The revelation that Cambridge Analytica allegedly obtained and misused the personal data of 50 million Facebook users has spurred many people to rethink their relationship with the social media site. But breaking up with Facebook isn’t an easy process, since it’s so tightly integrated into other parts of the Internet.
It’s equally tough to stop getting updates from friends and delete all of the memories you’ve posted over the years. But if you’ve made the decision to do so, there are a couple of steps you’ll want to take first. (And if you’re on the fence, there are some ways you can better ensure your privacy.)
So you’re deleting Facebook…
Before you pull the plug, there’s no reason to delete all of your pictures, pithy comments, and back and forth with friends. It’s fairly simple to download your entire Facebook history to your PC.
Head to your settings tab (on a desktop PC) and click on “general.” At the bottom of those options is a link reading “download a copy of your Facebook data.”
With that done, click the “apps” option to see which other sites use Facebook as a login. You’ll want to set up new logins for all of those before you pull the plug.
Similarly, make sure you go through your friends list and take note of the contact information for anyone you want to stay in touch with. (Remember, you won’t have access to Facebook Messenger, either.) Take note of birthdays, also, if you’re someone who enjoys about sending birthday greetings.
All set? Head back up to the general menu and hit the “edit” button next to “manage account.” You can “deactivate” your account, but that’s not a permanent move—and it can be reactivated by using a Facebook login or Messenger.
To fully delete the account, you need to submit a special request (at this link) for Facebook to terminate your account. The company can take up to 90 days to delete your data. Once that’s done, there’s no going back, so be sure of your decision.
So you want to keep Facebook, but increase security…
Total deletion might seem extreme to you, though. There are ways to protect yourself a bit more thoroughly, but it will erase some of the conveniences you’re used to with Facebook. The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes there’s a way to keep your data from going through Facebook’s API, which is how Cambridge Analytica accessed the information.
Head back to your settings and click on “apps“. From there, click “edit” under “apps, websites, and plugins.” You’ll want to click the “disable platform” button on that page.
Another option is to control the information Facebook shares about you. From the apps page, hit “edit” under “apps others use” and uncheck the information you don’t want shared (which can range from religious and political views to you birthday to your activities and interests).