless. Do you want to deactivate your Facebook account? A little better, as you mostly disappear from the platform, but it still sticks to all your data and waits patiently and indefinitely for your return.
And lo and behold, OK, maybe this is 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 on the down arrow at the top right of the page when loading Facebook. click on Settings and confidentiality, also Settings. From there, turn your gaze to the left panel of options and click Your Facebook information. Then back to the central menu where you can scroll all the way down to Deactivation and deletion. Whoa!
When you click on it, you get the two options announced: deactivation and deletion. It is disabled by default, so click continue Continue to deactivate the account. You will need to re-enter your password, which will unlock a page that requires you to enter a reason to leave and gives you a chance to opt out of emails from Facebook (notifications basically that a friend has invited you to join a group or some even if you are a zombie account) and continue to use Messenger. Select all that apply, press the blue Disable button, and call it a day.
Almost. Deactivation does not achieve much in practice. Messages you have sent to your friends will still be in their inboxes and you will still be shown on their friends list. Posts and comments you have written in groups will still be visible to administrators. And again, these would mean that you have to spend for these processes. All you have to do to reactivate is log in to your account again. It’s like writing a great “leaving New York” essay, but continuing to pay exorbitant rent on a nice little one-bedroom in Astoria.
How to delete your Facebook account in real time
If you are ready to make a more serious commitment to disconnect, first take a moment to consider whether Facebook has data resting on its servers that you may want to keep. Maybe you used it as a photo album in the late aughts. Maybe you have messages you want to stick to. Maybe you made a good post once? If so, how was it then!
The point is, it might be worth saving your Facebook data – or sending it to another service – before you clear your account. This is not difficult to do, although it may take some time. From the same down arrow that you started with before, go to Settings and confidentiality, then Settings. Go to the left pane Your Facebook information. If you just want to switch where you store all those things online, hit Upload a copy of your information, then choose from the nine options it gives you. (This is Dropbox, Google Photos, Backblaze, that kind. Also: Blogger?) Once you have selected a service, you can choose what kind of data you want to transfer and how much of it; for photos you can e.g. set a date range or select specific albums. Make these decisions, connect to the destination service, and let the transfer begin. You may need to go through this process a few times if you want photos to go somewhere and posts and such somewhere else.