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Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service owned by Meta Platforms. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, its name comes from the face book directories often given to American university students.
Membership was initially limited to Harvard students, gradually expanding to other North American universities and, since 2006, anyone over 13 years old. As of 2020, Facebook claimed 2.8 billion monthly active users, and ranked fourth in global internet usage. It was the most downloaded mobile app of the 2010s.
Facebook can be accessed from devices with Internet connectivity, such as personal computers, tablets and smartphones. After registering, users can create a profile revealing information about themselves. They can post text, photos and multimedia which are shared with any other users who have agreed to be their “friend” or, with different privacy settings, publicly. Users can also communicate directly with each other with Facebook Messenger, join common-interest groups, and receive notifications on the activities of their Facebook friends and the pages they follow.
The subject of numerous controversies, Facebook has often been criticized over issues such as user privacy (as with the Cambridge Analytica data scandal), political manipulation (as with the 2016 U.S. elections), mass surveillance, psychological effects such as addiction and low self-esteem, and content such as fake news, conspiracy theories, copyright infringement, and hate speech. Commentators have accused Facebook of willingly facilitating the spread of such content, as well as exaggerating its number of users to appeal to advertisers.
How to Quit Facebook
The words “Delete Facebook” have been trending a lot recently, whether in response to privacy scandals, policies about misinformation or hate groups, or reports about social media’s negative effect on mental health.
Facebook’s parent company, Meta, announced just yesterday that the platform had lost about half a million users in the past three months. This marks the first time Facebook’s user base has shrunk in the platform’s 18-year history.
Meta’s quarterly revenue fell short as well, in part because of a new iPhone privacy setting, according to the company.
It has been a significant week for backlash against the nation’s big tech companies. Over the weekend, Spotify dealt with a similar movement, one that calls for users to ditch the music streaming app after its own misinformation scandal.
If you want to limit Facebook’s access to your personal data or your personal time, you can adjust your Facebook privacy settings. Or follow these steps to promote a healthier experience on social media.
If you’re ready to say goodbye to Facebook, read the following directions first to avoid some pitfalls.
Deactivate Your Facebook Account
If you just want to take a step back, Facebook gives you the option to deactivate your account temporarily. This allows you to reactivate anytime you want to simply by logging in to the site.
While you’re inactive, other users can’t see your timeline, view your photos, or search for you on Facebook. But friends may still be able to read messages you sent them and view your name on their list of friends.
To deactivate in a web browser: Click the downward-facing arrow in the top-right of any Facebook page > Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook Information > Deactivation and Deletion. Choose “Deactivate Account,” then hit “Continue to Account Deactivation.”
To confirm that you’d like to go ahead with the deactivation, you’ll have to enter your password.
Before Deleting, Download Your Data
So you’ve made up your mind to quit Facebook—and you really mean it this time. Beware: Once you cross this line, there’s no going back. Your photos, status updates, and messages will disappear, and your name will vanish from Facebook Search. Forever.
Many Facebook users have a trove of data on the site. Before you hit “Delete,” you may want to download your personal information. You’ll be able to get posts, photos, and videos you’ve shared with others; messages and chat conversations; and the details provided in the About section of your profile. (Click here for a full list of archive data.)
Facebook will generate a copy of your personal archive and send it to you via email with a link to a .zip file. Just be sure to save that file before you delete your account.
Create New Log-Ins for Other Services
If you use Facebook Login to access third-party apps and sites, you may also want to create new log-ins and passwords for those services so that you don’t lose access to the accounts. (Not sure which apps and websites are linked to your Facebook account? Check out the Apps section in Settings for a complete list.)
Going forward, you can keep your log-in credentials and passwords handy across multiple devices with a password manager. You could also log in with Google or Apple credentials if you don’t anticipate ever leaving those companies behind.
This wikiHow teaches you how to sever ties with your Facebook account. Before you do this, you’ll likely want to save a backup of your Facebook information, such as photos and contacts. After your data is safe, you can proceed with deleting your account.
Things You Should Know
- Before deleting your account, let your family and friends know of your plans and be sure to give them other ways to contact you.
- If you want to keep using Facebook Messenger to stay in touch with people outside of the Facebook app, you can simply deactivate your Facebook account without affecting Messenger.
- Deactivating your account is a less-permanent option which removes your profile from Facebook until you decide to sign back in.
- Deleting your account is permanent, so make sure to download all of your photos and other data first.
Decide whether or not to keep Messenger. Facebook Messenger is a separate mobile app that you can continue to use even while your Facebook account is gone. If you decide that you want to delete your Messenger account as well,
do the following after deleting your Facebook account:
- Open Facebook Messenger.
- Tap the profile icon in the top-left corner of the screen.
- Scroll down and tap Privacy & Terms
- Tap Deactivate Messenger
- Enter your password, then tap Continue
- Tap Deactivate when prompted.
- Delete the Messenger app from your iPhone or Android.
Delete posts that you don’t want online. While deleting your Facebook account in and of itself will eventually remove all of your information from online, take care to delete any sensitive or personal posts that you don’t want Google (or other search engines) to archive.
- Archived posts are searchable after you deactivate your account, and can take several weeks to disappear from search engines.
Delete the Facebook app from your phone or tablet. Since you can’t perform any of the next two parts’ steps from within the Facebook mobile app, remove it from your phone or tablet.
- You can delete apps on iPhone and on Android.
If you decide that you no longer want to use Facebook, it’s easy to deactivate your account. When you deactivate your account, you’re hiding all of your information on Facebook. No one will be able to contact you on Facebook or view the things you’ve shared, including your Timeline, status updates, and photos. If you decide that you’d like to return to Facebook, you’ll still be able to reactivate your account and recover your old information.
To deactivate your account:
- Click the drop-down arrow on the toolbar, then select Settings.
- The Settings page will appear. Click Manage Account.
- Click Deactivate your account.
- Select a reason for deactivating the account. If you want, you can add more details in the text box below. When you’re done, click Deactivate.
- Select Deactivate Now.
- Your account is now deactivated. You’ll have the option to reactivate your account at any time by signing in to Facebook with your old account information.
There are two options when it comes to shutting down your Facebook account – deleting and deactivating.
In this guide, we’ll take you through the process of permanently deleting your account. However, if you’re mostly just looking to take a short break, scroll down to the bottom of the page to learn more about deactivation.
It’s important to note that deleting your account will erase all of your posts, photos, videos and pages you control, along with any Oculus purchases and achievements.
You also won’t be able to use Messenger anymore, and any apps you’ve been using with Facebook Login (such as Spotify or Pinterest) will need to be recovered with those websites.
If you’ve come to terms with all of this, follow the steps below to delete your Facebook account permanently.
What you’ll need:
- A Facebook account you don’t want anymore
The Short Version
- Open your Facebook Settings
- Go to Your Facebook Information
- Click Deactivation and Deletion
- Choose Delete Account
- Enter your password to confirm
Deactivating your account does not fully delete it. When you deactivate your account, Facebook saves all of your settings, photos, and information in case you decide to reactivate your account. Your information isn’t gone—it’s just hidden. However, it is possible to delete your account permanently with no option for recovery.
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