Video: Worried about your Facebook data? Check the new privacy settings
In the wake of Facebook's massive mishandling of user data, you may be inclined to delete your entire account's existence off the social network. We're not going to judge.
Facebook previously revealed up to 87 million Facebook users had their data improperly accessed. Cambridge Analytica harvested information belonging to millions of Facebook users to determine and influence how they may vote at the ballot box during US President Donald Trump's election campaign. The scandal has rocked Facebook's stock price and its trust with users.
Deleting vs deactivating: What's the difference?
Facebook allows users to delete or deactivate their account.
Deleting your Facebook account
Deleting a Facebook account removes it from public view on the social network, alongside anything you've ever posted or uploaded to its servers.
Since some things like messages aren't stored on your account, your friends may still be able to see them. When you delete your Facebook account, you can't regain access once it's completely deleted by Facebook.
Facebook is on the internet, so it's important to remember some things just can't be deleted forever.
Deactivating your Facebook account
Deactivating a Facebook account enables users to hide their timeline, profile, and posts out of public view. You can reactivate whenever you want. Of course, some content like messages may still be visible by friends.
How to delete your Facebook account
- Login to Facebook.com with your username and password
- Navigate to Facebook's delete account page
- Confirm to Facebook you want to delete your account and data
To delete your Facebook account, you have to submit a form to Facebook.
From there, you'll acknowledge that Facebook is deleting your account on your behalf, and you will not be able to reactivate your account. Before deleting your account, be sure to download your Facebook information through a tool on the social network.
Facebook says it can take up to 90 days from the beginning of the deletion process to delete all of the things you've posted, including photos, status updates, or other data stored in backup systems. While Facebook is deleting your account information, it is inaccessible to other people using Facebook. If you have linked Facebook apps, they will also be permanently deleted.
How to deactivate your Facebook account
To deactivate your Facebook account, go to Facebook's settings menu, and then select Manage Account. From there, you'll tap Deactivate next to account.
When your Facebook account is deactivated:
- No one else can see your profile.
- Some information, like messages you sent to friends, may still be visible.
- Your friends may still see your name in their friends list. This is only visible to your friends, and only from their friends list.
- Group admins may still be able to see your posts and comments, along with your name.
Since a lot of information is still public, you should only deactivate your Facebook account if it's a temporary break from the social network, or if you're unsure.
You can still have Messenger with a deactivated account
You can still chat with friends on Messenger, and your Facebook profile picture will still be visible in your conversations on Messenger. Other people can search for you to send you a message, as well.
How to deactivate Facebook Messenger
You can only deactivate Messenger if you previously deactivated your Facebook account.
To deactivate it, open Messenger, then tap your profile picture in the top left corner, and go to Privacy & Terms > Deactivate Messenger. From there, enter your password and tap Continue. Next, tap Deactivate.
To reactivate your Facebook account, you'll need to have access to the email or mobile number you use to log in to complete the reactivation.
So, what's next?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went to Capital Hill to answer lawmakers' questions on the misuse of data. Facebook has repeatedly apologized for the mishap, and it's promising stronger and more transparent user privacy and data settings going forward.