How to delete your Facebook account

How to delete Facebook
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Deleting your Facebook account, and parting ways with the social media platform forever, might be viewed as a drastic measure, but if you've decided to go ahead and do it, it's a fairly straightforward process.

Not surprisingly, Facebook doesn’t want to let you – and more importantly your valuable data – go, which you’ll likely have noticed if you’ve ever spent time digging through your account settings. However, with a little time and effort, you can back up your personal data, and then completely erase yourself from the platform.

Before you delete your account, you should make sure that your friends and family know, as they may need to set up and alternative way to contact you once you no longer have access to Groups and Messenger. You should also go through your friends list and make a note of important birthdays, anniversaries and forthcoming events that are stored on Facebook.

Finally, remember to download all your data before you delete your account, so that you don't lose all the photos and videos you've uploaded – read on to find out how to do that.

So, if you’ve made your mind up, and you’re ready to pull the plug on Facebook for good, here's how…

1. Download your Facebook data

If you’ve been using Facebook for a while, you might have hundreds of photos and videos saved on its servers, as well as thousands of posts and comments. Facebook also stores information about where you've logged in, dates and times you’ve clicked on ads, and your account status history.

Before you delete Facebook, save a copy of all this by clicking the down arrow in the Facebook title bar, selecting ‘Settings’ and clicking ‘Download a copy of your Facebook data’. You won't be able to retrieve this once your account is gone.

2. Delete your photos and posts

After you delete your Facebook account, it can take up to 90 days for all your posts and photos to be removed. If you don't want your information to hang around, get a head start by erasing everything yourself first.

Social Book Post Manager is a plugin for Chrome that enables you to delete multiple Facebook posts at once. Back up your data using the instructions above, then install the plugin, navigate to your Facebook Activity Log and choose a specific filter (such as 'posts you're tagged in').

Then, just click the Social Book Post Manager icon and search for a particular text string and/or date range. Posts that match your criteria will be highlighted in yellow, and clicking the ‘Delete’ button will erase them. Take care – there’s no way to restore them once they’re deleted.

3. Delete Facebook for good

Ready to banish Facebook to the annals of your personal history? Well, once you’ve backed up all your data, visit Facebook’s account deletion page (Facebook isn’t keen on letting you do this, so it isn’t easily accessible through the settings menu) and select “Delete my account’

It can take 90 days for everything to be erased from Facebook’s servers, but it will be inaccessible from the moment you click the button.

Facebook privacy settings

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Alternatives to deleting your Facebook account

If you're not ready to completely delete your Facebook account, there are other ways to increase your privacy without cutting it out of your life completely.

Review app and site permissions

Facebook has tightened up its rules a lot following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and third-party developers can only access data that you've explicitly consented to share. However, it's possible that you've granted permission to some apps and sites that you no longer use, and whose privacy policies might have changed since you first agreed to them.

To check which apps and sites are linked to your Facebook account, open the Settings menu and select 'Apps and Websites'. Scroll down to 'Apps, websites and games', click 'Edit' and deactivate any that you no longer use.

Control tagging in photos and posts

Sometimes, a friend might tag you in a publicly available photo or post that reveals information you'd rather not share. You can untag photos and posts individually, but it's easier to review tags before they're posted.

Open 'Settings', scroll down to 'Privacy Settings' and choose 'Timelines and Tagging'. Scroll down to the bottom and you'll see two options – one for reviewing tags on posts before they appear on Facebook, and another for reviewing tags on posts before they appear on your timeline. Toggle both of these on.

Turn off face recognition

It's not yet available worldwide, but in some locations Facebook can use facial recognition to make it easier to tag people in photos. To deactivate it open 'Settings', scroll down to 'Privacy Settings' and tap 'Face recognition'. Here, you can deactivate the setting so you'll no longer be identified in photos and videos.

Cat Ellis
Homes Editor

Cat is Homes Editor on TechRadar, specializing in kitchen appliances and smart home technology. She's been a journalist for 15 years, is a keen home cook, and is here to help you choose the right tech for your home, get the best deals, and do more with your new devices.