How to Delete Your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok

Social networks walk a fine line between being a useful tool and a crippling addiction . They're also fraught with critics, who say that they damage our personal privacy and can convey misinformation . Whether you want your free time back or don’t like your personal info scattered about on the internet, you may be considering deactivating some accounts.

Wanting to delete your account is one thing, but actually being able to hit the delete button is another story. Social media outlets make money off of you and your information, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they don’t want to let you go. Because of this, the biggest networks have made it overly complicated to delete your account. But if you are set on getting rid of them, here’s what you’ll have to do.

Speaking of privacy, now is as good a time as any to consider a VPN, which can shield your internet activity from corporations and would-be hackers. We've tested a bunch and compiled a list of favorites .

Updated in June 2020: We've updated this guide to reflect the most current methods for leaving major social media platforms. We've also added TikTok.

You’ve had your Facebook account for ages, and in that time maybe you’ve posted a little too much personal information. Maybe you’re just sick of all the slightly offensive status updates your friends are sharing or you have some questions about the ethics of using the service at all . Either way, you’ve had enough.

If you’ve ever deactivated your account, you may have noticed that everything goes back to normal the next time you log in, as if nothing has happened. That’s because deactivating your Facebook account is not the same as deleting it. When you deactivate your account, you are just hiding your information from searches and your Facebook friends. Although nothing is visible on the site, your account information remains intact on Facebook’s servers, eagerly awaiting your return.

Even so, deactivating your account is still a complex process. Go into your settings and click Settings and Privacy. Then click Your Facebook Information. From there, click on Deactivation and Deletion and choose Deactivate Account. Finally, click Continue to Account Deactivation and follow the instructions onscreen.Now, to permanently delete your account, you'll need to learn where the delete option resides. From the same Deactivation and Deletion menu listed above, choose Delete Account, then click Continue to Account Deletion. Enter your password, click Continue, and then click Delete Account. It's worth noting that the actual deletion of all your data and information will take a couple days.

If you want to delete your account but don't want to lose all your account information, download all your crucial data first. The information you can download includes everything from the photos and statuses you post, to the ads you’ve clicked and the IP addresses you’ve used. The list of what’s included is extensive, but you can view it in its entirety here. Also, due to the nature of this data, you’ll want to keep it in a safe place.