How to deactivate or delete your Facebook account

If you feel like taking a break from Facebook, the platform provides the option of deactivating or deleting their account. 

We all get overwhelmed by social media sometimes, but before taking a step back, first you should decide whether you want to stop using Facebook temporarily or permanently.

In this article, we’ll dive into the difference between deactivating and deleting your Facebook account, and we’ll tell you how to do it. 

Deactivating or deleting your Facebook account: what's the difference?

When you deactivate your Facebook, most of your information is hidden, but you can go back reactivate your account whenever you want to. When you delete your Facebook, your account is gone, and you cannot recover it.

Put simply, if you want to stop using Facebook for good, delete it. On the other hand, if you prefer taking a temporary social media detox, deactivate your account instead.

After you deactivate your account, your friends and followers will only see your previously-sent messages. Your information will remain hidden until you decide to reactivate.

Account reactivation is simple: you just need to log into Facebook with your existing user name and password. Once your account is reactivated, you’ll regain access to your photos and posts, and also get reconnected to your followers and Facebook groups.

How to deactivate your Facebook account?

To deactivate Facebook account, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your Facebook account.
  2. Select Settings & Privacy > Settings.
An interface of Facebook account settings
  1. Click on Your Facebook Information
An interface of Your Facebook Information on Facebook settings
  1. Click on Deactivation and Deletion.
An interface of Deactivation and Deletion section on Facebook settings
  1. Choose Deactivate Account.
An interface of Deactivate Account section in Facebook settings
  1. Click Continue to Account Deactivation.
  2. Confirm deactivation.

Upon confirming deactivation, most of your information will not be seen, even by your friends or followers.

If you decide to reactivate your account, simply login to your account, or use your Facebook to access other websites. You’ll need your phone or email to complete the reactivation.

How to permanently delete a Facebook account?

What if you want to permanently stop using the platform? You can choose to delete your Facebook account without the possibility of reactivating in the future. The steps are almost the same as for deactivation. Here’s what you’ll have to do:

  1. Go to your Facebook account.
  2. Select Settings & Privacy > Settings.
  3. Click on Your Facebook Information
  4. Click Deactivation and Deletion.
  5. Choose Permanently Delete Account.
  6. Click Continue to Account Deletion.
  7. Select Delete Account, and provide your password.
An interface of Delete Account section on Facebook settings
  1. Click Continue.

Permanent deletion leads to losing your Facebook profile, posts, Messenger conversations, and photos without any option for retrieval. However, messages sent to friends will remain visible.

For a Facebook account to be deleted, you’re given a time period of 30 days before the account vanishes for good. During these 30 days, you can decide to cancel the deletion of your Facebook account. The process of cancellation is as easy as clicking on the Cancel Deletion option in Facebook settings.

How to download your Facebook data?

To download your Facebook data, complete these steps:

  1. Go to your Facebook account.
  2. Select Settings & Privacy > Settings.
  3. Click on Your Facebook Information.
  4. Next to Download Your Information, click View.
  5. Manage what kind of data you’d like to download by clicking on the boxes on the right.
  6. You’ll be able to select the format, and the quality of your data. You’ll also get a chance to set a specific date range.
  7. After selecting the information you wish to download, click on Create File to confirm the download request.

How to change your privacy settings on Facebook?

If you’re considering deactivation or deletion of your Facebook account for privacy reasons, why not start by changing the privacy settings instead of leaving the platform altogether.

To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your Facebook account
  2. Select Settings & Privacy > Settings.
  3. On the left, click on Privacy
An interface of Privacy Settings and Tools on Facebook settings

Now you’ll be able to adjust your privacy settings, including who is able to see your posts or add you as a friend.

What’s next after deleting Facebook?

1. Delete your Instagram account

When people delete Facebook, they often forget about Instagram. Many people run dual accounts on Facebook’s sister platform, and unless you delete both, Facebook will continue to hold your data. So, if you’re serious about deletion, you’ll want to erase your Instagram account as well.

2. Delete your Twitter account

Twitter uses everything but direct messages to tailor the ads for you. What's more, it has your IP, device type, and contacts from other apps, such as email. If you want to put an end to this, learn how to delete your Twitter account.

3. Let others know you deleted your Facebook account

Don’t forget to tell contacts about what you’re doing. Even though we’ve discussed a few downsides to Facebook, it’s still the place to follow friends and colleagues and stay in touch. If you rush the deletion process, you could easily sever the fragile connections with people you value.

4. Reclaim your privacy by encrypting your online traffic

After you delete Facebook, take your online security and privacy to the next level.

There are many pitfalls along the way that enable Facebook to retain bits of your data. Inserting cookies and trackers into your browser to monitor your online activities is but one method Facebook uses to keep its hooks in your life.

Why delete Facebook, at all?

Not long ago, most would’ve been surprised when you told them you’ve deleted Facebook. Now, millions of users have left. But why? There are several reasons:

1. Facebook is unhealthy – according to the internet pioneer Jaron Lanier, the way Facebook was designed makes it inherently harmful. The system of “likes” and the way news feeds are constructed is all intended to turn users into addicts who can’t turn away from their feed. And when they’re addicted, they become easy targets for social engineering projects.

2. Facebook is socially dangerous – Facebook isn’t just a danger to the individual. As the Cambridge Analytica scandal and allegations about Russian “fake news” have shown, it can be gamed to influence democracy in dangerous ways.

3. Facebook has a bad history of spying on its users – when people sign up for social media, they don’t sign up to become targets for one of the world’s most sophisticated surveillance systems. But that’s exactly what Facebook is. Everything you do and say on Facebook is monitored, logged, and sold to advertisers (as well as, possibly, governments). Are you comfortable with giving away so much personal information?

It’s easy to see why there is a growing movement for deleting Facebook. People are waking up to the significant downsides attached to social media in general, and Facebook in particular. But as we’ve seen above, actually extricating yourself from sites like Facebook is harder than you think.

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Lori Anderson
prefix 3 years ago
If you deactivate rather than delete your account, can Facebook still monetize me? I am fed up with the political garbage the social media giants have helped create. Selfishly I do like having Messenger. I have signed up for Signal as an alternative just in case.
Greg Packer
prefix 3 years ago
Too much personal and company information splashed all over the site without my permission.Please delete my account altogether.
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