Deleting a Facebook account

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytical scandal, in which millions of Facebook users had their data harvested without their knowledge or consent, there’s a growing call for people to disconnect themselves completely and retake control of their private lives by deleting their Facebook accounts.

However, deleting Facebook isn;t quite as straightforward as it sounds, as you’ll have noticed if you’ve spent some time trawling through your account options. It takes a little effort to back up your personal data, then totally erase yourself from the site.

If you want to keep using Facebook to keep in touch with friends but don’t want your data shared with app developers, you can disconnect your Facebook account from third-party sites. If you’re sure you want to proceed with the nuclear option, here’s how to delete your Facebook account permanently.

Downloading Facebook data

It’s wise to back up your data before deleting your account. It might take a while for the process to complete – particularly if you’ve uploaded a lot of photos and videos

1. Download your Facebook data

If you’ve been using Facebook for a while, you might have hundreds of photos and videos saved on its servers, as well as thousands of posts and comments. Facebook also stores information about where you’ve logged in, dates and times you’ve clicked on ads, and your account status history.

Before you delete Facebook, save a copy of all this by clicking the down arrow in the Facebook title bar, selecting ‘Settings’ and clicking ‘Download a copy of your Facebook data’. You won’t be able to retrieve this once your account is gone.

Social Book Post Manager

Social Book Post Manager is a Chrome extension that lets you mass delete photos, posts and tags, making it easy to erase your footprints from Facebook

2. Delete your photos and posts

After you delete your Facebook account, it can take up to 90 days for all your posts and photos to be removed. If you don’t want your information to hang around, get a head start by erasing everything yourself first.

Social Book Post Manager is a plugin for Chrome that enables you to delete multiple Facebook posts at once. Back up your data using the instructions above, then install the plugin, navigate to your Facebook Activity Log and choose a specific filter (such as ‘posts you’re tagged in’).

Click the Social Book Post Manager icon and search for a particular text string and/or date range. Posts that match your criteria will be highlighted in yellow, and clicking the ‘Delete’ button will erase them. Take care – there’s no way to restore them once they’re deleted.

Confirming Facebook account deletion

Once you’ve entered your password, there’s no going back

3. Delete Facebook for good

Ready to delete Facebook once and for all? Once you’ve backed everything up and deleted any posts and photos you want removed immediately, visit Facebook’s account deletion page (Facebook isn’t keen on you doing this, so it isn’t easily accessible through the settings menu) and click ‘Delete my account’.

It can take 90 days for everything to be erased from Facebook’s servers, but it will be inaccessible from the moment you click the button.