Lost faith in Facebook after data leakages, breaches and too much noise? Here’s a guide to breaking up with the social network and its photo-sharing app for good.
You may have decided enough is enough: It’s time to delete Facebook.
There have been months — or is it years now? — of bad news about the social network. In October, Facebook revealed that a security vulnerability exposed up to 50 million accounts to being hijacked by hackers. Through the vulnerability, a hacker could take over your account — meaning anything you ever posted on Facebook, or even apps that you connected with using your Facebook account, could have been infiltrated.
“People’s privacy and security is incredibly important, and we’re sorry this happened,” the company said at the time. “It’s why we took immediate action to secure people’s accounts and fix the vulnerability.”
The breach followed a scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, the voter-profiling firm that got its hands on the private data belonging to millions of Facebook users. More recently, The New York Times reported that Facebook gave other technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it had previously disclosed.
Maybe you are just tired of the partisan yammering and updates from the six-degrees-of-friends.
I have some firsthand experience with all of this. After the disclosure of Facebook’s breach, I felt my trust in the social network was broken. So I pulled out my data from Facebook and purged the account. What I found out about the process: The more you have integrated Facebook into your life, the more time-consuming it will be to delete it.
To make account deletion as painless as possible, here is a step-by-step guide. I also included steps on breaking up with Instagram, Facebook’s photo-sharing app, for those looking for a cleaner getaway.
Step 1: Assess what you might lose
Before you commit to breaking up with Facebook, it’s important to handicap the potential collateral damage. Some products and services are deeply integrated with Facebook and could become difficult to use without the social networking account.
The quickest way to test the waters is to deactivate your Facebook account, which is essentially an account suspension that can immediately be reversed. To deactivate, you simply click through your settings and select “Manage Your Account.” Then click the button marked “Deactivate your account.”
When I did that, I noticed I could no longer run Instagram ads to promote my dog’s Instagram account because the advertising tools are directly tied to Facebook. So if you are a business owner who advertises products on Instagram, deleting Facebook would cut off that marketing channel.
Deactivating my account also broke access to apps and websites that I used my Facebook account to sign up for. I found I could no longer easily get into Pinterest because I had used my Facebook account to register for the virtual scrapbooking service. To regain access, I reactivated my Facebook account and then went into my Pinterest settings. Once there, I disconnected the Pinterest account from Facebook and reset my Pinterest password. Then I logged back in to Pinterest with my email address instead.