How to delete your Facebook account
Facebook is at the heart of the tech industries privacy problems that have been revealed in the last few years. Since 2016, when we discovered that user data were given to Cambridge Analytica during the United States presidential campaign. Since then, a flood of authors and talking heads have alerted us to the whole industry’s questionable privacy practices. What it reveals: If you really want privacy, you have to stop using those services, chief among them is Facebook. To help you take your privacy back, we put together this guide on how to delete your Facebook account.
Other privacy options before you delete your account
Before you learn how to delete your Facebook account, let’s take a look at some of the other privacy options Facebook gives you. If you are on the fence about what to do, maybe these privacy settings will help you keep your social media use while minimizing the data Facebook keeps and shares.
The first place to begin is in your settings section. To get there, go to Facebook, and click on the triangle in the upper right hand corner. When the menu drops down, click on settings.
Security and Login
The fastest way to lose access to all your data is through a hack. By hack, we don’t mean that someone broke into your account. Usually, nefarious people don’t actually crack a password. Instead, they get it by phishing schemes or through social engineering. Facebook gives you several tools to keep people out even if they have your password.
First, they let you see on which devices you currently have open sessions.
You may notice that you don’t have to enter your password every time you go to Facebook. That’s because you don’t log out when you leave the site. You can manage which devices allow this and which don’t through this section. To log out on a device, click the three dots to the right of the device. Then select the option you want.
Next comes two-factor authentication. When you turn on two-factor identification, Facebook requires a code to log into your account on a new device. There are two primary options and two backup options.
- Phone: Facebook will text a code to your phone
- App: You can use a code generator app already on your phone. This eliminates privacy worries about texting.
- Security key: If you have a physical security key, you can set Facebook to use that.
- Recover codes: You can set a number of custom codes.
Lastly, you can add a little extra security by asking Facebook to encrypt notification emails. This only works if you have notification emails enabled, of course.
The privacy settings deal with who can see you and your activity on Facebook. The first option sets the default audience for every post. You can set it for
- Friends except…
- Specific friends
- Only me
Activity log is where you review what other people post about you. We’ll look at this option more, later. You can also limit your past posts to the current setting. If your posts were public before, you can change all the past ones to whatever you want.
The second set of options controls how people can find you on Facebook. The most important privacy settings are what information people can use to find you on Facebook and whether your account can be seen through a search engine.
Timeline and Tagging Settings
Your timeline and tagging settings controls who can post on your timeline and how you review that activity. You can select any number of options for who can post on your timeline, and there are also options for who can “tag” you in photos. If you want maximum privacy, barring deletion, you can change all of these options to the strictest setting.
The most important one is “timeline review.” This option allows you to review what photos and posts actually appear on your timeline. If a friend posts a photo of you that you don’t like, you can review the post and hide it from the timeline. Easy enough.
I bet you didn’t know that this was an option in Facebook. Yep, Facebook can track your location if you let them. To stop that, you have to go to the app on your phone.
You can, however, delete your location history from your computer. It is much safer to stop location tracking completely than to delete your history occasionally.
Face recognition allows Facebook to recognize your face on your friends photos and your photos. With this turned on, Facebook will suggest a tag for you when it sees your photo.
Apps and Websites
This section lists all the apps and websites you have linked to your Facebook account. A link allows Facebook to monitor your activity on the website in question as well as give information to the website itself. It’s a massive privacy intrusion. You can get rid of any apps that use Facebook here.
Facebook collects your search history from the pages and individuals you search. You can easily modify this. To get to this option, click in the search bar. You’ll see “edit” on the right. Click it.
If you want to clear all your search history, you can do so by clicking the link circled in red.
You can also delete individual items. Click on the circle with the line through it and it will give you the option to delete.
Photos and Videos
In the same section as your search history, you can see your photo history, too. You can search and filter the many photos you’ve uploaded, and you can delete individual ones or change the audience. To delete, click on the pencil on the right. To change the audience, click on the button i
mmediately to the left of the pencil.
To delete more than one photo at a time, you need to navigate to the photos section of your profile.
Next, go to albums. In the lower right corner of each album is three dots. Click on that, and Facebook will give you the option to edit or delete the album.
If this isn’t enough privacy, go on to the next step.
How to delete your Facebook account
It’s much easier to learn how to delete your Facebook account than it used to be. Not long ago, the process was long and complicated. Facebook’s complicated process kept people from doing it, simply because it was so difficult to understand. But now, perhaps due to consumer pressure, it’s relatively simple.
There are two options, deactivation and deletion. Deactivation doesn’t remove your information from Facebook, but it does make it so no one can look at your profile or timeline, send a friend invitation, or tag you in a photo. It does allow you to keep using messenger, though. If you like messenger but want your info hidden, this is the option for you.
Deletion is exactly what it says it is. Facebook permanently deletes everything you’ve uploaded to it.
How to delete your Facebook account
After you log into your account, go to the settings page. There’s a triangle in the upper right corner of the page. If you click it, a menu will drop down. Click on “settings.”
After you click “Settings,” Facebook will navigate to a large settings menu. Click on “Your Facebook Information” on the left menu.
Next, you’ll see a series of options. On the bottom is “Deactivation and Deletion.” Click on “view” on the right.
Next, you’ll see a page with two options, “Deactivate account” and “Permanently Delete Account.” Select the option you want and continue.
Once you’re past there, Facebook will ask you to confirm your selection and confirm that you are who you say you are. If you select deactivate, you can reactivate it by logging into Facebook. If you select delete, it’s permanent. Now you know how to delete your facebook account.
Facebook proper isn’t the only way that Facebook gathers your data. The company also uses their messenger app to glean more information about you.
In April 2018, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, admitted that Messenger scans every message sent through the app. That means every bit of text and every photo runs through Facebook’s system.
They claim that the system only scans for text and images that are harmful. They run the text and images through a program that flags content for moderation. If the moderators find it harmful, they can remove it. Facebook says that they do this to remove images like child pornography or violence, and they remove messages that call for violence against others.
They also claim that they will not use your messenger information for advertising.
Still, Facebook messenger is another way by which your privacy is compromised. Even if you believe that Facebook is keeping to its word, there are still ways for people to intercept your Facebook Messenger traffic.
The new Facebook Messenger
Facebook recently bought the privacy-centered message platform, “What’s App.” What’s App focused on encrypting messages and keeping their person-to-person communication secret. With end-to-end encryption, it became more difficult for snoops to intercept messages.
The new Facebook Messenger is said to include many of those features. It will make end-to-end encryption the standard feature, rather than an opt-in option. They also hope to make the app run more quickly and take up less memory.
Even with encryption, Facebook will still be able to monitor everything you send through it’s platform. If you want to use it, you’ll have to trust that they’re keeping their word.
Internet Privacy Big Picture
Facebook is just one piece in the puzzle of internet privacy. So much of the internet is a balance between costs and benefits.
- How much privacy do you want to give away in exchange for a service?
- Are the benefits of Facebook worth the data you share?
- Does gmail give enough for you to surrender your email to big tech?
- Do cloud drives deliver enough convenience to justify sharing your files with the host?
These are questions every person should ask. You should know, and think about, what you’re giving in exchange for these internet service. Even if you eventually decide that the services are worthy your data, you shouldn’t just assume. These companies use our ignorance to mask how much surveillance they do. Even if you know how to delete your Facebook account, that doesn’t mean you want to. What matters is that you have your eyes open, and you are educated about what you’re giving up to big tech.
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