I’ll walk you through some simple steps to do it, pointing out a couple of issues that make it easy for the deletion not to happen.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
I have to start by quoting Chris Pirillo’s two-step plan for internet privacy:
While that’s clearly Chris’s attempt to shock you into paying attention to the issue, he has a point.
If you don’t want something to become public, don’t share it online. Period.
It’s a simple plan, and completely insulates you from the privacy policies of various organizations, as well as unexpected changes to those policies over time. What’s private today might not be private tomorrow.
Note: “Deactivation” is not the same as “deletion”.
Deactivation “turns off” your account, but does not remove your data. You can still be tagged in photos, and much of your information may still be visible, either publicly or to other Facebook members.
The idea behind deactivation is that someday you’ll come back and want all your old stuff to be restored.
Naturally, Facebook points you at deactivation rather than account deletion. Visit the Facebook Settings page, go to the General section, and under Manage account, you’ll see the option to deactivate your account.
However, if you’re absolutely positive you want a solution that says “I’m never coming back”, this is not what you want.
You want to delete your Facebook account.
Start by deleting all the ties you’ve created to your Facebook account from outside of Facebook.
Specifically, if you’ve ever used the “log in using Facebook” option on other websites and services, those logins will stop working once your Facebook account no longer exists. Go to each of those sites and change how you log in before you delete your Facebook account.
Are you using a Facebook application on your mobile phone? Delete it first, from all your devices.
Using Facebook Messenger? Delete that too, from all your devices.
As we’ll see in a moment, any still-existing outside connections to Facebook can cause your account deletion to be canceled.
Go to this link:
Follow the instructions there.
After the process is complete, it’s not uncommon to want to try to login to the account to make sure it’s really gone. Don’t do that. It’s also common to accidentally login to the account, either on your computer or via one of the connected apps I mentioned above. Don’t do that either.
DON’T LOG IN TO YOUR ACCOUNT FOR AT LEAST TWO WEEKS.
I’d wait longer.
I can’t stress the importance of this enough. If you log in within two weeks, you will cancel the deletion. If any of those external Facebook applications logs in again, I believe you also risk cancelling your account deletion.
After 14 days, the deletion is permanent. If you change your mind and want a Facebook account again, you’ll need to create a new one.
What am I doing?
I’m keeping my Facebook account.
I don’t share … uh … “stuff” … that I don’t want the world to see. I also avoid Facebook games and polls and quizzes that can slurp up my Facebook information to be used elsewhere for other purposes.
Even if I post something “privately” today, I’m very aware that someday, Facebook could change their terms of service to make my formerly private information public.
Would that be evil? Absolutely — yet Facebook has a reputation for doing so.
I don’t control Facebook. I can only control what I do and what I choose to share. That means that right or wrong, the only way to protect myself and my privacy is to not share stuff I don’t want the world to see.
Assume anything you post on Facebook – even the “private” stuff – will someday be public, and act accordingly.
And for some, “acting accordingly” may mean leaving Facebook.
While I personally don’t see the need and would simply counsel you to be aware of and restrict what you post, share, and how you interact with Facebook, I can certainly understand if deleting your Facebook account is the solution you choose.