If you’ve had enough of Facebook, you’re not alone. Users have long been growing concerned about wasting valuable time on a site that’s intentionally addictive, and an uncomfortable awareness has been spreading that Facebook’s product is you, the user, since Facebook makes its money by selling advertising that capitalizes on user data.
Add privacy concerns due to hacks and huge ethical concerns about improper access of Facebook user data for political purposes and it’s no surprise that many people are thinking seriously about getting off Facebook. Whether you want to take a Facebook breather or permanently delete your account, here’s how to get away from the platform.
How to Take a Trial Break
If you’re unsure whether you truly can live a full and happy life without Facebook, consider taking a 30-day break. This strategy can help you come to grips with your fear of missing out. When you check back into Facebook after your 30-day hiatus, the odds are that you’ll find out how little you actually missed out on. On the other hand, if you discover that your life truly suffered during your time away, that’s useful information, too.
Cal Newport, author, computer science professor and digital minimalist, recommends that you don’t announce your plans to take a Facebook break. Most people are surprised to find out that no one seems to notice their absence over those 30 days, he notes in his book Deep Work.
Taking a break is a great way to kick the social media habit. Here’s how to take a 30-day timeout from Facebook without deactivating or deleting your account:
- Change your Facebook email address to an email account that you rarely check. If you don’t already have a spare email account that’s gathering digital dust, create a new one.
- Change your Facebook notification settings so that it only emails you about event notifications, photos tags or whatever you think you want to know about during your Facebook break. If you get an irresistible urge to see what you’ve been missing on Facebook, just check that email account instead of logging into Facebook and falling back down the proverbial rabbit hole.
- Change your password to something challenging to remember, and don’t save it to your password folder. This will give you time to rethink what you’re doing if you get into a social media trance and absentmindedly try to log in.
- Delete the Facebook app from your phone. You could still try to log in using your mobile browser, but you’ll have logged out and won’t have your new hard-to-remember password handy.
Whether you take a break for a full 30 days or one week, giving yourself the chance to see how dependent you are on the platform and what life could be like without it is an enlightening experience.
How to Deactivate Your Facebook Account
You can temporarily deactivate your Facebook account, which is like putting it on pause. With this option, all of your data stays on Facebook’s servers, where it’s ready to be reactivated upon your return. All you have to do to reactivate your Facebook account is log in. Also, if you log into any sites where you use Facebook login, like Pinterest or Ancestry, your account will be reactivated.
When your account is deactivated, no one can see your Facebook profile. Messages that you’ve sent to your friends might still be visible, and your friends may continue to see your name in their Friends list. If you’re a member of any Facebook groups, group admins can still see your posts and comments along with your name.
You can choose to keep Messenger active, and if you’re logged into Messenger at the time you deactivate your account, Messenger will remain active. If you need instructions for getting rid of Messenger, you can view them here.
To deactivate your Facebook account:
- Log into Facebook
- Go to Settings
- Select General, which you’ll find in the left column
- Select Manage Your Account
- Click on Deactivate Your Account
You’ll then be presented with further instructions to confirm the deactivation of your account.
How to Permanently Get Rid of Your Facebook Account
To get rid of your Facebook account permanently, you need to delete it. If you do that, you can’t reactivate your account, and everything you’ve uploaded to Facebook will be permanently deleted, including your profile, photos, posts and everything else. You’ll also be unable to use Facebook Messenger. If you’ve signed up with any apps using Facebook login, you’ll need to create new logins for them. Messages you’ve sent to people using Facebook Messenger may remain in their inboxes.
If you’re ready to say goodbye forever to your Facebook account, here’s how to do it.
1. Download a copy of your photos and posts from Facebook if you want them, using the Download Your Information Tool. To use it:
- While logged into your account, click on Settings
- Select Your Facebook Information
- Find the Download Your Information section and select View
- Choose which types of data you’d like to include in the download
- Choose the file format for the download, the quality level and an optional date range
- Select Create File to start the download
Don’t delete your account just yet! Facebook states that it can take several days for them to prepare your download. You can check on its status by visiting the Download Your Information Tool and looking at the Pending Files section. You’ll receive a notification once it’s complete and ready for download. Once it’s ready, go back to the Download Your Information Tool and view Available Files. You can download your file once you’ve entered your Facebook password.
2. Once you’ve downloaded a copy of your Facebook data, you can delete your account with these steps:
- While logged into Facebook, go to Settings
- Select Your Facebook Information
- Select Delete Your Account and Information
- Select Delete My Account
- Enter your Facebook password to confirm
- Click Continue and then Delete Account
If you have any second thoughts about deleting your account, no worries. Facebook lets you cancel your account deletion within 30 days by logging in and selecting Cancel Deletion.
It can take up to 90 days for all of your information to be removed from Facebook.
What will life be like without Facebook? Think about your goals, personally and professionally, and identify activities or tasks you can do when you feel the urge to check in on Facebook or share an update. Instead of staying superficially updated on the lives of acquaintances, you could spend some time taking a good friend out to lunch and catching up on what’s going on in their lives in person.
Facebook keeps pushing for your attention, making it hard to stay focused on the truly important people and things in your life. You can take control of your time and focus again by getting off the site.