The humour in knowing you quite possibly clicked through to this story from Facebook isn’t lost on us, but nevertheless, here we are with some tips on how to quit the social network, or at least limit how much of your data it gets to use. Much of this is good advice for navigating Facebook generally, but it’s particularly poignant in light of the ongoing Cambridge Analytica controversy. If you can’t walk away at least you can lock things down a little better.
Of course, the first instinct many people have had in light of the recent news is to delete Facebook outright. There’s a lot of merit to that instinct. Facebook is a massive time-suck for many of us, and constantly seeing other people living their #BestLives can be exhausting… not to mention depressing. So wanting to ditch it entirely makes sense, but sadly it’s not as easy as simply dragging an app icon to the recycle bin.
Also, we realise that for lots of people they need a Facebook account for work, or find it a useful tool for keeping track of birthdays and events, making giving it the cold shoulder difficult or impossible. If quitting isn’t an option these are some of the ways you can still get utility out of the social network while protecting your privacy.
Take control of your data
The first step is to turn off Facebook’s access to your location services, because this is like having a creepy stalker who knows where you work and where you sleep (and where you do anything else, for that matter). Having it turned on gives Facebook access to every move you make, which of course it wants, because this is hugely valuable to advertisers.
iPhone: To turn off or limit Facebook’s access to your location on iOS, head to your iPhone’s Settings app, scroll down to “Privacy” under the general tab, and tap Location Services.
Android: Head to “Account Settings,” tap “Location.” From there, you can toggle Facebook’s access from on to off.
Second — and this is the really important one — you need to delink all of the dodgy apps that have gained access to your personal data. This is an easy, but crucial step you need to take, and it’s easiest to do from a web browser on a laptop or desktop computer.
On Facebook: Head over to the “Apps” section of your Facebook settings. At the top of the page, you’ll see the total number of apps you’re logged into using Facebook. Simply disconnect them.
Do you feel lighter yet? It’s like a spring clean for your social media – something you should probably do on a regular basis. But we aren’t done yet — you need to edit your “About Me” section to limit the amount of total information you’re sharing with Facebook at all times.
On Facebook: Click on that question mark icon in the upper right corner of the page and click on “Privacy Checkup”. When you get to step number two, you will have the option to go to your About Page. From there, you can edit or delete all types of information you’ve shared on Facebook.
This step needs to be done before you delete your Facebook account once and for all — but can also be done as a general cleanup for the OCD-types
You’ve probably used Facebook to log into other apps and services before. Its a super easy way to log in, and admit it — we are super lazy. Problem is, those logins inadvertently burrowed you deeper into Facebook’s grasp. It’s reversible, but it’ll require some time to undo.
Make a list of all the apps you log into using Facebook. One way to figure this out is to go to Facebook > Settings > Apps. Scroll through this list and make note of the apps and websites you still use. One by one, log into those apps. Visit the Settings page and find the option to disconnect from Facebook. This process varies quite a bit, so you might want to Google “disconnect Facebook from [insert app here]” to speed things up. See this example from Pinterest.
If you’ve decided you want to breakup with Facebook properly, before you hit that ‘delete’ button remember to download your precious memories. This is an easy step that could still be a little time-consuming, depending on how much data your profile is comprised of.
Your Facebook archive contains just about all the information related to your account, including your photos, active sessions, chat history, IP addresses, facial recognition data, and which ads you clicked, just to name a few. That’s a ton of personal information that you probably want to keep (depending on how angry you are at the social media platform).
To download your archive, go to “Settings” and click “Download a copy of your Facebook data” at the bottom of General Account Settings, and then click “Start My Archive.” You will receive an email with a link to download – and voila! You have all your personal info (depending on how long your download takes).
Are you ready? Sure? Here’s how to get rid of Facebook for real:
You have a choice of permanently deleting Facebook, or rather just deactivating your account. Permanently deleting your account is irreversible — all of your data will be removed, your profile will disappear and you’ll need to sign up for Facebook again if you want back in. If you do go this route you’ll need to avoid logging in for a few weeks, otherwise your account will be reactivated. And yes, Facebook is going to try hard to get you not to delete your account. Be strong, click through all the “are you sure?” messages, and in a few weeks you’ll have vanished from the service.
Alternatively, you can take the less extreme route and deactivate your account. This essentially puts your account on hold, so you can restore it to the same state it was in when you left it. This also lets you continue using Facebook Messenger.
Facebook doesn’t have the delete account option in its settings, for some reason. Once you click “Delete My Account,” your account will be marked for termination, and inaccessible to others using Facebook.
The company does warn that your account may take up to 90 days to delete all of your personal information — and you cannot log-in in that time or they will cancel deletion immediately. So self-control is key here. Check out all of the rules here.
If you’re really serious about quitting Facebook, remember that the company owns several other popular services as well, like Instagram and WhatsApp, that also share personal data. We will never truly be safe anywhere on the internet and the key here is to be aware of what you sign up for when clicking that “Accept” button. Most times people willingly give companies access to personal info without knowing.
So what have we learned? Read the Terms & Conditions — no matter how long they are.