How to Permanently Delete Your Facebook Account

Well, almost. Deactivation doesn’t accomplish all that much in practice. Messages you sent to your friends will still be in their inboxes, and you’ll still show up in their friends list. Posts and comments you’ve made in groups will still be visible to admins. And, again, Facebook will continue to hold onto all of your data in perpetuity. All you have to do to reactivate is log back into your account. It’s like writing a big “leaving New York” essay but continuing to pay exorbitant rent on a nice little one-bedroom in Astoria.

How to Delete Your Facebook Account for Real

If you’re ready to make a more serious commitment to severing ties, take a quick minute first to consider if Facebook has any data resting on its servers that you might want to keep. Maybe you used it as a photo album in the late aughts. Maybe you have messages you want to hold onto. Maybe you did a good post one time? If so, what was that like!

The point is, it might be worth saving your Facebook data—or shuttling it to another service—before you nuke your account. This is not hard to do, although it can take a little time. From that same downward-arrow icon you started at before, head to Settings & Privacy, then Settings. In that left-hand pane, go to Your Facebook Information. If you just want to switch where you keep all that stuff online, hit Transfer a Copy of Your Information, then choose from among the nine options it gives you. (This is Dropbox, Google Photos, Backblaze, that sort of thing. Also: Blogger?) Once you pick a service, you can choose what kind of data you want to transfer and how much of it; for photos, for instance, you can set a date range, or select specific albums. Make those decisions, connect to the destination service, and let the transfer begin. You may have to go through this process a couple of times if you want photos to go one place and posts and such to go somewhere else.

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You can also opt to take it all offline entirely by heading to Download Your Information. There are 44 categories of data, and you’re not going to want all of them. (Most people can say goodbye to Facebook without downloading their bug bounty program history.) Take some time to deselect the ones you won’t miss. Set your date range to All Time, set the format to HTML so that you can actually parse it when it comes through, make sure you’ve set the Media Quality drop-down to High, and click Create File. Facebook will notify you via email when your download is ready.

And with that! You’re ready to delete. Follow the same trail as for deactivation (that’s Settings > Settings & Privacy > Your Facebook Information > Deactivation and deletion). This time, select Delete account, then Continue to account deletion. It’ll prompt you to deactivate instead if you want to keep using Messenger, and remind you to download your stuff before you go. Hit Delete account, and you’ll have to enter your password and click Continue. And then poof, you’re gone.

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