With many of us still stuck at home, social media has become a bit of a lifeline – It can help us stay connected with friends and loved ones as well as expand our social and professional networks. However, social media both increases our risk of being caught up in a data breach and has been shown to negatively impact mental health, leading many to wonder whether it’s time to hit the delete button for good.
Why You Should Consider Breaking Up with Social Media
Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting social media accounts. While most attacks simply leverage social media as a delivery mechanism for malware and phishing scams, more advanced attacks aimed at social media networks are now able to leverage user’s contacts, location data, and business activities to develop targeted malware advertising campaigns aimed at specific users.
Most attacks use compromised social media credentials to discreetly gather personal data on the victim’s online friends and colleagues or take the guise of a classic phishing scam: tricking victims into revealing their password or other sensitive data by using scare tactics and “urgent” messages, purportedly originating from the platform’s internal team. Social media is also taking its toll on our mental health: Multiple scientific studies have found a strong link between social media use and poor mental health, including an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
How to Delete Your Social Media Accounts
Though many social media platforms use dark patterns to actively discourage users from deleting their accounts (or otherwise trick you into doing something you don’t actually want to do), there are steps you can take to break up with social media permanently.
Facebook offers two ways for you to remove yourself from their platform: deactivation and deletion. Deletion permanently removes your account, while deactivation is billed as a way to hide your account on Facebook (though, as one former Facebook user discovered, your account is still live, which means some people can still interact with it).
To deactivate your Facebook account using a web browser, you need to visit Facebook’s site and log in to your account. Next, using the drop-down arrow located in the top right corner of your screen to select Settings. Under General, select the Manage Account option and click Edit, then choose Deactivate your Account. At this point, Facebook will prompt you for your password and ask you to provide a reason for leaving. Select your choice, click Deactivate, and you’re done.
You can also deactivate (but not delete) your Facebook account via the Facebook mobile app. For iOS users, just open the app and hit the menu button (the three-line icon) in the lower right-hand corner. Then click Settings, Account Settings, General, Manage Account, and Deactivate. Android follows a similar process, but you can reach Account Settings from the first submenu.
To delete your Facebook account, you will need to visit this page using your web browser. Once you have logged in, click Delete my Account. Though your Facebook friends will no longer be able to interact with your account, Facebook may take as long as 90 days to delete your data.
Twitter allows users to deactivate their accounts, with un-reactivated accounts being deleted after a set period (regular users have to wait 30 days, while verified users have to wait 365 days before their data is deleted).
To get rid of Twitter, visit the login page in your web browser and log in to your account. Scroll down to the bottom and select the Deactivate your Account option. Once you have read through the information provided by Twitter, you can select Deactivate. You will be prompted to enter your Twitter password and confirm that you really do want to deactivate your account.
Once you have chosen to deactivate your account, Twitter will begin erasing your presence on their platform. Your profile and tweets will be hidden immediately, but Twitter holds onto your data and tweets for either 30 days (regular users) or 365 days (verified users). If you log back into Twitter during this cool-down period, your profile and past tweets will be automatically restored.
Most people don’t really consider LinkedIn to be a social media platform like Facebook to Twitter, but it uses a lot of the same social and engagement patterns.
Start by clicking on your profile icon to open your Settings and select the Account tab. Scroll down to the bottom of the menu and select Closing your LinkedIn Account. LinkedIn will then ask you to specify why you are deleting your account. Unfortunately, you can’t skip this step, so choose whatever answer best fits. You can leave additional feedback if you want, but it isn’t required.
Finally, you will need to enter your password to confirm your identity and your intention to leave, and LinkedIn will once again warn you that this is your last chance to turn back. Once you have entered your password, select Close Account and make sure to check the Unsubscribe from Emails box just to make sure you don’t get any pesky emails trying to tempt you to come back.
You can also choose to “hibernate” (deactivate) your account, which will temporarily remove your account from circulation without removing your data from the site. If you select this option, any previous comments or posts will be attributed to “LinkedIn member”.
Instagram accounts can only be deactivated via their website, not through their mobile apps. Once you’ve logged in, select your profile icon in the top right corner of your screen and select Edit Profile, then click Temporarily Disable my Account. Once you select this option, Instagram will ask you why you are leaving and then prompt you to enter your account password and select Temporarily Disable Account.
Much like Facebook (who owns Instagram), you are only allowed to pause your account, not delete it. Once you temporarily disable your account, other users will no longer be able to view your Instagram page, but the platform will continue to hold onto your data (including photos and comments). If you log in to the platform again, your Instagram account is automatically restored.
To actually delete your account, you need to visit the delete your account page from your web browser. Log in to your account, state why you are leaving, and re-enter your password. Finally, you can click Permanently Delete my Account, which will remove all traces of your account from Instagram’s servers, including all likes and messages.
To delete your TikTok account, start by visiting your profile and open your Settings by clicking the ellipsis in the top corner. Then, select the tab marked Manage my Account and scroll down to the bottom of the screen to select Delete Account. Once you have done this, you will be asked to send yourself a confirmation code via SMS to verify your identity and make sure someone isn’t trying to delete your account on your behalf.
Once you enter the code, TikTok will warn you one last time that you are deleting your account (and explain what that entails). Select Delete Account, and you are done. Unlike other social media platforms, TikTok doesn’t hold onto your data after you choose to leave.
Snapchat also requires users to visit their website to delete an account. Start by logging in to your account, and then re-enter your username and password on the next page (yes, they really do make you sign in twice to prove it is really you and show that you really do want to get rid of Snapchat). Once you click Continue, Snapchat will begin the account removal process.
From that point forward, your friends will no longer be able to contact you via Snapchat, but your account is still active. If you change your mind in the next 30 days and log back into the platform, your account will be completely restored.
If you don’t log in again during the 30-day cooling-off period, Snapchat will go ahead and delete your account.
To delete your Pinterest account, you will need to log in and select the directional down chevron icon in the top right corner (this will open your menu). Select Settings and navigate to Account Settings on the left-hand side of your screen. Go to Account Changes, and click Close Account. You will then need to tell Pinterest why you are deleting your account and click Next. You will then need to click Send Email to receive a confirmation email to close your account. Once you have received the email via the email address associated with your Pinterest account, you can confirm that you really do want to close your account. Whether you are leaving social media because of security concerns or for other reasons, we hope you found this guide helpful. To learn what other steps you can take to improve your security, please contact our friendly team today.