Social media platforms spy on users, collect and process their personal data, and negatively affect their mental health. As a social media user, you’ve probably been tempted to delete your accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter more than once. Is it possible to get a break from social media accounts or even get rid of them once for all? What’s the right way to do it? How to protect your data from cyber criminals? Read on to find out!
- Why users delete their social media pages
- How to delete or deactivate accounts with major social media platforms
- How to protect your personal data online
Why users delete their social media pages
GlobalWebIndex has conducted a survey of more than 1,000 social media users from Great Britain and the USA. As the most common reasons for deactivating their social media pages, the respondents have named the following:
- users have lost interest in the content shared by other people online (26%);
- users want to dedicate more time to other pastimes, e.g. their hobbies (25%);
- users fear the negative impact that their posts may have on their future life (25%);
- users don’t like the fact that social media are too image-driven (22%);
- users don’t like being addicted to social media (21%);
- users don’t want to share their personal information online (20%);
- users want to get rid of stress and anxiety caused by social media (20%).
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular reasons behind account deactivations.
It’s no secret that social media platforms gather information about users. They do this to be able to target users with relevant ads. Online platforms get access to:
- Your personal information: phone number, email address, gender, date of birth, phone contacts (if you used your phone book to search for people you know). The real problem is that social platforms often fail to protect their users’ privacy. You must’ve heard about the recent database breaches when hackers exposed personal data of 1.3 million Clubhouse users and 533 million Facebook users.
- Your location. If you visit, say, a sports clothing store, it won’t be long before Instagram and Facebook start bombarding you with ads for sporting goods. How do they do that? It’s pretty simple. Social platforms use GPS and Wi-Fi to track your location and use this information for marketing purposes.
- Your interests. Social platforms record and analyze your likes, hashtags, comments, and even private messages. Based on your online behavior, social media sites create your portrait to be able to target you with tailored ads and personalized content.
Here is yet another threat that you should keep in mind. All user information stored by social platforms may get into the hands of cyber criminals. If you’re using social media, you’re running the constant risk of getting exposed to hacking, cyber bullying, and blackmailing.
The findings of this authoritative research have shown that users who spend too much time on social media demonstrate “behavior which is similar to that of drug and video game addicts”. Who doesn’t know the feeling when you can’t stop scrolling on Instagram or Facebook? Psychological dependence on social media can have a destructive effect on a person’s health. People addicted to social media often feel depressed, lonely, and unhappy.
At the same time, people who have tried the so-called “digital detox” report that unplugging from technology normalized their sleep patterns and improved their overall mood.
Waste of time
Social media platforms are often nicknamed “time killers”, and for a good reason. They eat up a big chunk of our time without giving anything in return. This is why many people reduce the time they spend on social media sites and start dedicating more time to their family, friends, hobies, education, and personal development.
How to delete or deactivate accounts with major social media platforms
Instagram offers its users to delete their account for good, or temporarily deactivate it. Keep in mind that you only do that from your PC or mobile browser.
To delete your Instagram account:
- go to the Delete Your Account tab;
- select a reason for deleting your account and enter your password;
- click “Permanently delete my account”;
Instagram users have 30 days to cancel the deletion request.
To deactivate your Instagram account:
- click your user pic;
- choose “Profile” — “Edit Profile”;
- click “Temporarily disable to account”;
- select a reason for deactivating your account and enter your password;
- click “Temporarily disable account”.
The beautiful thing is that you can restore your Instagram page whenever you like. To do that, you simply need to log into your account.
Similarly to Instagram, you can either permanently delete or temporarily deactivate your Facebook page.
To delete your Facebook account:
- click the ▼ icon in the top right-hand corner;
- select “Settings and privacy” — “Settings”;
- click “Your Facebook information” — “Deactivation and deletion” — “Permanently delete account” — “Continue to account deletion”;
- click “Delete account”, enter your password, and click “Next”.
The deletion process takes 90 days. If you change your mind, you can restore your Facebook profile within the first 30 days. To do that, you need to log into your account and click “Cancel deletion”.
To deactivate your Facebook account:
- click the ▼ icon;
- click “Settings and privacy” — “Settings” — “Your information on Facebook” — “Deactivation and deletion”;
- click “Deactivate account” — “Continue to account deactivation”.
You can regain access to your deactivated Facebook account at any time. To do that, you’ll need to log into your account by entering your password and mobile phone (or email address).
Keep in mind that by deleting your Google account, you lose access to all associated Google services, such as Gmail, Google Play, Google Disc, and others.
To delete your Google account:
- sign into your Google Account;
- click “Data and personalization”;
- scroll to “Download, delete, or make a plan for your data” and click “Delete a service or your account”;
- click “Delete your account”.
If you change your mind, you can try to revoke your deletion request. However, Google neither gives the time frame for reclaiming your account, nor guarantees that this can be done.
To permanently delete your LinkedIn account:
- click the “Profile” icon in the navigation bar;
- click the “Settings and privacy” icon;
- click “Close account” — “Continue to proceed with closing your account”;
- select the reason why you’re deleting your account and click “Next”;
- enter your password and click “Done”.
You’ll have 14 days to cancel your deletion request. Otherwise, the platform will irrevocably delete your CV, contacts, and other data.
To deactivate your Twitter account:
- log into your Twitter account;
- click your profile icon and choose “Settings and Privacy”;
- select “Account” — “Deactivate”
- click “Deactivate”;
- enter your password and click “Deactivate account”.
You’ll have 30 days to reactivate your account. Past that deadline, Twitter will delete your account for good.
How to protect your personal data online
What do you do if you’re not willing to part with your social media accounts, but still want to reduce your online exposure? We have two useful tips for you.
Update your privacy settings
Each social media account has Privacy Settings. As an account owner, you can modify these settings based on your personal preferences. Among other things, you can prohibit a social media platform from:
- showing the time and date of your last login;
- tagging you in other users’ posts;
- keeping record of your search history;
- providing access to your profile to external websites.
By customizing your privacy settings, you can prevent social media sites from collecting certain types of your personal data.
Virtual private network (VPN) is a tool that enables you to anonymously use social media platforms.
VPNs hide your real IP address, allowing you to keep your communications and other data private. When you’re using a VPN, neither social media platforms, no cyber criminals will be able to get access to your location, search history, and personal information (e.g. your bank account number).
Tech experts recommend using VPN every time you’re accessing social media.
Should I delete my social media pages or temporarily deactivate them? This is a question that every social media user has wondered at least once. Well, it all depends on your needs and how often you’re using social media. Here is a short checklist to help you make the right decision.
1. Pinpoint the reason why social media make you feel uncomfortable:
- If you’re concerned for your online security, you don’t necessarily need to delete your pages. It’ll be enough to restrict your privacy settings or use a reliable VPN service.
- If you want to put an end to wasting your time scrolling through timelines or feel that you’re growing addicted to social media, you should probably delete your accounts permanently.
2. If you’re adamant about pulling the plug, you should decide between deleting your accounts once and for all and temporarily deactivating them. Among major social platforms, both Facebook and Instagram give their users an opportunity to deactivate their account and then restore it at any time.