How to delete or deactivate your Facebook account if you’re worried about privacy

Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix
Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix

The shocking revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s alleged use of 50 million leaked Facebook profiles has highlighted the dark uses of data we all share with the company.

The scandal has wiped $35 billion off Facebook’s market value overnight, as consumers worry about how their Facebook data is being used.

Mark Zuckerberg has also been asked to appear in front of MPs to answer questions about the issue. Damian Collins, the chairman of the Commons inquiry into fake news, has accused the company of “misleading” the committee.

Searches for ‘How to Delete Facebook’ have spiked on Google as the scandal unfolds – centred on how data from a Facebook quiz may have been misused.

Searches have spiked (Picture Google Trends)
Searches have spiked (Picture Google Trends)

If you’re worried, there’s several steps you can take to make your profile more private – or you can go the whole hog and deactivate or delete your account.

How to deactivate your account

‘Deactivating’ an account (found under Settings), lets you deactivate your account temporarily – but you can reactivate it simply by logging in.

It means you hide your profile and photos will no longer appear in Search, and your name will be ‘greyed out’.

The account can be reactivated, and some interactions (such as comments on other people’s pages) may still be visible.

How was the data used? Picture Getty
How was the data used? Picture Getty

To do it, click account settings at the top right of any Facebook page (in the desktop version, select Settings, then General, Manage your account.

Scroll down to click Deactivate your account.

How to delete your account

If that’s not enough, you can delete it altogether – although you won’t be able to get your data back again.

From Facebook’s menus, it appears as if deactivating an account is the closest Facebook will let you get to deletion – but it’s actually possible to delete your account entirely.

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First, save your information, by going to Settings, then the menu option, Download a copy of your Facebook data (below your General Account Settings), then Start My Archive.

An official Facebook page with instructions on how to permanently delete your account is available here .

Once done, you have 14 days in which you can log back in and cancel the request, but after that point, there is no way to restore the data, and (crucially) people will not be able to search for or see your profile or any content you have shared on Facebook.