Picture taken on May 12, 2012 in Paris shows an illustration made with figurines set up in front of Facebook's homepage.
Joel Saget—AFP/Getty Images
By Nicole Carpenter
July 24, 2019

Facebook has agreed to pay a record $5 billion settlement to resolve an investigation into privacy violations, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Wednesday. The company will also create an “independent privacy committee” to ensure “greater accountability at the board of directors level,” an FTC press release says. But the settlement won’t affect Facebook’s corporate governance structure, which lets Zuckerberg hold sway over the company’s actions.

Facebook has promised to clean up its act when it comes to privacy matters. But the social media giant’s missteps have nonetheless cost it the trust of some users. 74% of adult Facebook users have either adjusted their privacy settings in the last year, taken a break from the site, or deleted the Facebook app from their phones, according to the Pew Research Center.

Of course, there are also more extreme measures you can take if you no longer trust Facebook — including deactivating or deleting your Facebook account. Alternatively, you can review how much information you’re sharing with and on the platform. Here’s how to do all of those things.

How to permanently delete your Facebook account

To completely remove your Facebook profile and all the photos, videos, status updates and so on you’ve shared over the years, you’ll need to permanently delete your Facebook account. Doing so will prevent you from using Facebook Messenger, as well as disable any Facebook-based logins you use for other services, like Spotify. (Facebook says you’ll need to contact those sites to set up a new login.)

After deleting your Facebook account, you’ll have a 30-day window to change your mind. Once those 30 days are up, all your information will be permanently deleted and inaccessible. (Your information won’t be viewable to other Facebook users during the 30-day period.) Facebook suggests users download their Facebook data—posts, photos, comments, and other profile information—before deleting an account. Facebook can create a password-protected file containing all your posts and other content that’s downloadable a few days after being requested.

To permanently delete your Facebook account, navigate to the Setting page through the downward facing arrow at the top right side of the site. Click the Your Facebook Information link under Security and Login and navigate to the Delete Your Account and Information link. Once there, you’ll have the option to Deactivate Account, which will allow you to either keep Messenger access, Download Your Information, or Delete Account.

Assuming you’ve already downloaded any data you want to keep, click Delete Account. You’ll be prompted to enter your Facebook password. Click Continue and then Delete Your Account.

Again, you’ll have 30 days to change your mind before all your Facebook data is permanently deleted. (To stop a deletion in progress, log into Facebook and you’ll be prompted with the option to Cancel Deletion.) Facebook says that some information, “like messages you sent to friends,” could still be visible to other users even after your account is deleted. Anything your friends have posted about you will also remain on Facebook, since that’s their data and not yours.

Deactivate your Facebook account

There are other ways to take a step away from Facebook besides the nuclear option of fully deleting your account. Deactivating your Facebook account won’t delete any of your data, but it will make your page inaccessible to other users. It might be a good option if you want to take a break from Facebook but don’t want to go so far as deleting your account entirely. Deactivating your Facebook account will also allow you to continue using any Facebook logins and Facebook Messenger.

To deactivate your Facebook account, navigate to Settings through the downward-facing arrow on the top-right side of Facebook. Click Settings. Next, click on General and navigate to Manage your account. There you’ll have the option to Deactivate your account.

Manually delete information

Depending on your privacy settings, everything you’ve ever posted to Facebook, as well as anything you’ve been tagged in, may be viewable on Facebook’s Your Information page. Your data is separated into different categories, including posts, photos, likes and more. This is handy if you don’t want to delete all your Facebook data, but simply want to scroll through your user history and curate what your Facebook page displays.

You can also manually delete your information on this page — but it will likely be a time-consuming process if you’ve been on Facebook for a while.

After navigating to the Download Your Information page as described above, you’ll see a link to the Access Your Information page. If you’re interested in deleting things that you have posted to your own Facebook wall, click on the first option: Posts. From there, you can choose to see Your Posts, Posts You’re Tagged In, Other People’s Posts To Your Timeline, Posts Hidden from Your Timeline, Notes, and Polls. Navigate to the section you’re interested in curating. If that’s posts, click Posts. Facebook will list each post you’ve ever made categorized by year. Within each year, posts are categorized by month.

If you want to delete a certain post, you’ll need to click the pencil icon on the right side of the post. There will be a few options depending on the post. To delete, click Delete. There are also options to hide content or allow content to show up on your timeline.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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