Cambridge Analytica: how to delete your Facebook account

If you’ve fallen out of love with the social media site, here’s a guide to pulling the plug

Facebook kids
Fed-up users are spreading the #deletefacebook hashtag on social media
(Image credit: 2013 AFP)

Claims that Cambridge Analytica used illegally harvested Facebook data in a bid to influence the 2016 US presidential election has sparked fear among social media users that their personal information may be at risk.

The hashtag #deletefacebook has been shared by more than 15,000 people on Twitter, amid growing calls for Facebook users to ditch the platform following reports that data was taken from more than 50 million accounts.

One Twitter user wrote: “We all moved on from MySpace we can move on from facebook too.”

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If you are concerned about who has access to your Facebook information, here’s how to deactivate your account or delete it entirely.

Deleting your account

If you don’t want to leave any traces of you account, you’ll need to completely delete it.

Trusted Reviews recommends that before you pull the plug on Facebook, you download a copy of the information stored on your profile. This can be done by heading to the Settings menu and selecting “Download a copy of your Facebook data” from the General tab.

Once you’ve downloaded your information, you can proceed to delete your profile.

The Guardian notes that Facebook doesn’t seem to keen on telling its users that deleting their account is possible, with instructions on how to do so buried in a help document, under the heading, “How do I permanently delete my account?”

Facebook provides a simple link that takes you straight to the hidden profile-deletion page. The link can be found here: Delete My Account.

According to Mashable, Facebook will then remove your data over a 90-day period and you can’t ever regain access to it. Some material will still be accessible to Facebook after your account is terminated, but the information is “dissociated from personal identifiers”.

Deactivating your profile

If you want to keep your Facebook account but wish to temporarily remove it, deactivating your profile is the best option.

Deactivating your account means you will no longer appear on your friends’ contact lists, and you cannot be found when someone searches for you, Alphr reports. However, some messages that you sent to friends “may still be visible to others”, says the website.

To deactivate your profile, follow these simple steps:

1. Make sure you are logged into the account you want to deactivate by selecting it from the drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner of the page. Scroll down the menu and click on Settings.

2. Select the General tab in the menu on the left-hand side of the page and then click the Edit button next to the Manage Account field.

3. This will present a drop-down menu, with the Deactivate Account option located at the bottom.

4. Click the link and follow the on-screen instructions.

According to Business Insider, you can reactivate your account at any time by simply logging back in to the service.

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