By Julia Glum
March 20, 2018

People around the world are deleting their Facebook accounts this week in the wake of a privacy scandal involving recent U.S. elections, a personality survey and users’ personal data. But if you want to join them and delete your Facebook account, beware: Logging off of the social media site can be a little tricky.

The #DeleteFacebook movement kicked off in earnest after a series of reports broke that a U.K.-based firm called Cambridge Analytica had obtained information from roughly 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge. According to the New York Times, the chain of events started in 2014, when about 270,000 people agreed to take an academic survey and use an app that gained access to their friends’ data. Cambridge Analytica reportedly obtained the resulting information and developed voter insight for its clients, which in 2016 reportedly included the Trump campaign. (The campaign recently told the Associated Press it didn’t use the Cambridge Analytica data, but CBS News reported it did for the primaries.)

Facebook has insisted the Cambridge Analytica news doesn’t amount to a data breach. But many users are fed up with the site, which aside from privacy concerns has been scientifically linked to depression and jealousy.

How to Delete Facebook

Want to take the plunge? Here’s how:

  1. Understand your options. You have a choice to make if you want to get off of Facebook: deactivate or delete. Deactivating is temporary — you can return to the site at any time. Deleting is forever — much (not necessarily all) of your content disappears, and you can’t ever get it back.
  2. Be sure you’re ready. Leaving Facebook isn’t a no-strings-attached situation. Chances are, your account is tied to other apps like Spotify, OpenTable, and Tinder profile. If you want to protect your data but you’re not positive you want to take the radical step of totally deleting Facebook, you can try reviewing your app permissions or using a third-party program to scrub your activity.
  3. Save the important stuff. Before you do anything, Select All recommends you download a copy of all your posts and photos. To do this, go to Facebook, click over to Settings, find General and hit “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” Afterward, Motherboard says you should tell your friends you’re leaving the site. Write down their birthdays and send them your contact info.
  4. Go ahead and do it. Once your memories are safely stored on your hard drive and you’re ready to delete, head to this page. Take a deep breath and click the “Delete My Account” option. Facebook will let you recover your account for two weeks, but it’ll get to work on its 90-day process of scrubbing you from the site.
  5. Be free. And maybe think about deleting Instagram, because Facebook owns that, too.

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