Recent events, or simply the general state of social media, might have you considering a Facebook break. That’s not everybody’s option; in that case, tighten your account settings. But if you’re skeeved out by getting your data mined for political ends without your permission, there are ways to get out of the big social network. If you’re ready for a break from social media, here’s how to delete Facebook.
Facebook gives you two options: deactivate or delete
The first could not have been better. Click the drop-down menu at the top right of your computer on the phone, and select Preferences. Select General at the top left and edit next to “Manage Password.” Scroll down and you will see a button at the bottom to “Deactivate your Account.” (Here’s the direct link to use while logged in.)
If you’re on mobile, navigate to Settings & Privacy > Settings > Account Settings > Personal Information > Manage Account > Deactivate on iOS or Android.
Facebook doesn’t take this lightly — it’ll do everything it can to hold you alive, including emotional manipulation on how much you’ll miss your mates.
“Deactivation” is not synonymous with quitting Facebook. Sure, your profile will vanish, you will not be able to access the platform or your account through mobile devices, friends will not be able to post or contact you and you will lose access to all those third-party services that use (or require) Facebook to sign in. Yet Facebook isn’t blocking the website. Why? Why? And you can turn it on later.
Just in case that expected re-activation isn’t in your future, you should download a copy of all your data on Facebook — posts, photos, videos, chats, etc. — from the settings menu (under “General”). What you find might surprise you.
To fully delete your Facebook account forever and ever, go to facebook.com/help/delete_account. Just be aware that, per the Facebook data use policy, “upon deleting information from your profile or deleting your account, copies of that information that remain viewable elsewhere to the degree that it was shared with others, was otherwise transmitted in compliance with your privacy settings, or was copied or saved by other users.”
Translation: If you’ve written a comment about a friend’s status update or photo, even after you delete your own profile, that will stay. Some of your posts and pictures can stick around for as long as 90 days after deletion, as well as not live on the internet, but only on Facebook servers.
There is now a 30-day deletion-grace cycle (up from 14). That means there is a month before your account is removed from Facebook, just in case you change your mind. It’s just one more way Facebook cares.
Deletion on behalf of others
If you want to notify Facebook about a user you know is under 13, report the account, you narc. If Facebook can “reasonably verify” the account is used by someone underage — Facebook bans kids under 13 to comply with federal law — it will delete the account instantly, without informing anyone.
There’s a separate form to request removal of accounts for people who are medically incapacitated and thus unable to use Facebook. To do so, the requester must show that they are the guardian of the individual affected (such as by attorney’s power) as well as give an official note from a doctor or medical facility describing the disability. Write down any information needed to preserve any privacy, such as medical account numbers, addresses, etc.
If a user has passed away, a legacy contact — a Facebook friend or relative who was appointed by the account owner before they died can access the timeline of that person once Facebook has approved it. A connection to an obituary or other documents, such as a death certificate, can need to be issued by the legacy contact. Facebook will “memorialize” the page so the deceased’s timeline lives on (under control of the legacy contact, who can’t post as you) or if preferred, remove it.
Designate a specific legacy contact person to handle your account after your passing. You can find that under Settings > General > Manage Account > Your Legacy Contact. If you have set up one, you will receive a Facebook email each year to double-check that the connection will stay the same, unless you are opt-out. You have the option to make sure that your account will be deleted after you die if the legacy contact reports you to Facebook as deceased — even if the legacy contact wants to memorize the timeline.