Facebook is a very polarizing thing. Some people feel as though they couldn’t live without Facebook, solely based on the fact that everyone else has it. Without Facebook, it’s hard to feel like you’re in the loop with current events, pop culture phenomena, and the activities of your friends and family. Some people would argue that it’s a good thing to distance yourself from those things – live in the real world and avoid putting your every move on the internet.
If you’ve had it with Facebook for one reason or another, there are a few ways you can approach your removal from the site. The first is to put it on pause and keep yourself hidden. The second is to completely delete yourself and your activity from the platform.
Why Delete Facebook?
Facebook may not be the safest way to communicate with your friends and family. For one, they store a shocking amount of data about their users. Facebook tracks everything you like, the accounts you interact with, and the things you post. That information is then used by advertisers to target you with products and services. Any breach of this data would directly result in the malicious entity obtaining your entire digital footprint, which can be a frightening thought. With people living their lives on the internet, it’s not too far off to say that Facebook owns your digital clone.
Facebook has also been scrutinized by what firms they allow access to their userbase and what those firms do with that information. In the past, firms have stared calculated misinformation campaigns in an attempt to sway public opinion, blurring the lines between fact and fiction and leaving the general public confused and misinformed. Perhaps users should stick to the actual news, rather than the things they read on social media.
Should I Delete or Deactivate Facebook?
Facebook allows users two approaches to removing themselves from the website. They can deactivate their profiles, making themselves and their information invisible to other users in their absence but easy to recover if they decide to come back. Alternatively, they can completely delete their profile and all of their postings without an option for recovery. Deleting an account cannot be undone – if you’re unsure of how long you plan to stay away from Facebook, deactivating is the superior option.
Can I Still Use Facebook Messenger?
Messenger is a popular app – it’s easier and more immersive than normal text messaging. Messenger can still be used by people who have deactivated their Facebook accounts. You can continue to keep in touch with people, and do so securely by enabling Messenger’s end to end encrypted “secret conversation” feature. You cannot continue to use Messenger if you’ve completely deleted your account.
The Consequences of Connected Accounts
Facebook has an established relationship with nearly every other website. You can create accounts on those websites or apps (like Spotify) by logging in with Facebook. Everything is a seamless transition – your Facebook profile acts like a key that you can use to access virtually anything. This means that anyone who can access your Facebook can also access all of those accounts, posing a potential security threat.
If you’re not bothered by that implication and you’ve created multiple accounts that depend on Facebook for you to log in, you’re going to lose access to those accounts when you delete your Facebook. You might want to take an inventory of which accounts will be impacted and make a list of places where you want to create new accounts independent from your Facebook profile.
Backing Up Your Data
Whether you’re deleting or deactivating, you might want a copy of your activity. Facebook can send you a downloadable file of your posts, pictures, videos, and memories. If you’d like to keep some of those things, there’s no reason to go through your profile with a fine toothed comb and hand pick them.
On the top right of your page, click “Settings”. Select “Your Facebook Information” and then select “Download Your Information”. Facebook will compile a file for you and allow you to download it. Make sure you store that file securely.
How to Deactivate or Delete Your Facebook Account
Deactivation and deletion are under the same tab. Click on the triangle at the upper right corner of your Facebook page. Go to “Settings”, and then to “Your Facebook Information”. Then, go to “Deactivation and deletion.”
If you want to deactivate your account, select “Deactivate account” and then “Continue to account deactivation”. Type in your password, click continue, and your account will be deactivated immediately.
To delete your account, choose “Permanently delete account” and then “Continue to account deletion”. Click “Delete account.”
Once you have chosen to delete your account, it will become deactivated immediately. Facebook gives you 30 days to change your mind. Once that 30 days is up, you’ve entered the 90 day period they allow themselves to remove your information from the platform. Even still, they won’t be able to erase everything. People you have messaged and things you’ve posted on other user’s walls cannot be deleted. All you can do is ask those users to delete that information for you – Facebook won’t intervene.
Communicating Online Safely and Securely
You can talk to your friends safely and securely online through Messenger’s “Secret Conversation” feature, but not if you’ve fully deleted your account. As an alternative, you can use something like PrivateMail, with OpenPGP encrypted messages and paranoid encrypted cloud storage. Nothing is tracked, no information is stored about you, and there’s no reason to worry about data breeches.