Getting Off Facebook: An In-Depth Guide
Getting off Facebook isn’t easy nor simple. You do not need to go to the extremes that I did to simply delete or deactivate your Facebook account.
As long as you don’t have an issue with your Profile that does not into Facebook’s rigid help system or creates some kind of glitch (as in my case) there are ways to minimize your Facebook interactions, therefore making yourself less valuable as a collection data points.
Turning off advertising on Facebook is a good first step. The steps for turning off Facebook ads are described in Part 1 of How To Get Off Facebook. You can find the tool for turning off Facebook ads (as well as ads on some other online services) here.
Another approach is varying degrees of “Facebook diets.” Diets usually involve simply using Facebook less. A step above this is “benign neglect,” simply stopping using Facebook for a long period of time.
There are several paths within Facebook leading to the links for downloading your data and to deleting or deactivating your account.
You can find the deactivate link though the Facebook Activity Log or under the Settings or from your Personal Settings page, where the link is located at the bottom of the settings box.
Getting Off Facebook: Downloading Your Facebook Info
At the risk of jumping too far ahead, I’ll mention here that Facebook allows you to download a copy of ALL of your Facebook information.
The bad news is it doesn’t make the information portable, meaning that if you found another social media and wanted to import your Facebook data you probably could not.
Click-By-Click Instructions for downloading a copy of your Facebook data:
1. Click the down arrow at the upper top right of the Facebook banner visible on every page.
2. Go to Settings
3. The bottom of the main menu click on the Download a copy of your Facebook data link.
Once you’ve downloaded your Facebook information as a hedge against account deleter’s remorse, you can proceed with restricting or deleting Facebook and still be able to at least return to the point where you downloaded the data.
Axe The Apps: A Good First Step To Getting Off Facebook
Another important step for controlling you data is turning off or deleting Facebook apps.
Like many Facebook features, Facebook Apps have a problematic history.
Exploiting a perfectly acceptable at the time Facebook app feature is how Cambridge Analytica acquired the data of about 87 million Facebook users.
Prior to 2016, Facebook apps could ask to access not just your data, but also all of the data of all your Facebook Friends. If 250,000 Facebook users with an average of 150 Friends each took a personality quiz, the quiz takers were providing information of 150 times that number. One quiz with 275,000 users responding would yield information for at least 41.25 million Facebook users.
This changed in 2014 when Facebook apps were restricted to gathering information only from users who signed up for them. However, this feature was not applied to all Facebook apps until some time in late 2015.
Despite plugging the Cambridge Analytica data gathering loophole, Facebook apps that you have directly enabled can still reap a signifcant data harvest your Profile, including information that might surprise you.
If you are planning to delete all of your data deleting and shutting off apps is a good first step. If you are going to completely delete you account you must delete all apps.
Remember, . You may want to leave Messenger until the end. This will allow to communicate with your soon-to-be former Facebook Friends during the process of departing.
The app settings page on Facebook is the place to manage the apps you’ve given access to. This link brings up a list of apps under “logged in with Facebook”.
Turn off any app you do not recognize. Turn off any app you don’t like. If you’re deleing ALL of your data Facebok will ask you to delete ALL apps.
Hopefully you’ll recognise most of them – if there’s any you don’t, consider clicking the “X”, removing them from your account.
Taking Getting Off Facebook To The Next Level: Delete or Deactivate?
Permanently Deleting Vs. Deactivating Your Facebook Account
Delete or Deactivate? That is the question.
Facebook has a “gotcha” interaction that will automatically revive your account. Should you log back in before the account is completely deleted, your account automatically comes back to life.
Here you can set some as Your Legacy Contact.
This person is allowed to access your account in the event you die. Even if you are not departing Facebook, designating a Legacy Contact is probably a good idea, no matter your age or demographic.
Facebook’s instructions on how to permanently delete your account – doing it their way.
It’s important to give this page a read, even if you know what you are doing. My rereading of this page helped reinforce the idea that messages and posts may be spread far and wide on Facebook, hiding one of numerous categories of data.
Deactivating your account is the easiest way of getting off Facebook, especially if you have a feeling you will be back.
Deactivation keeps all of your data in place, but as the box below notes, your profile will be disabled, your profile photo removed and, supposedly, your name.
During the deletion process, I discovered Facebook Friends who had deactivated their accounts. While I could not see their Profile pages or their photo, their names remained in my Friends list.
Reactivate your account and Facebook will welcome you back with open algorithms, ready to reap more data from your “free” account.
In fact, the only action needed to reactivate your account is to log on to Facebook.
Beware of this “feature” if your intent is deleting your account using Facebook’s method.
Facebook says it will take an inexplicable 90 days for your data to completely disappear from their clutches after you taken the big step and checked the Delete My Account box. You have to trust Facebook to remove your data for you. You getting off Facebook is something they don’t want to speed up.
Why 90 days? Because Facebook says so, that’s why.
The problem is, when it comes erasing data and a lot of other things, Facebook is not trustworthy. That lack of trustworthiness is probably one the big reasons you are reading this.
Getting Off Facebook: The Full Monty: DIY Manually Deleting ALL Of Your Facebook Data
Performing a manual delete of all of your Facebook interactions – the ones that Facebook allows you to delete – is not for the faint of heart.
It is an amazingly time-consuming task. People with things to do and places to be, like work or enjoying yourself in some non-online activity, will have a hard time putting in the hours it takes to do a complete DIY delete of their Facebook data.
This is especially true if you’ve had an account for several years and/or if you have a lot of friends that you’ve had a lot of interactions with. In my case I’m semi-retired and had the time to dedicate to this effort.
I pursued the manual DIY delete due to the fact that a Facebook technical glitch will not allow me to delete or reactive my Facebook account. Facebook’s Help Center has been absolutely zero help. I speculate that humans actually review less than 99.999999 percent of Help Center reports. It’s even questionable that human eyes scan ANY of these reports.
But I digress. You can read about my epic quest to remove my Facebook data here: The Case Against Facebook.
With warnings made and caveats stated this is what I did to delete ALL of my Facebook interactions myself, without waiting for Facebook.
I call it an epic quest because data scrubbing took the better part of seven days working several hours per day. When I first started the process I didn’t log my hours. After the third day I started logging my time, recording a total of 29 hours during the following four days.
My work in getting off Facebook was aided by an extension for Chrome, my default browser, which allows me to do what Facebook does not – delete items in bulk. Simply called Social Book Post Manager, it was the first tool I found online that looked good.
Once the deleting process began, I saw the fiendish maze Facebook has created, dividing numerous types of interactions numerous ways.
Each different type of post, interactions and reactions had top be deleted one category a time at time. Posts and other interactions would not completely disappear until all of the associated interaction had been deleted as well. If something has a Like associated with it, it must unLiked before you can delete the Like itself.
For example: You make a post with a photo that has a caption attached. People react to your post with Likes, Comments, Sharing to their own page, Shares to other people’s Pages.
Since the Post has a Photo, the photo caption the photo, has likes, caption has its own likes and reactions, comments shares, Likes and so on. If the post goes viral the number of these interactions explodes into a Technicolor rainbow of mineable data for those with skills, resources and motivation.
But should you try getting off Facebook and delete your viral post, you would have to delete each and every one of the interactions in each and every category.
If you attempted this with the features Facebook offers as of this writing means deleting by hand, one interaction at a time.
Some information, such as when I sent people Friend requests, could not be deleted at all, so some data remains.
I soon realized I would NEVER have been able to do the work I did getting off Facebook, even though it took the better part of seven working days, playing by Facebook’s rules.
Clicking on Manage Account will open this page.
As mentioned earlier, it a good idea to designate a Legacy Contact if you’re just deactivating you account.
At the bottom of the page is the Deactivate your account link.
That will open this page.
On this page you are interrogated and then must make some key decisions.
You are forced to explain your reason for departing Facebook. This mandatory. No exceptions
Each of the radio buttons, once clicked, opens a dialog box contain some sort of reasoning why you shouldn’t delete Facebook. Ignore them.
If you check “other” you will be required to put something in the text box. An X works.
Next, check the box opting out of harassing emails from Facebook trying to get you to rejoin their data-harvesting scheme.
The next box regards apps. You may have already deleted these but if not, you can do that here by checking the box. Note: the empty rectangle below Delete applications box is where I removed the ID of app I cannot delete. This was done to protect both the innocent and the guilty.
Remember, as discussed above, this set of apps DOES NOT include Messenger.
The blue button below is the Deactivate button. Clicking this does NOT delete your data. Deactivation is described in detail above.
If you are manually stripping data, there are some types of Facebook data that that Social Book Post Manager cannot remove.
You will still need to remove, by hand, one at time, ALL of the Groups or Pages you have joined or followed, any Groups or Pages you may have created. The same is true of your Photos both on your profile or any Pages you created. Again, by hand one at time.
Pages take 10 days to disappear.
Deleting photos form my Pages was also an issue. Eventually the delete image button stopped working for images on pages. I just have to take Facebook’s word for it that the photos are actually deleted.
Facebook the button on the here may be a browser app for these categories, but I didn’t find one. This doesn’t mean doesn’t exist or soon will. Nor is there any stopping Facebook from blocking these kinds of tools in the future.
The ultimate final step of stripping your data from Facebook is the unfriending process. I unfriended everyone one at a time, alerting each person individually through Messenger and putting up a final Post announcing my breakup with Facebook.
The unfriending process also revealed another class of interaction, one that couldn’t delete. Facebook still showed every Facebook Friend request I had ever sent.
Getting Off Facebook: Click-By-Click Steps For Permanently Deleting Your Facebook Account
This is the method for deleting your Facebook account, but trusting Facebook to scrub your data from the site. You can jump to Step 3 skipping Steps 1 and 2.
It may help to get you data deleted more quickly and it will also help to keep you from logging back on to Facebook, possibly accidentally with asored password. Logging back at any time until your account is deleted will reactivate your account.
Step 1: Generate a random new password.
This helps you to forget your Facebook password and may speed up your account deletion even more.
Step 2: Change your Facebook password
1. Go to Settings and privacy
2. Select security and login
3. Select Change password
Enter the new random password generated in Step 1.
Step 3: Delete Your Facebook Account
Click on https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account
You can find this link by searching the ‘Facebook Help’ Page for ‘how to delete the account permanently’. Then follow the steps. Click on ‘Let us know’ link.
You should then see this message.
Step 6: Account deleted! Do not log in to your Facebook account in next 14 days or your account will be immediately revived. Facebook says it can take up to 90 days for them to scrub all of your data.
But wait there’s more!
Do you use your mobile phone to access Facebook? Really? A lot? We need to talk.
Getting Off Facebook
See Part 3: Getting Off Facebook And Your Phone (And Tablet). Coming soon.