Facebook has very quickly created a global empire, like nothing seen before. Across the world, Mark Zuckerberg’s baby counts around 2.25 billion users – a number that no nation or imperial ruler has ever been able to match.

But, like most empires, Facebook has a dark side. With great power came an urge to control and profit from its user base. And this has led in return to a still rather small but rapidly expanding movement to erase Facebook from peoples’ lives.

This article is our “how to delete Facebook for beginners”. The task isn’t as easy as it should be, so pay attention. And be sure of what you’re doing before you start. In a world where our lives often revolve around social media, deleting Facebook is a huge step, and with the below method, there’s no coming back.

So let’s start by taking stock. Why would you remove a Facebook account? As we’ll see, there are some very strong reasons that should make anyone think twice before adding to their feed, or keeping the their account up all together.

Why would you want to delete Facebook?

Not long ago, people would have been surprised when you asked them how to delete Facebook. As the social network grew, and people raved about how it enhanced their social lives, very few users sought an escape hatch. But that’s all changed.

Now, millions of people in Europe have left Facebook, but why are they doing so?

  1. Facebook is unhealthy – As internet pioneer Jaron Lanier argues, the way Facebook was designed makes it inherently bad for you. The system of “likes” and the way news feeds are constructed is all intended to turn users into addicts who can’t turn away from their feed. And when they are addicted, they become easy targets for social engineering projects.
  2. Facebook is socially dangerous – Facebook isn’t just a danger to the individual. As the Cambridge Analytica scandal and allegations about Russian “fake news” have shown, it can be gamed to influence democracy in dangerous ways. So why not make a political statement by giving the network a cold shoulder?
  3. Facebook has a bad history of spying on its users – When people sign up for social media, they don’t sign up to become targets for one of the world’s most sophisticated surveillance systems. But that’s exactly what Facebook is. Everything you do and say on Facebook is monitored, logged, and sold to advertisers (as well as, possibly, governments). Are you comfortable with giving away so much personal information?

Those reasons alone make a strong case for removing Facebook from your life. And we could add more. Is it really a truly rewarding way to live, always comparing your life to others’ in such detail? Do you really need the temptation of checking up on exes (Hello Zuck!) or being examined by potential employers?

So it’s easy to see why there is a growing movement to delete Facebook. People are waking up to the significant downsides attached to social media. But here’s the thing: actually extricating yourself from sites like Facebook is harder than you think.

With that in mind, here’s a step by step guide about how to delete Facebook that will remove all traces of your existence on the world’s biggest social network.

How to delete Facebook completely

Before we get started, it’s important to note that Facebook puts obstacles in the way of people who want to leave. In itself, that would be a reason good enough to erase your account already. Who wants to be associated with an organisation which makes it hard to find the exit?

Firstly, the company has deliberately entangled itself with third-party apps and websites, making erasing your account a much more complex undertaking.

More insidiously still, Facebook has created a system where users can “deactivate” their accounts. Users might think that this removes their data from public view, but it does no such thing. Deactivated users are still present in feeds and can be tagged into photos. They just won’t know about it.

Still, if you want a halfway option between full deletion and just logging out, deactivation is worth trying. Here’s how to do it.

How to deactivate your Facebook account

Remember, deactivation is not deletion. We’re just offering it as one option. Think of it as a trial run to see if you can live without Facebook.

  1. Load up your Facebook app as normal.
  2. Head to the “Account” menu in the top right-hand screen.
  3. Choose the “Settings” option from this menu.
  4. Pick the “General” option at the next menu.
  5. Choose “Manage Your Account.” (there are lots of steps to go through)
  6. Choose the option to “Deactivate Your Account”. You’ll be asked to reconsider, and then to finalise your decision.

From a deletion perspective, this does very little. In fact, all you need to do is enter your old login details to the Facebook front page, and you’ll recover your account in its entirety.

There’s not much difference between deactivation and logging out. So if you want to go further, you need to think about deletion.

How to delete Facebook completely

In this case, things are a little more difficult, but shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

Before you go any further, remember that deletion is permanent. There’s no going back with this method – which is what you want, right? If not, stick to deactivation until you’re ready to proceed.

If you’re still keen to continue, here’s how to do so. Firstly, it makes sense to backup your conversations and photos:

  1. Go to the Facebook settings menu in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Choose the “Facebook Information” option.
  3. Click on “Download Your Information”.
  4. Choose the dates you’re interested in, pick all types of data and choose “high” for media quality.
  5. If you are migrating to another social media network, pick the “JSON” format. If you just want to browse your Facebook history at leisure, choose “HTML”.Finally, choose the “Create File” option and your history will be downloaded.

When that’s done, you can move onto deleting your account and data. Let’s start with the data. This has a few stages.

  1.  Remove app associations between Facebook and third-party apps. To do this, head to the “Settings” menu and choose “Apps and Websites.” Then flag all of the apps you use and click on “Remove”.
  2. Turn off the Facebook app. Head to “Apps, Websites and Games” on the “Settings” menu. Click on “Edit” and then “Turn Off.”
  3. Flush your Facebook history. To do so, head to the “down arrow” icon in the top right corner and press on the “Activity” link. Now, delete everything in your history.

Now, for the final step: deletion. You can still go back at this point, so if you’ve reconsidered and don’t want to delete Facebook, now is the time to bail out. But if you’re brave enough to continue, deletion is pretty simple:

  1.  Go to the “Settings” menu in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Choose the “General” option.
  3. Now choose “Delete My Account and Information.”
  4. Finally, press the blue “Delete Account” button and you’re all done.

Well, you’re actually not quite done. Facebook has a final surprise in store. Apparently, it takes three months (or 90 days) to completely remove yourself from the network, so there’s a chance your avatar will be hanging around for a while yet.

Is there anything else to think about after deleting Facebook?

When people delete Facebook, they often forget about Instagram. Many people run dual accounts on Facebook’s sister platform, and unless you delete both, your data will continue to be held by Facebook. So if you’re serious about deletion, you’ll want to erase Instagram as well.

And don’t forget to tell contacts about what you are doing. Even though we’ve discussed a few downsides of Facebook, it’s still a place to follow friends and colleagues and stay in touch. If you rush the deletion process, you could easily sever fragile connections with people you value.

However, there still exists some seriously compelling reasons to delete Facebook. Hopefully, we’ve given you the knowledge you need to completely erase your presence on the site, enabling you to join the resistance. But remember: there are plenty of pitfalls along the way which enable Facebook to retain bits of data, so be thorough, and double check you’ve covered every angle.

And once you are done with deleting one of the biggest spying app on the planet from your life, why don’t you have a look at our Best VPN reviews and choose one to be your future surfing companion? You look like someone to whom privacy and security matter. Installing a VPN client is therefore the next rightful step to take towards a healthy online life.