There was likely a moment — sandwiched somewhere between your ninth check-in at P.F. Chang’s and that embarrassing image of you drunkenly rocking an enormous sombrero — where you asked yourself: Is Facebook really worth it? Perhaps it’s the aforementioned posts leaving you wondering, or maybe the impending threats looming around every corner, or even more likely, the growing skepticism regarding Facebook’s privacy issues. Either way, just because it’s been around for more than a decade doesn’t mean the social networking giant is right for you.
Thankfully, deleting your Facebook profile can be done in a matter of minutes, leaving you with plenty of time to, say, delete that Snapchat account. Whereas deactivating your account will only put some of your information on temporary hiatus, deleting it indefinitely will permanently rid the site of your data, from photo albums and Likes to status updates and timeline info, with no option for recovery. Facebook has provided a disclaimer essentially saying some of the data may remain on the site for technical reasons, but it will no longer be identifiable or searchable as your own. And after 14 days, it will be like you were never there to begin with. Ready to free yourself from social media fatigue? Here’s how to delete your Facebook account for good.
Backing up your Facebook data
Much like anything you don’t necessarily need to do, but desire to do, there’s always a moment of hesitation before you pull the trigger. You’ve likely built up a wealth of Facebook content since you stumbled onto the site all those years ago, a good deal of it in the form of candid photos, messages and other content that speaks highly (or not so much) about you as an individual. Luckily, Facebook allows users to download an archival volume of your data for offline use, including photos, posts you’ve shared, ads you’ve clicked and a host of other data not accessible simply by logging into your account. It’s quick and easy to download, and though it won’t be as exciting as navigating your actual timeline, at least it’s there should you want to virtually stroll down memory lane.
Step 1: Navigate to Facebook settings: Click the dark-blue down arrow in the upper-right corner when viewing any Facebook page and select the Settings option from the resulting drop-down menu.
Step 2: Allow Facebook to gather your data: Select the General tab from the left-hand navigation column and click the blue Download a copy link located at the bottom of the General Account Settings pane. Afterward, click the green Start My Archive button in the middle of the resulting page, re-enter your Facebook password in the pop-up window and click the blue Submit button in the bottom right corner. Click the blue Start My Archive button again when prompted, noting Facebook will send you an email when the gathered information is ready for download.
Step 3: Download your Facebook data: Once you’ve received the email indicating your Facebook data is ready for download — a process that may take up to three hours depending on the amount of information the site needs to process — click the supplied link to navigate to the download page. Afterward, click the green Download Archive, re-enter your Facebook password, select a save location for the resulting folder and click the Save button in the bottom-right corner of the window. Chances are, any data you might want will now be housed within folder.
Removing linked accounts
Facebook’s grace period is a double-edge sword. When you request to delete your account, you’ll be given 14 days in which you can login and immediately reactivate your account. While this may sound convenient should you change your mind within the two-week span, it’s not the most convenient if you’re trying to delete your account once and for all. Utilizing any third-party apps you’ve previously linked to your Facebook account — such as Instagram, Spotify and Twitter — will automatically log you into Facebook, regardless if you’ve chosen to delete your account. That being said, it’s best to remove any linked accounts from the social network prior to deletion. Just make sure to login to the app next time using its respective login credential, not your soon-to-be-deleted Facebook info.
Step 1: Navigate to Facebook settings: Click the dark-blue down arrow in the upper-right corner when viewing any Facebook page and select the Settings option from the resulting drop-down menu (Note: on Facebook’s current interface, the settings option is located a few spaces lower than what is shown in the screenshot. It should still be easy to spot).
Step 2: Remove linked accounts: Select the Apps tab from the left-hand navigation column and click the Show All Apps link located at the bottom of the list of linked apps. Afterward, click the “X” button directly to the right of the app in question, check the box indicating you would like to delete all the app’s activity in the resulting pop-up window, and click the blue Remove button in the bottom-right corner. Repeat the process for all linked accounts.
Deleting your Facebook account
Once you’ve downloaded your data and unlinked all third-party ties with Facebook, it’s time to actually delete your account. Again, there’s no going back once the 14-day grace period has expired, so make sure deleting your account is the right decision for you. Jot down those birthdays and ask your online friends for contact info outside of Facebook. Deleting your Facebook account doesn’t have to mean you’ll drop of the face of the Earth.
Step 1: Navigate to the Facebook Help Center: Directly navigate to the Facebook account deletion form, or search “delete account” within the Facebook Help Center and select the resulting link, to begin the deletion process.
Step 2: Delete your Facebook account: Click the blue Delete My Account button in the bottom-right corner of the warning window, enter your Facebook password and fill out the CAPTCHA test with the appropriate text prior to clicking the blue Okay button in the bottom-right corner. Afterward, click the blue Okay button in the resulting pop-up window, acknowledging your account will be permanently deleted with 14 days.
Step 3: Avoid Facebook: Now just avoid Facebook at all costs for the next two weeks. Do not login to the website, via your desktop browser, mobile device or through any third-party app that you may have logged in with Facebook but forgot to log out of. Your account will be permanently deleted after the given amount of time. If you do login accidentally, repeat the deletion process and ensure you’ve unlinked all third-party software.
This article was originally published in February 2013, and updated in November 2017.