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Your relationship with Facebook can sometimes feel like your relationship with your Facebook friends. Sure, when the relationship first started it was great, but over the years things change, and sometimes you wonder why you keep things and people in your life. Do the hundreds of individuals you’ve friended over the years need access to your wedding photos? For that matter does a billion-dollar company like Facebook?
Maybe privacy concerns aren’t what’s making you consider leaving, after all, there are plenty of great reasons to deactivate your Facebook account. Perhaps you’re sick of political arguments or tiresome memes. Maybe it just takes up too much of your time. No matter what your reasons if you need to take a break from Facebook, either short term or long term, it’s easy to deactivate your account.
When it comes to deactivating your Facebook account, you have two options of varying severity: deactivation and deletion.
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If you deactivate your Facebook account, your profile won’t be visible to other Facebook users, and no one, not even your friends, will be able to search for you. Friends will still be able to read messages you sent them, but that’s it. This is your best option if you’re just looking to take a break from Facebook. You can always reactivate your account, and when you do, you’ll have access again to all of your friends and photos.
Deleting your account, by contrast, is much more severe. While a simple deactivation can be done from the account menu on Facebook, deletion can only be done actively contacting Facebook and asking them to destroy your account. The full deletion process can take up to 90 days to complete, but when Facebook is done, all of your information will be deleted off of your account. The only thing left will be the messages you’ve sent other users over the years. You don’t get to remove their memories of you, no matter how embarrassing the message you wrote after that breakup was.
If you’re ready to move forward, here’s how to to it.
How to back up your Facebook data
Before you delete or deactivate your account, we suggest backing up a copy of your information. You can download your information from Facebook from the Settings menu. Inside your download, you’ll find your timeline information, posts you shared, messages, photos, apps you were using, alternate names, deleted friends, and more.
1) Click the upside-down triangle at the top right of your Facebook page and select Settings.
2) When you arrive at the Settings menu, click the Download a copy of your Facebook data link at the bottom of General Account Settings.
3) Click Start My Archive, sit back, and relax.
Now that everything is backed up, it’s time to talk deactivation.
How to deactivate your Facebook account
Remember, deactivation isn’t the same as deletion. The moment you want to get back on Facebook, just enter your password and email to have your account reactivated.
1) Click the upside-down triangle at the top right of your Facebook page and select the Settings option.
2) Once you arrive at the Setting page, you should be on the General Settings page. If you don’t see “General Account Settings” at the top of the page, look at the toolbar to your left. Click General.
3) Once on the General Account Settings page, select the final option: Manage Account.
4) Manage Account is a fascinating place. Beyond the ability to deactivate or delete your account, Manage Account also lets you select someone to control your Facebook account after you die. Facebook also gives you the option to have your account deleted upon your death. For now, select Deactivate your account.
5) Confirm your intentions by re-entering your Facebook password and hitting Continue.
Your account will remain deactivated until you log back in with your email and password. Deactivation comes in handy when you need to take a break from Facebook without nuking your whole account. It’s not goodbye, Facebook. It’s see you later.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.