It’s a mess.
The controversy began last weekend when reports from The New York Times and The Guardian revealed that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica gained access to millions of Facebook users data through personality apps and quizzes that Facebook users added to their accounts, CNN reported. Cambridge Analytics has been linked to President Donald Trump’s election campaign.
Facebook saw its stock drop and market value drop as a result of the reports. In fact, E.U. lawmakers called for investigations into both Facebook and Cambridge, according to The Daily Dot.
As the chaos unfolded, a new hashtag sprung up on social media that has a clear message in its name: #DeleteFacebook.
If you’re one of the people who want to delete their Facebook account, it’s relatively easy.
But before you do, it’s important to collect all the personal data that you’ve posted to the web page since it launched in 2006. Here's a quick breakdown of other things to consider before deleting your Facebook account, or what you can do instead of deleting your account.
Download your history
Your Facebook account contains a wealth of information, “including your photos, active sessions, chat history, IP addresses, facial recognition data, and which ads you clicked, just to name a few,” according to The Verge. You’ll probably want to hold onto that data as a record of your life.
To download it, head to your “Settings,” scroll to the bottom of the General Account Settings page, and then click “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” After that, click “Start my Archive.”
Most of the account history includes what actions you completed on Facebook, like which posts you "liked," which friends you added and what you searched for on the social network.
Delete your personal information
According to The Daily Dot, deleting your account won’t do much since Facebook will still have all of the data associated with your account.
But, you can keep your account and make it harder for advertisers to understand you as a consumer all once with one quick fix: Clean out all the personal information about you.
Head into the “About” section of your profile and delete your education, work, contract and basic information, which can be easily rewritten if you ever wanted to add it back.
“Facebook, and any apps that have previously gained access to your profile, will still have this information on file. However, if you remove this data, future apps that connect to your profile will not,” according to The Daily Dot.
Turn off location services
Facebook can also track your location, even if you don’t use the app’s “check-in” feature. If you don’t want to share your location information, turn off location services on your smartphone device for the app.
According to iMore, iPhone users can head to Settings, Privacy and then Location Services. Tap Facebook and then tap never.
You can also delete Saved Location History from Facebook. Open Facebook, hit more, Settings, Account Settings, Location and turn off the Location History button.
For more information on deleting location services and tracking, head over to iMore.
Android users will want to open Settings, tap Location, open Google Location Settings, and switch sliders off for reporting and location history.
Review your third-party apps
Developers often ask app users for access to their Facebook data. Multiple apps will ask people to connect with Facebook, which instantly allows those developers to gain access to your posts, data and information. This is, in large part, how Cambridge Analytica retained all user data that was later illegally used, according to BuzzFeed News.
You can review your third-party apps to make sure only legitimate brands are using your profile and not random quiz apps. On the Facebook app or desktop site, open your settings, then click apps, where you will see all the applications that have access to your Facebook information (either because you logged into those apps through Facebook or because you used the apps on Facebook). Some of them include games available on Facebook, like Words with Friends, while others are connected to Facebook Pages you might have "liked" in the past.
The apps collect "your name, profile picture, cover photo, gender, networks, username, and user id," according to Facebook.
To remove these apps from your account, tap or click the light-gray X button next to the app icon on the Facebook page. You can also edit each app’s settings to see specific data that each app collects from you.
This won’t delete the information the app has already gathered from you. To do that, you’ll have to contact the app individually and ask them to delete the information, according to BuzzFeed.
Before you delete, write down everything important
Deleting your Facebook account is a permanent matter (we’ll get to that). That’s why Mashable pointed out things you should do before breaking up with Facebook.
Aside from downloading your data (which includes which posts you've liked, your chat history and what actions you've done on Facebook), make sure you save all the photos, videos and all other posts you've uploaded to Facebook in the past, according to Mashable. You can save both of these on your desktop and mobile device.
To save photos and videos on mobile, open the image or clip you want to save, hold your finger down on the photo and then click "save image."
For desktop, open the image up, hit Options in the lower right-hand corner and then click "Download."
It’s also important to write down the contact information for your friends and family so that you have them in the future, too.
You may also want to write down birthdays, holidays and special occasions in a journal or calendar since those are often shared on Facebook.
Delete your account
Deleting your account is easy. But beware, it cannot be recovered ever again. This is a permanent solution. You can click this link to start.
Facebook says account deletion can take up to 90 days to complete. However, if you log into Facebook, it will delay the termination.
“If you’re really serious about quitting Facebook, remember that the company owns several other popular services as well, like Instagram and WhatsApp, so you should delete your accounts there as well,” according to The Verge.