The hashtag #DeleteFacebook is trending on Twitter.
People are furious, and they have good reason to be: Data from over 50 million Facebook users was used to target voters and influence the 2016 US presidential election, as well as the 2016 “Brexit” referendum, reports revealed over the weekend.
As a result, people are deleting their Facebook accounts en masse:
Wondering how to join the #DeleteFacebook party? We’ve got instructions for you right here:
There are two options: Deactivate your account or delete your account. They are not the same.
Are you trying to remove all your information from Facebook or are you just trying to hide it? That’s the question at the heart of your two choices here.
Here’s the difference:
Deactivation means you can log back in whenever you want and everything will return as you left it. Your page will disappear for as long as your account remains deactivated. Friends can’t see it, and you’ll seemingly disappear from Facebook. BUT! Should you ever choose to return to Facebook, you can simply log back in.
Deletion means what it sounds like: You’re straight up deleting everything you’ve ever put on Facebook. This does not include messages sent through Facebook Messenger, but does include literally everything else (from your profile information to wall posts). You’ve got a short window of time between choosing deletion and everything actually being deleted; if you sign in within a few days, you can still cancel the deletion process.
Here’s Facebook’s official language on deletion: “It may take up to 90 days from the beginning of the deletion process to delete all of the things you’ve posted, like your photos, status updates or other data stored in backup systems. While we are deleting this information, it is inaccessible to other people using Facebook.”
Deactivating your account is much easier, but doesn’t actually delete your information from Facebook’s servers.
As someone who recently deactivated his Facebook account, I can attest to how quickly this process goes — it’s just a few minutes. I also liked the peace of mind of being able to recover my Facebook information should I ever choose to rejoin.
That said, beware: Deactivating your Facebook account does not delete your information from Facebook’s servers. It’s hidden from other users, unavailable to the public, but it continues to live on in Facebook’s vast digital-storage vaults. If you’re ever interested in revisiting the photos you posted to Facebook way back when, or getting back in touch with that long-lost friend, you may want to deactivate your Facebook page instead of outright deleting it.
That said: If you’re trying to make sure your data doesn’t get scraped in the future, the best way to ensure that is to request that Facebook delete it.