How to delete your Facebook account

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Facebook is a great way of keeping in touch with friends but its greatness does come at a price that some people find too high.

To make its cash, Facebook uses the information you post about yourself. The more you post, the more money the firm can mak with advertstargeted directly at you. Facebook's internal software reads your status posts, works out what you're talking about, and inserts adverts that it thinks you'll be interested in.

Post about fitness, and fitness ads appear. Of course, your desire to part company with Facebook may be less high-minded. Perhaps you've fallen out with a friend or you're simply tired of Facebook. Whatever your reasons, here's our guide to expunging your Facebook page on your own terms.

How to delete your Facebook account

1. Think carefully before you act

There are many reasons why people consider cutting ties with Facebook. Whatever your reason, think carefully before you make a rash decision. We're going to look at both deactivating and deleting your account. If you take the latter route, there's no going back.

How to delete your Facebook account

2. Block ex-friends and annoyances

If you've fallen out with someone, you can block them so they can't see things you post, tag you or start conversations with you. You can block friends' event notifications and apps from pestering you, too.

So, if you see unwanted faces in your feed, try blocking them first.

To remove that now less-than-significant other from your timeline, click the down arrow at the top-right. Click 'Settings', then 'Blocking'.

Enter the person's name in the 'Block users' bar. Find the person you're after and click the 'Block' option.

How to delete your Facebook account

3. Back up your life

If your love affair with Facebook is truly on the rocks, you have two options – deactivating your account temporarily and deleting it permanently.

Whichever you choose, it's a good idea to back up your data first. It would be a shame to lose your cherished memories.

How to delete your Facebook account

4. Preserving what matters

Click on the down arrow in the top-right of Facebook's main page. Now click 'Settings', towards the bottom of the list. Next click 'Download a copy of your Facebook data', then 'Start My Archive'.

How to delete your Facebook account

5. Deactivate your account

Deactivation removes most of your information from Facebook but gives you the option to go back, should you choose.

Click on the triangle icon at the top-right. You're then taken to the Security Settings page. Select 'Deactivate your account'.

How to delete your Facebook account

6. Are you sure?

You're presented with the faces of friends the service says will miss you, and a questionnaire about why you're thinking about leaving.

Assuming your mind is made up, answer the questionnaire and click 'Confirm'. To sever ties completely, tick 'Email opt out'.

How to delete your Facebook account

7. Reactivate if you change your mind

If you change your mind, you can reactivate your account. Go to the Facebook website and sign in with your email address and password.

If you've forgotten them, click 'Forgotten your password'. Fill in your email address and Facebook helps you reset your password.

How to delete your Facebook account

8. Delete your account permanently

If it's time for a clean break, deleting your Facebook account is the only option. Here your data is deleted permanently.

However, according to Facebook's terms and conditions – which you signed when you joined – deleting your account can take up to 90 days.

How to delete your Facebook account

9. Remove your tags

One of the reasons it takes 90 days is complexity. One of Facebook's most useful features is the ability to add name tags to people pictures.

When you delete your Facebook page, Facebook needs to ensure you're not tagged or mentioned anywhere by anyone.

How to delete your Facebook account

10. Ask friends for help

We recommend emailing people you'd like to keep speaking to and asking them to do you a few favours. First, ask them to delete any posts or photos that contain your name and image.

Facebook will probably remove you automatically but your friends can help.

How to delete your Facebook account

11. Delete your Android Facebook app

You need to delete your Facebook apps from all your devices. On a newer Android device, tap the home icon, then swipe from the left to bring up a menu of options. Tap 'Uninstall'.

All your icons should have a red cross in the corner. Tap 'Facebook' then 'Uninstall'.

How to delete your Facebook account

12. Delete Facebook on an Apple device

On an Apple device, go to the main screen where you can see all your apps' icons. Find the Facebook app, press on its icon and hold your finger down.

All the icons should start to jiggle and show red crosses in their corners. Tap again and accept the prompt that appears.

How to delete your Facebook account

13. Take the big step

On your final device – we recommend a PC for ease – go to Facebook's delete account page and enter your password.

Click 'Delete my account'. Enter your password again, plus the jumbled-up looking text. Click 'OK' and accept the prompt.

How to delete your Facebook account

14. What if I change my mind?

If you panic and want to run back to Facebook, begging for forgiveness, don't worry – you have 14 days' grace. To turn back the clock, log into Facebook and you can reactivate your account. Otherwise, your account will be well and truly deleted after 14 days.

How to delete your Facebook account

15. Meet somewhere else

For all its faults, Facebook is a great way of keeping in contact, so it's worth finding another way to talk with distant friends and relatives, such as meeting in the pub, talking on the phone, email or Twitter.

Keep the channels open because it's a lonely world without friends.