Ever think about closing your Facebook account? Some people have good reasons for wanting to do so. Maybe it bugs you that the social network seems to be forever making changes to how it operates or doing things such as posting on users’ behalf without giving sufficient notice. Perhaps you don't want to worry about the privacy threat you and your spouse pose when posting. Or maybe you’d like some time back in your life and simply want to spend less time online.
Whatever your reason for ditching Facebook, you should know it’s a relatively easy thing to do. There are two ways to quit—one that’s reversible in case you change your mind, and the other permanent, for those who are certain they want out.
Deactivating Your Account
Deactivating your account puts it on hold and hides your timeline on the site. Facebook doesn’t delete any of your information just in case you want to come back into the fold. I’ve actually used this option in the past and it’s an easy way to take a break from Facebook and then later switch the lights back on. Once you do, everything comes back—your friends, your likes, previous posts and anything else you did at the site.
You should know, however, deactivating your account does not remove your name from your friends’ lists of friends. If it bothers you that your friends might wonder why they’re not seeing your posts, but can still see you as a friend, it might make sense to let them know you’re leaving the network for a while.
If you want to give deactivation a shot, visit https://www.facebook.com/editaccount.php.
Deleting Your Account
Deletion is the other option and it’s only for people who are absolutely sure they’re never coming back to Facebook and don’t mind the idea of starting from scratch in the event they do change their minds.
When you delete your account, Facebook permanently removes it. Facebook says the deletion process typically takes about one month although “some information may remain in backup copies and logs for up to 90 days.”
To delete your account, visit https://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account.
Keep in mind that messages you’ve sent to other people or posts you’ve shared with groups remain on Facebook even after you delete your account.
Download Your Facebook Data, or Personal Archive
Before permanently deleting your account Facebook recommends that you download a copy of all the data Facebook has on you, what it calls your “personal archive.”
Even if you’re staying on Facebook it’s a good idea—you might be surprised at how much there is.
I’ve only been using Facebook since 2010 and when I downloaded a copy of my account information, Facebook provided me with 46MB worth of data—a list of every message I’ve ever sent someone there, a list of every friend I have on the network, copies of any photo or videos I’ve ever uploaded to the site, and much much more.
It took some time for Facebook to compile all this stuff; in my case, it was over an hour before I received an e-mail from Facebook indicating that my data was ready for download.
Why do you want all your data? For one thing, it’s pretty enlightening to see the vast amount of information you’ve shared on Facebook. I’m only a casual user and probably only check in for a few minutes a week yet somehow I’ve shared an incredible amount of information about myself.
Plus, some of your information might only exist on Facebook. The company points out that “…you may have lost your mobile phone, which contained many photos you took using that phone. If you had uploaded those photos to Facebook, then downloading your information lets you get copies of them back on to your computer.” Indeed, getting such photos back would be handy.
If you do decide to download your personal archive, make sure to store it somewhere safe. It will likely be a huge repository of personal information you likely don’t want to share with others.