How to Remove Facebook from Your Life (And Why That’s Nearly Impossible)
The #DeleteFacebook campaign is a pretty clear call to action, but most people saying they want to delete their account never do. Why? Because Facebook is really hard to get rid of. If you want to rid yourself of Facebook, I’m going to tell you how, but you probably won’t do it.
Deleting your Facebook account is technically simple. Head to the account deletion page, click the “Delete My Account” button, enter your password and a captcha, and boom, it’s done.
Okay, not quite. There’s a 14 day cooling down period where you can log into your account and stop the deletion process. Don’t log in for two weeks and it’s gone for real. All your account data will be deleted from Facebook’s servers (although it can take up to 90 days to be fully removed) so it’s probably a good idea to grab a backup first.
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But deleting Facebook is really only one part of getting rid of Facebook. The hardest bit is replacing the things you actually use Facebook for.
During Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the US Senate, he repeatedly denied that Facebook was a monopoly. He couldn’t, however, name a single largest competitor. While Instagram (a Facebook property), Twitter (the mad ramblings of people who shouldn’t be let near keyboards), and Snapchat (a digital playground for teens that Facebook is slowly strangling to death) are all technically social networks, they don’t fill the same roll.
Sure, some people might announce their engagement or new baby on Instagram, but they’re much more likely to do it on Facebook. It’s how I told my extended circle of friends that my granny had died—it was the simplest way to reach them all.
There is nothing out there right now that replaces this, short of just ringing around all your friends and family and asking them, “What’s up?” I travel for most of the year, so Facebook is how I keep tabs on what’s going on at home. It’s just not realistic to keep in constant contact with other people leading their own lives 3000 miles away.
And yes, it’s true that things like Google+ still exist, but for a social network to be useful, the people with whom you want to communicate need to participate. And most of them aren’t going to switch to using something else just because you want to delete Facebook from your life.
Now don’t get me wrong, Facebook’s News Feed is far from perfect. In fact, their algorithm is pretty broken—though you can make it less annoying. The thing is, for most people, the positives outweigh the negatives.
Oh, and good luck remembering birthdays.
Facebook Messenger is an incredibly popular messaging service. It—alongside WhatsApp (another Facebook-owned service)—are how billions of people communicate every day. Huge numbers of my friends don’t have any other contact details for me, not even my email address.
While your situation might not be quite as extreme, there’s a good chance that some of the people you communicate with almost exclusively use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
iMessage is a great alternative if everyone you’re chatting with has an iPhone, but SMS is a pretty poor option. Those texts can also get quite expensive if you’re sending them internationally.
There are other messaging apps like Telegram, but good luck getting your entire family to sign up.
Facebook Groups have become the de facto way for a lot of teams, clubs, and societies to interact with their members. Since everyone has Facebook, why would they not use it?
Again, there are alternatives like Teamer and Teamstuff, but the problem is getting people to use them. Having a Teamer account doesn’t do you much good if everyone else is organizing things in a Facebook Group. If you’re the one responsible for setting things up, you might be able to force it. But if you’re joining an existing club, all I can do is wish you good luck in your foolish endeavors to convert them.
Passwords suck. Breaches of large companies are an increasingly regular event and, because people are absolutely terrible about using the same passwords for multiple services, those passwords often can be used to log in to other accounts. We’re big fans of password managers here at How-To Geek, but they can be awkward to get started with.
The Log In With Facebook button is a great way to instantly have a more secure account on a website. When 150 million MyFitnessPal login details were leaked last month, the people who had logged in with Facebook were much better protected.
You could set up a private Facebook account with only the barest of your personal details—or possibly an anonymous Twitter account—but that defeats the purpose of getting rid of Facebook. They can still track your activity around the web if you’re logged in to your account.
This one’s a bit petty, but it’s absolutely true. Sometimes when you’ve had a terrible day (or an amazing day) you just want to tell everyone you can. It’s as cathartic as it is narcissistic. I’ve been using Facebook’s On This Day to purge some of the more embarrassing instances from my past but I can’t pretend I didn’t feel better for posting them at the time.
RELATED: Use Facebook’s “On This Day” to Clean Up Your Facebook Past
Plus, call Likes “fake internet points” all you like, but when something happens, they are still a tangible reminder that people you know and like have seen it, and care enough to show you that they care.
Maybe you’re so big on privacy that you’ve never posted a single thing on Facebook, but I doubt it. And I highly doubt you’ve never posted a comment you thought was witty or a picture you were proud of, and then checked back 20 mins later to see how many likes it had. It’s okay, it’s only human.
Everyone loves to hate Facebook, but very few people actually go without. Feel free to delete it, but good luck putting up with all the nagging from your friends and family to rejoin. And if you do go, remember that it’s tradition to post a long Facebook post announcing it. It doesn’t count if you don’t. And it’s not nearly as funny whenyou come back.
Harry Guinness writes occasionally when he’s not busy skiing, sailing, partying, lifting weights, or otherwise dodging responsibility. His main areas of interest are himself, gin, and crazy people with interesting stories to tell. When people won’t pay him to write ill-thought-out opinion pieces, he covers photography, technology, and culture. You can follow him on Twitter.