Social networks walk a fine line between being a useful tool and a crippling addiction. Whether you want your free time back, or don’t like your information scattered about on the Internet, you may be considering deactivating some accounts. Coming to this conclusion is one thing, but actually being able to hit the delete button is another story. Social media outlets make money off of you and your information, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they don’t want to let you go. Because of this, many have made it complicated to delete your account. But if you are set on getting rid of them, here’s what you’ll have to do.
You’ve had your Facebook account for about a decade and in that time you’ve posted a little too much personal information. Maybe you’re just sick of all the baby pictures and slightly offensive status updates your friends are sharing. You’ve had enough.
If you’ve ever deactivated your account you may have noticed that everything goes back to normal the next time you log in, as if nothing has happened. That’s because deactivating your Facebook account is not the same as deleting it. When you deactivate your account, you are just hiding your information from searches and your Facebook friends. Although it’s not visible, your account information is still intact on Facebook’s servers, eagerly awaiting your return.
Deactivating your account is as easy as going into your settings, clicking Security, and then “Deactivate your account.” But finding the delete option is harder. The easiest way to delete your account is by clicking the lock icon in the top-right corner, then the search icon, then typing “delete account.” This will bring you to the page where you delete your account. There’s more help here.
Once you fill out the form on this page, Facebook will permanently delete your account. However, they don’t do this until 14 days after you submit your request. You know, in case you change your mind.
If you decide to get rid of your Facebook account, you may want to download your account information before you delete it. The information downloaded includes everything from the photos and statuses you post, to the ads you’ve clicked and IP addresses you’ve used. The list of what’s included is extensive, but you can view it in its entirety here. Also, due to the nature of this data, you’ll want to keep it in a safe place.
To download your account, go into Settings > General Account Settings > Download a copy of your Facebook data and then click “Start My Archive.” When your download is ready, Facebook will send you an email with a link to download. For added security, this link will expire after a few days, so act fast.
Even though it’s such a mobile-first service, Instagram doesn’t let you delete your account through the app. Instead, you’ll have to log into your Instagram account via the web to delete it.