A growing movement to delete Facebook is spreading across the world.
In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal – in which it emerged that Facebook was being used to gather information to help the Trump and Brexit campaigns – people are leaving the site in protest at the data that is being collected using the site and how it is being used. Some experts have argued that the controversial bits of Cambridge Analytica's tracking aren't actually unusual or remarkable at all, but instead a central part of how the site works.
The concerns have come to light yet again after Facebook revealed that a bug in its code exposed 50 million accounts.
The first step to take is to decide whether you're really sure you want to delete your account. Facebook offers a much less permanent option, called deactivation, which will stop your account from appearing in search and for other users, but allows you to bring it back.
But for that reason Facebook still needs to hold onto the data it holds on you. Deactivating might stop Facebook tracking you in the future, since you won't be using it – but all the information it has collected will still be around.
If you want to get rid of it entirely, then you can delete your account and with it the information that has been stored about you. (One useful middle ground can be to delete all of that and then start again, but don't add any friends or information to your account, and don't use it any more than you need to – that way you keep your place on the site, and can use it for whatever you need, while also ensuring that data gathered about you is kept to a minimum.)
Deleting your account is a major step, so think it through before committing. Facebook can take up to 90 days to process account deletion requests, but once your account's gone, it’s gone forever.
Before taking the plunge, it’s well worth downloading a copy of the data Facebook has on you.
To do this:
- Click the downwards-pointing arrow in the top-right corner of the screen
- Select Download a copy of your Facebook data
Once that’s done, you’re ready to delete your account. Bear in mind, however, that your sent messages will continue to exist even when all other traces of your account are gone.
To permanently delete your Facebook account:
- Head to Facebook’s Delete Account page
- Select Delete My Account
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