There are a variety of reasons you might want to delete your social media accounts. You may miss the days of anonymity, you might want to reclaim your privacy from companies, or maybe you just aren’t interested anymore. You might even be concerned a hacker might steal your identity on social media.
Whatever your reason, there are several ways you can delete your social media accounts and history. You aren’t only limited to the traditional means, such as deleting your profile through Facebook. In fact, there are lots of online services and apps that can help you with this task. But before you do pull the trigger, be sure that you have a firm grasp on the consequences that come with quitting social media.
From traditional avenues to new tools, here’s an in-depth look at how to delete your social media history.
Deleting Accounts Through the Platform
Each of the major social media sites allows you to deactivate or delete accounts. However, how easy it will be depends on the site.
In fact, there is an entire segment of BackgroundChecks.org which lists how difficult it is to delete your presence on a social media site. The site section, JustDeleteMe, gives information on how to delete your accounts through the official channels as well as how easy it is to do this.
Here are the official ways to delete your accounts for some of the major media sites:
Social media sites are especially apt at keeping track of and recording everything you’ve ever shared. Facebook, in particular, has records of everything you’ve ever posted. Luckily, the site also provides two options for getting rid of your profile: by deactivating or deleting your account.
As the wording implies, the first option is an account deactivation and not technically a deletion. It leaves the option to restore your account at a later date, meaning that your data is still stored somewhere.
Deactivating your account disables your profile and removes your name and photos from posts you’ve shared. Other people won’t be able to find your account when they search for it on Facebook. However, your name might still appear in posts from others. Your messages with others will likely also continue to exist. And your Messenger account stays active, too, but you can deactivate Facebook Messenger separately.
The second option is permanently deleting your Facebook account. According to Facebook, this means your account cannot be restored. To do this, you have to lodge a request with the company through their help site.
The process of deleting your data takes 90 days. This removes much of the same information that deactivating your account does, though a backup isn’t stored. Facebook notes that, like with deactivation, some data stored on other people’s accounts (such as messages) cannot be deleted.
The process for deleting your account on Twitter is a bit more straightforward and definitely quicker. Users can choose to delete their account in their profile settings.
The site will ask the user to confirm that they want to take this action, providing a bit of information on the process.
According to the company, your data will only be stored for 30 days. During this time you will be able to reactivate and restore your account (like many celebrities are known to do). Once the 30 day period is up though, your data and account will be permanently deleted.
Like Facebook, Instagram also allows you to either deactivate or permanently delete your account. Your account can be deactivated in your settings by selecting Edit Profile. But if you would like to permanently delete your account, you will need to visit the account deletion web page.
“After you delete your account, you can’t sign up again with the same username or add that username to another account, and we can’t reactivate deleted accounts,” Instagram says.
The company adds in its terms of services that data and posts shared by others might persist even after you delete your account.
Snapchat has a similar deletion policy to Twitter: removing all of the user’s data after 30 days. During this waiting period, you can choose to reactivate your account. It’s a pretty simple process.
When requesting to delete your account, the company will send you to their Delete Account web page, where you will need to type in your username and password.
This won’t delete content that you’ve sent users and which has been stored by those users via screenshots. But deleting your account will prevent users from contacting you or sending you files. Your profile will also be deleted.
While Google+ isn’t the most popular networking sites, many of us with Google accounts have some semblance of a Google+ profile. Like other sites, the delete option is in your account settings.
But due to the integration of Google+ into so many other Google services, not all your data is deleted. You will need to go into these separate services to delete those specific accounts. For example, deleting Google+ does not delete the photos you’ve shared. You will need to do that in Picasa.
Your local reviews will also remain online, along with some other data. As a result, completely erasing your Google+ shadow is not really an option. You will be able to delete your public profile and have your posts hidden, however.
When it comes to Google’s various partner sites, deleting your presence completely is more complicated than most other social sites. In fact, accounts on sites like Picasa can only be deleted by deleting your entire Google account, which includes services you rely on such as Gmail. Sites like JustDeleteMe list Google+ and Picasa as among the more difficult profiles to delete.
Websites That Delete Accounts for You
There are certain websites dedicated to cleaning up and even completely deleting your social media presence. Deseat.me is one such site. The service uses either your Google account or your Outlook account to generate a list of your online and social media accounts. It then gives you the option to delete these accounts.
A great aspect of the service is the sheer extent of what it covers. It will find accounts linked to your email that you have long forgotten about. It will let you delete these accounts and cancel subscriptions.
In terms of privacy, deseat.me doesn’t get access to other login information or data. The service also runs on your local device instead of the site’s servers.
“Privacy and data security is something we regard as extremely important. In fact, it’s our number one focus from beginning to end,” the site explains. “That’s why we built it to run on your computer. So basically the only thing you’re telling us is the status of your accounts. That’s it, and since we use the OAuth 2.0 protocol we don’t have access to any of your login information.”
You can filter through the list that the site provides, choosing which accounts to delete and which ones to save.
The drawback of such a comprehensive service, however, is that if you’re aiming to mainly just remove social media accounts, you have to wade through many other accounts to choose whether to save or delete them.
Another option is sites like JustDeleteMe and AccountKiller.com, which aggregate account deactivation links. Unfortunately, the sites don’t track which sites you have accounts with — rather, there is a common list for everyone. You will have to find which links are relevant to you.
Sites like these, however, are great tools for finding information on how to delete your various accounts, even for less popular sites.
Apps That Delete Accounts
App developers haven’t quite embraced the social media deletion trend quite yet. The few account deletion apps that do exist don’t do the deleting themselves, but rather direct the user to the relevant pages on different platforms.
As such, it’s more convenient to just visit websites which aggregate these links or use the social network’s official app.
However, there are some other app solutions. Most of these bulk delete social media posts for users who want to clean up their social media presence without fully deleting their account.
Instant Cleaner is an Instagram-specific social media cleaner app. Rather than deleting your account, it will allow you to perform bulk post deletions.
In 2015, there was some buzz around an app called Clear, which scanned your social media feeds to unearth any possibly offensive content. The app was created by a developer who lost a job as a result of some tweets he posted years ago. The app’s site is still up, stating that it is in beta. However, there haven’t been any updates on progress and the App Store link no longer works, so it might be dead in the water.
There’s still hope though. In fact, there are also a slew of apps which are specifically aimed at scanning and deleting tweets. Xpire has a concept similar to Clear, but with a focus on Twitter. The app is limited to your most recent 3,200 tweets due to the site’s API. However, it allows for bulk deletion of tweets and even grades your profile based on ‘risky’ content.
Download: Xpire (Free)
Are Some Profiles Impossible to Delete?
According to JustDeleteMe, there are some profiles that are impossible to delete. Luckily for social media users, none of these impossible sites are among the major public social media platforms.
However, there are a few notable inclusions in JustDeleteMe’s “Impossible” list. This includes Netflix, Roblox, Wikipedia, WordPress, PlayStation Network, and Pinterest. Many of these profiles can be disabled, but complete deletion is not an option.
Netflix, for example, will retain some data in case users want to one day subscribe to the service again. Meanwhile, the PlayStation Network and Steam don’t give an option to deactivate or delete at all. JustDeleteMe suggests removing any identifiable information instead.
Of course, the trick is finding some of those accounts that you’ve long forgotten about (e.g. MySpace) and making sure they’re not displaying information you don’t want on the web.
Goodbye to Your Social Media Footprint
With privacy constantly in the spotlight, there are a multitude of ways and tools for getting rid of your social media history and profiles.
You could even take it a step further and try to delete most of your online presence. Of course, we’re not suggesting that you use these for ghosting. But for whatever reason, it’s now easier than ever to clean up your digital footprint.