How to Break Up With Facebook

Privacy, Technology, Tips & how-to

breaking up with social mediaFeel your privacy slipping away? Concerned about your professional reputation? Addicted to social media? If so, you might be thinking of dumping Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google+. Here’s how to do it.

Delete or Deactivate Facebook

Facebook gives you a choice. You can deactivate your account, which is like a trial separation, or you can delete it, which is like a divorce. Deactivating your account suspends it but keeps all your data, so you can come back to it later. Deleting it means your info is gone for good. Read more on the difference between deactivating and deleting here.  Before deleting, you can download your Facebook data, including your chat history, posts, and photos.

You should know that it takes about one month to delete an account, and that some information may be around for longer. And not everything will be deleted. The messages you sent to friends who are still active on Facebook will remain on their accounts.

Deactivate Twitter

Deactivating Twitter actually deletes your data. From the date of deactivation, your data is saved for 30 days and then permanently deleted. You can reinstate your account any time within that 30-day period. Like Facebook, Twitter lets you archive your account. Go to your settings, scroll down to the bottom, and click the button labeled “Request your archive.” You’ll then receive an email with a link to the archive.

It’s not necessary to delete your entire account just to get rid of one lousy, unfunny, or inappropriate tweet, though. Twitter also gives you the option to delete one tweet at a time.

Close Your LinkedIn Account

You can choose what you want to archive on LinkedIn before you close your account. Within 24 hours it is placed in a queue for deletion; it’s deleted permanently after being closed for 6 months. After shutting it down, expect your profile to be visible for up to 72 hours afterwards.

They also give instructions on how to fix multiple LinkedIn accounts, if that’s your issue.

Deactivate Pinterest

Pinterest doesn’t allow you to delete your information entirely. (You can, however, delete a single pin.) You deactivate your Pinterest account by clicking a button and then confirming it. But don’t log back in; if you do, you’ll reactivate your account. Also, deactivating your account doesn’t dissociate your username and email address from Pinterest. They’re still there.

Delete Google or Google+

Extricating yourself from Google+ is a little tricky, only because Google integrates so many things. Start by exporting your data, including contacts, voice data, and Picasa photos, so you don’t accidentally lose anything.

Check out this information on deleting your Google account. If you accidentally delete it and want to restore it, you can do so “within a limited window of time.” This affects all your Google information, including Gmail. You also have the option of deleting only your Google+ content.

And the Others…?

If you’re still hanging onto an old MySpace account you haven’t checked out since the early 2000’s, just go ahead and delete it. For detailed instructions on how to go about deleting your information from a long list of sites like MySpace, Groupon, and Amazon, check out AccountKiller and Delete Your Account.

Gone but Not Forgotten

Don’t expect to disappear from the internet overnight. Remember that even if you deactivate or delete your accounts, it could be some time before you’re gone from Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and other search engines. They have their own caching procedures that could mean your accounts are visible for a while after deactivation or deletion. You may also discover the data you’d hoped to delete tucked away in some corner of the internet, by a web archiving service, or on a friend’s blog.

Can you ever truly delete anything from the internet? For all intents and purposes, no. Content on the internet is copied from server to server, so erasing every copy in existence is simply not feasible. The data you want to delete may be difficult to find, but it’s best to assume that it’s still lingering somewhere. Be careful what you post in the first place.