If you’ve finally given up on the world’s most popular social media network, it’s not too complicated to remove yourself from the service. But before you delete all of those pictures, posts, and likes, you should download your personal information from Facebook.
Your Facebook archives contain just about all of the pertinent information related to your account, including your photos, active sessions, chat history, IP addresses, facial recognition data, and which ads you clicked, just to name a few. That’s a ton of personal information that you should probably maintain access to.
To download your archive using the web:
- Click on the “down” arrow in the upper right corner.
- Go to “Settings & Privacy” > “Settings.”
- In the left-hand column, click on “Your Facebook Information.”
- In the center, find and click on “Download Your Information.”
- You can select which info you want to download (or you can just download all of it). At the top of the page, there are drop-down lists that let you create a date range (if you want to), download your data in either HTML or JSON, and choose between high, medium, or low media quality.
- When you’re ready, click on “Create File.” You’ll get notified via email when your file is ready.
After you’ve finished downloading your archive, you can now delete your account.
Beware: once you delete your account, it cannot be recovered.
When you are ready to delete your account, go back to the page headed “Your Facebook Information” and click on “Deactivation and Deletion.” Here, you can choose between temporarily deactivating your account or permanently deleting it.
If you want to delete it, either click on “Delete Account” on that page, or click this link, which will take you to the same account deletion page.
You’ll get another chance here to download your archive or choose deactivation rather than deletion. Once you click “Delete My Account,” your account will be marked for termination and inaccessible to others using Facebook.
The company notes that it delays termination for a few days after it’s requested. If you log back in during that period, your deletion request will be canceled. So don’t sign on, or you’ll be forced to start the process over again. Certain things, like comments you’ve made on a friend’s post, may still appear even after you delete your account. Facebook also says that copies of certain items like log records will remain in its database, but it notes that those are disassociated with personal identifiers.
If you’re really serious about quitting Facebook, remember that the company owns several other popular services as well, like Instagram and WhatsApp, so you should delete your accounts there, too.
Update January 15th, 2021, 9:15AM ET: This article was originally published on September 28th, 2018 and has been updated to allow for changes in the Facebook interface.