How and Why to Ditch Your Facebook Account for Good

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I have a love and hate affair with Facebook. On one hand, it’s the only place where I regularly catch up with distant family and friends — including ones I barely know. On the other hand, the social network is a terrible distraction, its often as vapid as daytime TV and it’s pushing the line when it comes to privacy. If you’re thinking about ditching Facebook once and for all, you’re not alone.

Facebook’s latest anger-stirring move has been its experiments with users’ feeds to manipulate their moods. The company wanted to see if it could make users happier or sadder by changing what those 689,003 Facebook users (including those under 18) saw on the network. Facebook’s defenders say this is all part of the social network’s terms of service, although it appears that the clause allowing Facebook to use your data for research wasn’t added until four months after the experiment.

Maybe Facebook crossed a line there. Or maybe they crossed the line when the company said they’d start using your Web history (outside of Facebook) for ad targeting. Or maybe it happened with a number of other things Facebook has done over the years to erode trust.

Privacy issues and emotional manipulation aside, using Facebook might actually make us unhappy. At the very least, it can be a huge time-waster.

Delete your Facebook account

If you’re reading this article, you might not need convincing about leaving Facebook, so use these steps to delete your account:

  1. Download your data. Save your photos and posts by going to the settings padlock in the top menu, More Settings, then General. Click the “Download a copy of your Facebook data” to start the process. This will save your photos, videos, posts and other Facebook information as a Zip file.
  2. Change your login method for apps that use Facebook connect. If you log into any sites using your Facebook account, change how you log into them so they no longer use Facebook. Otherwise, if you use Facebook connect again after deleting your Facebook account, it’ll reinstate your Facebook account. Argh!
  3. Delete your Facebook account. Go to the Facebook deletion page and confirm you really want to delete your account. Note that this is different from the “Deactivate your account” setting under the Security settings. Deactivating simply removes your timeline information and prevents other people from searching for you, but some of your information is still visible and saved by Facebook. Permanently deleting your account won’t let you access your account again, and it removes most personally identifiable information associated with your account.

You might feel uneasy about deleting your Facebook account forever — or maybe you can’t wait to be free of the social network. If you’re not sure, you can always try deactivating first. Maybe you won’t even notice when Facebook is out of your life.

Photo credit: mkhmarketing (Flickr).

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