Advertisement
Technology

How to Quit Facebook

If the social media giant's recent data scandal has you ready to delete your account, here's what you need to do.

Facebook is in clean-up mode after being called on the carpet for failing to protect users' personal information. This week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took the hot seat for two days of Congressional testimony after we learned late last month that Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics and political consulting firm, accessed a massive trove of data from Facebook users without their consent. Facebook later said that the firm gained access to the private data of as many as 87 million users, not the 50 million previously reported.

But you can't clean up a data spill. Facebook is trying to repair the damage, announcing plans to prevent further misuse of user data and to make its privacy controls easier to use. And Facebook is allowing you to check if your information was part of Cambridge Analytica's sweep.

Advertisement - Article continues below

So far, the changes are cosmetic -- and Facebook users remain concerned. Those who fear that their personal photos, lists of friends, contact information and social media behaviors might be mined for commercial or political gain are looking for ways to limit what they share or to sever ties with Facebook completely.

There are several ways to disconnect. Some people simply limit their use of the service by deleting the app from their phone or temporarily deactivating their account. But if you're serious about disconnecting from Facebook, you can delete your account completely -- causing your photos, status updates, messages and everything else to disappear forever. And after breaking up with Facebook, you may want to cut ties with Instagram and WhatsApp, which are both owned by Facebook.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

If you're ready to break up with the social media giant, here's what to do to delete your Facebook account:

Step 1. If your profile includes anything that's important to you -- say, pictures that you have not saved elsewhere -- start by downloading your personal archive.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Soon, Facebook will introduce an easier way to download your data. But to get a copy of your information in the meantime, log into Facebook and access the drop-down menu in the top right corner of the screen. Select "Settings" to visit the General Account Settings page. Click "Download a copy of your Facebook data" at the bottom of that page, then "Start My Archive."

Getty Images

Facebook will send you an e-mail to confirm the request, then another e-mail with a link to download a .zip file of your data. Depending on how much information you've posted or shared with the site, it may take several hours to complete this process. The link to download your data will expire in a few days, so follow it right away to download your trove of posts, photos, videos and other information.

Step 2. If you're currently using your Facebook profile to log into other accounts, you'll lose access to those services when you delete your Facebook profile unless you change your log-in information for the other accounts.

Advertisement - Article continues below

To see which apps and websites are linked to your Facebook account, return to the Settings page via the drop-down menu and select "Apps" from the menu on the left. Visit each of those services, sign into your accounts and update your login information to be sure you'll have access after deleting Facebook. (Instead of trying to commit all these new log-in credentials to memory, consider using a password manager to keep your usernames and passwords organized and secure.)

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Now you're ready to pull the plug on Facebook.

Step 3. Visit the site's Delete My Account page at facebook.com/help/delete_account. This will take you to a page explaining that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the information you added to the site.

Getty Images

Step 4. Click "Delete My Account." A pop-up window will ask if you're sure you want to permanently delete your account. To continue, enter your password and complete the Captcha before clicking "OK."

Getty Images

Step 5. Another window will appear to confirm that your account has been deactivated and will be permanently deleted in 14 days. At that point, nobody will be able to see your Facebook account, but it may take as long as 90 days for Facebook to delete all your posts from its system. Some information -- such as messages that you sent to friends -- may still remain in their inboxes.

Getty Images

Step 6. Stay strong. For the next two weeks, if you try to sign back into your Facebook account you'll be able to do so, but doing so will rescind your request to delete your account. After two weeks, you won't be able to retrieve any of your information or reactivate the account.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

How To Buy a Roth IRA When You Make Too Much To Qualify For One
Roth IRAs

How To Buy a Roth IRA When You Make Too Much To Qualify For One

With their tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals, Roth IRAs are a great deal — if you qualify. If you don’t, well, there’s still a way to get into …
September 23, 2020
Social Security Recipients, Veterans Must Act Now to Get Extra $500 Stimulus Check
Coronavirus and Your Money

Social Security Recipients, Veterans Must Act Now to Get Extra $500 Stimulus Check

The deadline for seniors and veterans to request an additional $500 stimulus check for a dependent child is approaching fast. See how you can claim yo…
September 25, 2020
High-Tech Aids for Aging in Place
Caregiving

High-Tech Aids for Aging in Place

Apple Watch and other technology provides fast feedback, comfort for older users, and a powerful assist for caregivers.
September 23, 2020

Recommended

When Is Amazon Prime Day 2020?
spending

When Is Amazon Prime Day 2020?

Circumstances beyond its control have forced Amazon to move its annual Christmas-in-July Amazon Prime Day blowout sale in 2020 to ... later. Is Oct. …
September 22, 2020
18 Things You Can't Return to Amazon
Smart Buying

18 Things You Can't Return to Amazon

Before tossing these items into your virtual shopping cart, be sure to read Amazon's return policy first.
September 17, 2020
No Summer Vacation This Year? What to Do with the Money You’ve Saved
spending

No Summer Vacation This Year? What to Do with the Money You’ve Saved

Maybe that trip to Hawaii you dreamed about didn’t happen, but look at the bright side: You have a nice little windfall to plan for.
September 2, 2020
The Five Top Consumer Complaints
Smart Buying

The Five Top Consumer Complaints

Here are the top five complaints from a survey of state and local agencies from 19 states.
August 27, 2020