Social media certainly has both upsides and downsides. On the bright side, social platforms have had a positive impact on the world by bringing people together, reuniting family and friends, and helping people find support from others with similar interests and life experiences. But there’s a darker side to social media as well. It has also been used to foment anger, distrust, and fear. Just as easily as positive and helpful content can be amplified, so too can harmful content such as conspiracy theories, radicalization efforts, and hateful attacks against individuals or classes of people.
A lot of the effects of social media depend on how we use these services. One challenge is that social media thrives on “engagement,” and posts that provoke powerful emotions are more likely to get people to engage (e.g. to like, comment, and share posts). The more engagement on social media, the more views, and the more ad revenue that companies make.
Many people are deciding to change the way they use social media: either curtail their usage, or stop using some social media services entirely. For those who may prefer to cancel their accounts altogether, in this article I’ll tell you how to delete your accounts on the 10 most popular social media services.
Some social media services have a reach that go beyond their apps or websites. Facebook is one of them. Not only does your Facebook account allow you to access Facebook, but it also gives you access to Facebook Messenger, which you may be using to message friends. In addition, you can log in to many websites and services using your Facebook account, so if you delete that account, you may need to first change your login options for those services.
It’s fairly easy to delete your Facebook account, but Facebook also prompts you to temporarily deactivate your account, if you want to take a breather. If you do this, all your content is saved, but is not visible. And if you temporarily deactivate your account, you’ll still be able to use Facebook Messenger and log into other services.
If you do delete your account, you may want to first download a copy of all your Facebook data, such as your posts and photos.
To delete your Facebook account on a computer:
- Click the downward-facing triangle (▾) icon at the top-right corner of the Facebook page.
- Click on Settings & Privacy > Settings.
- Next, click “Your Facebook Information,” then “Deactivation and deletion.”
- Click Deactivate Account. At this stage, you can choose to deactivate or delete the account. Make your choice, then click Continue to Account Deletion. Follow the instructions to confirm your choice.
To delete your Facebook account on a mobile device:
- Tap the three horizontal bars (☰) menu.
- Scroll down and tap Settings, then tap Personal and Account Information.
- Tap Account Ownership and Control.
- Tap Deactivation and Deletion, then select Delete Account. Here, as above, you can choose to deactivate your account or delete it.
- Tap Continue to Account Deletion, then tap Delete Account.
If you have chosen to deactivate your account, and want to reactivate it, just log into Facebook.
Note that if you have deleted your Facebook account, it’s still not deleted for 30 days. If you want to restore your account, log into Facebook and click Cancel Deletion.
Technically, you don’t actually have a YouTube account; you have a Google account. Since YouTube is part of Google, it’s your Google account that gives you access to YouTube. While you may want to delete your Google account, make sure that you really want to do this. Deleting your Google account will delete all Google products, such as Gmail, Google Drive, etc. You may also have signed into websites and services using your Google account, so deleting this account may prevent you from accessing other services.
You can use YouTube without signing into a Google account, so deleting a YouTube account won’t prevent you from using the service.
If you have posted videos on YouTube and want to delete your YouTube channel, see this Google support article.
If you’re sure that you really want to delete your Google account, this article explains how.
WhatsApp is popular as a messaging app, but is also used for e-commerce in many countries. In some areas of the world, people depend on WhatsApp for essential services, and may not be able to delete it. However, if you do want to delete your WhatsApp account, this is pretty simple.
- Open the WhatsApp app. Tap More options > Settings > Account > Delete my account.
- Enter your phone number with its country code; if you’re in the US, that means you start the number with +1, then the rest of the number, including its area code.
- Select why you’re deleting your account, then tap Delete My Account.
If you delete your WhatsApp account, your message history will be deleted, you’ll be removed from all WhatsApp groups you were in, and your Google Drive backup will be deleted. WhatsApp says it may take up to 90 days to completely delete your account, but nothing from your account will be visible to anyone.
Although WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, account deletion is treated differently for WhatsApp. Once you delete your WhatsApp account, this deletion is not reversible.
Instagram is also owned by Facebook, and, as with the Facebook service, you can choose to temporarily disable your Instagram account if you wish. You can also download a copy of all your Instagram data before deleting your account.
Instagram doesn’t make it easy to find out how to delete your account; there is no option in the Instagram app, and if you search the app’s Help, you won’t found out how to do this. But it’s actually simple, if you know the trick: just go to the Delete Your Account page, on either a computer or mobile device, choose the reasons for the deletion, enter your password, then click or tap Delete [USERNAME].
Deleting a TikTok account is extremely simple, as it should be. One of the reasons for this is because, unlike Facebook or Google, TikTok is not linked to any other accounts or services.
- Tap the Profile tab, then tap the three horizontal bars (☰) menu at the top right of the screen.
- Tap Manage Account, then tap Delete Account.
- Follow the instructions to delete your account.
You may want to download your TikTok data, especially your videos, before deleting your account. To do so, read this article. TikTok says that it may take up to 30 days for this data to be available, but when it is, you’ll only have four days to download it, so you’ll need to check the TikTok app regularly to see if the data is ready.
Snapchat is another service that makes it fairly easy to delete your account. All you have to do is go to the Accounts portal, enter your user name and password, and follow the instructions. You can access this page from within the Snapchat app, but only if you search for “delete account” in the Support > “I need help” section of Settings.
Snapchat doesn’t delete your account right away; it’s first deactivated for 30 days, then is permanently deleted. So if you want to change your mind, just log into Snapchat again before the 30 days is up to reinstate the account.
Reddit is more like a group of forums than a social media service, so if you delete your Reddit account, none of your posts or comments are deleted. To do this, you’ll have to go through every post and comment and delete them. This FAQ page explains what you need to do.
It is fairly simple to delete a Reddit account. Click your user name, then click User Settings. Scroll to the bottom of the page and, in the Deactivate Account section, tap Deactivate Account. If you have a Reddit Premium subscription, you’ll have to cancel that subscription first.
Pinterest, like some other social media services, offers the ability to either deactivate or close your account. Both of these are accessible from the down-pointing arrow menu on the Pinterest website, or by tapping your profile picture on the Pinterest app. To deactivate your Pinterest account:
- Click or tap Account Settings.
- Scroll down and tap Deactivate Account.
- Tap Next, say why you want to leave, then click or tap Deactivate Account.
To close your Pinterest account:
- In a web browser, click Settings, then Account Settings in the left sidebar. On the mobile app, tap the gear icon at the top right of the screen, then tap Account Settings.
- In a web browser, tap Account Changes then Close Account. On the mobile app, tap Close Account.
- Explain why you want to close the account, then click or tap Next.
- Click or tap Send Email; Pinterest requires that you confirm the account deletion by clicking or tapping a link in the confirmation email.
If you want to close a business account, Pinterest says that you may need to contact support for assistance. You’ll need to pay all outstanding bills, and ensure that you have no ongoing spend before the account can be closed.
When you close your account, Pinterest deactivates your public profile, but waits 14 days before fully deleting the account. If you wish to keep the account, log into Pinterest, and you’ll receive a link by email to reactivate the account.
Twitter doesn’t allow you to delete your account outright; they say that you must, first, deactivate the account, and that deactivation lasts 30 days or 12 months. While technically this isn’t different from the way Facebook and others work, the fact that they don’t allow you to delete the account is a bit annoying.
When you delete a Twitter account, you lose your user name, but you cannot deactivate the account for longer than 30 days or 12 months, so if you think you might want to use Twitter again, you’ll need to log in to the account before the 30-day or 12-month period is over, then deactivate it again. After the selected period, the account is deleted.
Note that if you use Twitter for messaging, all your direct messages will be deleted when your account is deleted.
To deactivate your Twitter account:
- In a web browser: Click on the ellipsis (•••) icon, then Settings and privacy. Alternatively, in the Twitter app: Tap your avatar, then Settings and privacy.
- Click or tap Your Account, then Deactivate your account.
- Choose the reactivation period: 30 days or 12 months.
- Click or tap Deactivate, then enter your password, and click or tap the final Deactivate account button.
Note that deactivating or deleting your account will not remove tweets that have been indexed by search engines. Instead of deactivating or deleting your Twitter account, you may want to make it private, so only those users you allow can see your tweets and interact with you. To do that, read Twitter’s help about How to protect and unprotect your Tweets.
As social media networks go, LinkedIn is probably the most laid back. This is because it is essentially a professional social network, for people wanting to make connections with businesses, looking for jobs, or searching for employees. But you may, nevertheless, want to delete your LinkedIn account. Here’s how.
- Click or tap your profile picture, then click or tap Settings & Privacy, then Account preferences.
- Scroll down to the Account management section, and click or tap Close account.
- Say why you want to leave, then click or tap Next.
- Enter your password, then click or tap Close Account.
When you close a LinkedIn account, some of your information may still display on search engines for a while. If you have a premium LinkedIn account or membership, or own a LinkedIn group, you’ll have to resolve those accounts before you can delete your personal account.
Since LinkedIn is all about connections, you may want to download a copy of your data before deleting the account.
How can I learn more?
Each week on the Intego Mac Podcast, Intego’s Mac security experts discuss the latest Apple news, security and privacy stories, and offer practical advice on getting the most out of your Apple devices. Be sure to follow the podcast to make sure you don’t miss any episodes.
You can also subscribe to our e-mail newsletter and keep an eye here on Mac Security Blog for the latest Apple security and privacy news. And—if you haven’t deleted all of your social media accounts!—don’t forget to follow Intego on your favorite social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram.