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How to delete yourself from the internet: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Linkedin and more

Put an end to data leaks

Facebook, and social media, in general, have descended out of the good graces of their users following the media giant’s data scandal involving Cambridge Analytica that syphoned data from at least 87 million Facebook users without prior consent. An irrevocable purge of trust simmers over social media users and many want a comprehensive run-through to help them exterminate social media from their lives completely in the search of elusive security. A world without the intricate web of social media may seem inconceivable to the millennial generation that has their roots sewn deep into it, however, it is a price that they are ready to pay to avoid the painstaking possibility of data loss and misuse. What happens to the years worth of data users have accumulated through hours of arduous usage and activity? Let’s delve into how to backup data and permanently delete social media from an average user’s life.

Facebook

At the centre of all the brunt of social media insecurity lies Facebook, the social media giant built by Mark Zuckerberg, as early as 2004. The platform hosts over 2.2 billion users and sits at the core of an individual’s existence in the anthropomorphized virtual world of social media. Major concerns have been raised among the Facebook population ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal threatened the right to privacy and opened up a gateway to misinformation and propaganda. Means for quick, safe removal of their identity from the platform are being desperately sought after by many ever since.

Steps for Complete Backup

  • Enter Settings: Login to Facebook desktop and enter ‘Settings’.
  • Download Facebook Data: Go to ‘General’ account settings and click on a link that says ‘Download a Copy of Your Facebook Data’ at the bottom of the page.
  • Archive your Data: The next page brings you to the link to archive all your data. Click on ‘Start my Archive’, enter your password and click submit. You will need to click on ‘Start my Archive’ that appears on a pop-up window again.
  • Check your email: A comprehensive list will be sent to your Facebook-affiliated email id after the photos, videos, posts, messenger chats, likes, shares and many more are ready to download.

Voila! Years of data compounded and compressed into one file has been sent to your email id. Some may bring back memories while others lean towards being cringeworthy. However, the first step towards getting off Facebook is complete.

Steps for Deactivation

Both approaches remove you from facebook but deactivation retains your data on the network, in the event that you wish to return to the infamous social media platform. Deletion is a permanent fix to the social obstruction and the data safety insecurities Facebook brings along. The steps are as follows.

  • General Account Settings: Go to Settings on Facebook and select the ‘General’ account settings.
  • Manage Account: Under General account settings, select ‘Manage Account’ and click on ‘Edit’ next to it.
  • Deactivate your account: After clicking on Edit, find the option that reads ‘Deactivate My Account’. Enter your password, one last time, and select a reason for leaving from a list Facebook offers. Click on ‘Deactivate’ again and you’re done.

Deactivation can be carried out on mobile devices (iOS and Android) as well by following similar steps on the mobile application. Test the waters through deactivation. Living without Facebook can create an existential void since it has been ingrained in our daily lives since 2004. Once you are ready to cut the cord and live in a world without the stream of memes, relationship updates and funny videos Facebook hosts, visit this link to delete your account permanently. Be aware, it might take a few weeks to fully remove all traces of your terminated account from the Facebook ecosystem. Ciao Facebook!

Twitter

Tired of expending your brain cells analyzing and decoding ‘covfefe’? Armchair activism has seen a monumental rise ever since the inception of Twitter and it shows no signs of slowing down. The Grammar Nazis and trash-talkers on Twitter can wear down the strongest and users are looking for an out. Follow the steps below and you will have it.

Steps for complete backup

  • Settings: Login to your Twitter account and click on the circular profile icon on the top right corner. Select ‘Settings and Privacy’.
  • Twitter Archive: Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on ‘Request your archive’.
  • Check your email: The entire archive of your Twitter history including tweets and media will be sent over to your registered email.

It’s as simple as that, four to five clicks get you an archive comprising of all your tweets and media. Ready to leave meaningless hashtags, tweetstorms, Twitter ‘Moments’ and constant shaming behind? I think, yes!

Steps for deactivation

  • Settings: Follow step one from the previous (archive) section or visit this link.
  • Deactivation: Scroll to the bottom of the page and select ‘Deactivate your account’. Scroll through the information Twitter provides next and select ‘Deactivate’. Enter your password and the task is done.

Twitter will hold on to your data on their network for a period of 30 days post deactivation, however, all traces of your Twitter account will be wiped away instantly. Verified accounts have a grace period of 12 months instead of the meagre 30 days others receive. Once the grace period lapses, the account is gone and if you find yourself feeling the FOMO of not being part of ‘Twitterati’, you will have to start up a new account with a different email id and username.

Google

Unlike Facebook and Twitter that cater to just one product, Google is affiliated with dozens like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Hangouts, Google Plus and more. If your resolve is strong enough to steer clear of all the Google and Alphabet products, you will need to cut out Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome and many more individually. Deletion of your Google account will likely leave a massive void in your communication abilities online and will render you incapable of using an Android device. I’m betting you would definitely want, no, NEED to have a backup of everything you have stored on the Google ecosystem.

Steps for backup

  • Google Takeout: Proceed to this link and use your credentials to log in to your Google account.
  • Identify and select all the data: Select the services you want to be backed up from the list provided. For Photos, you can either select all albums or choose them individually. Click next after selecting all the services by scrolling to the bottom of the page.
  • Choose the preferred format for download: Select your archive format, preferably .zip (.tgz for Linux).
  • Choose a maximum archive size: The maximum archive size can be anywhere between 1GB to 50GB according to your requirement or liking. If you choose 4GB and the total file size is 15GB, the content will be split into 4 packages.
  • Select a delivery mode: direct link to your email id, Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox.
  • Archive: Lastly, click on ‘Create Archive’ once all the above steps are completed and the file will be sent to your preferred email id or drive.

Steps for deletion

  • Login: Head over to this link to delete your main Google account. Login with your credentials and locate ‘Delete your account services’.
  • Select services to be deleted: Google will ask you if you want to get rid of a few services or just take the plunge and dump all of them. Select the services you intend to delete.
  • Check all the boxes: Google will make you read and check a few boxes to determine if you know what you are doing. Check all the boxes and the deed is done.

Google has a vast and dynamic ecosphere, with new applications and accounts adding to it every day. The consequences of data breach here would be devastating. You can go ahead and remove the possible threat through these steps. Say “Sayonara Google!” instead of “OK Google” from hereon.

Instagram

Instagram’s Terms of Service have proved to be a subject shrouded with controversy since its release in 2012. Put simply, Instagram holds the ability to distribute their users’ data to third parties without informing them beforehand. The Facebook-owned company might rub users off the wrong way through their absurd TOS and they might be looking for an easy out that keeps their years of data intact. 4K Stogram is ideal for backing up photographs and videos from Instagram on a desktop while DownloadGram works well with mobile devices.

Steps for Backup (Laptops/Desktops)

  • Download 4K Stogram on your desktop from here.
  • Install the programme on your desktop, open it and enter a username, hashtag or location in the programme’s search bar.
  • Click ‘Subscribe’.
  • Let all photographs and videos update. Once it’s done, hover your mouse over a picture and click on the ‘file’ icon at the bottom right side of the picture. The data will be stored in your device’s memory.
  • To save the data for multiple accounts, you will need to purchase a license key worth 10$.

Steps for Backup (Mobile)

  • Open the Instagram application on your mobile phone and identify the photograph you wish to save.
  • Tap on the three dots “…” icon and select ‘copy link’.
  • Visit DownloadGram’s website.
  • Enter the photo’s URL in the box which was automatically generated by Instagram.
  • Click on the ‘Download’ button and consequently click on the ‘Download Picture’ button to save the image.

Ready to let go of the FOMO every time you see a friend’s Instagram post at a bar or party you’re not attending? Tired of the incessant feeling of having to post something on Instagram? Maybe it’s time to let go of the ‘Instalife’.

Steps for deactivation

  • Go to Profile: Click on the ‘Portrait’ icon, top right on the desktop app and bottom right on mobile devices.
  • Click the ‘Edit profile’ button once you are on your profile. Scroll to the bottom of the page and select ‘Temporarily disable my account’.
  • Once you’ve selected this option, Instagram will ask you for the reason you’re leaving the platform. Select an option on the list, enter your password for the last time and your account will be successfully disabled.

However, if you possibly want to spend time watching a sunset, sipping iced-tea and/or physically interacting with friends instead of obsessively scrolling through pages of pictures and hashtags, you can go the extra mile and permanently delete your account.

Steps for deletion

  • Head to this link to permanently delete your Instagram account.
  • Instagram will ask you for your reasons for leaving, yet again, and will attempt to persuade you to disable the account temporarily instead.
  • Submit your password one last time and your account will have disappeared from the Instagram universe with no lasting traces.

Beat the FOMO Instagram evokes by actually ‘missing out’ Instagram itself. Gone are the late nights scrolling through menial feeds endlessly, they can now be spent the right way: watching Star Wars Episode V for the 16th time!

Snapchat

Snapchat, by its very nature, doesn’t leave a digital trail. The app is, however, aiming towards permanence in the recent years. The self-destructing content at the core of Snapchat may lean towards being more secure but users that want to wipe their identity off the internet completely will need to say goodbye to the unusual social media platform as well.

Steps for Data Backup

  • Snapchat doesn’t proffer an option to backup all the data it has accumulated in one click. Photos and videos are stored into Snapchat ‘Memories’ Users can back up their Memories by going into the app and clicking on their Profile icon.
  • Click on the gear wheel ‘Settings’ icon and select ‘Memories’ from the list.
  • Select ‘Save To’ from the options and click on ‘Memories and Camera Roll’. This will ensure that all your media on Snapchat will be saved onto your phone or SD card’s memory as well.

Steps for deletion

  • Head over to this link on a web browser.
  • Login: Login with your Snapchat credentials.
  • Click on ‘Delete my account’. Snapchat will confirm if you really want to leave the platform.
  • Deactivation: The deactivation process is now complete. You have 30 days, in case you change your mind and perhaps are incentivised to start a new streak or increase your snap score again. If not, say your final Adios to Snapchat!

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the leading social media platforms for industry professionals probing for prospects to make new connections and showcasing their multifaceted abilities. It encourages networking, rapport building, expanding circles and recruitment and has become a distinct and indispensable tool for working professionals. The platform serves as a makeshift CV and the user enjoys the backing of his colleagues and peers in helping them build up an impressive portfolio. However, it houses a massive amount of professional and personal data that could be wrongly utilised by external forces in case of a data breach.

Steps for Backup

  • Profile: Click on the ‘Me’ tab on the top right-hand side of the app.
  • Settings and Privacy: Go to the ‘Account’ option and click on ‘Settings and privacy’ next.
  • Archive your data: Search through the options under ‘Basics’ until you find an option saying ‘Getting an archive of your data’ and click on it.
  • Select one of the options: 10 minutes or 24 hours. (10 minutes gathers the information easiest to compile like messages, contacts and connections while the 24-hour option downloads your entire LinkedIn archive including your account history and activity.)
  • Email: You will receive an email once your account archive is ready. Return to the app to the ‘Getting an archive of your data’ option and hit download.

Steps for deletion

  • Login: Open up your LinkedIn account on the web or mobile app by entering your login credentials.
  • Profile: Click on the ‘Me’ tab which has your profile picture or the silhouette of a person.
  • Settings and Privacy: Select ‘Settings and Privacy’ from the drop-down menu.
  • Close your account: Scroll to the very bottom of the page and click on ‘Closing your LinkedIn account’. Be warned, if you have a premium membership you will be shown a warning that says you need to cancel the membership before closing your account.
  • Click on the warning link that says “You will need to convert it to a Basic membership”. This link will direct you to the membership cancellation page.
  • Choose your reason for leaving from a list of provided options by LinkedIn and click ‘next’ at the bottom of the page.
  • Re-enter your password and click on ‘Close my account’. You can also check the box below the password field to exempt you from receiving emails or invitations from LinkedIn in the future.

These steps will delete your account from LinkedIn permanently, however, it will take a few weeks for all traces of your account to completely vanish from the platform itself.

Yahoo

Yahoo is definitely a blast from the past! It is highly unlikely that a lot of people are still regularly operating their Yahoo accounts since Gmail stole the show. However, simply being inactive doesn’t delete the previously stored data on Yahoo. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to backup your Yahoo data, but primary emails can be accessed via IMAP. You can plug the Yahoo Mail Settings to an email client of your choice like Gmail or Outlook and all the previous emails and messages will be transferred to the chosen account. In order to delete yourself from Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! Groups and Flickr, you will need to follow a few simple steps.

Steps for deletion

  • Termination link: Visit this link and log in with your credentials.
  • Read the information on the termination of your account and then click ‘Continue’.
  • You will then need to confirm your identity and then select ‘Yes, terminate this account’.

Your account can be reincarnated, if you feel a sudden surge of nostalgia, within the next 40 days. Post the grace period, your Yahoo account will be permanently deleted.

Picking off the scraps

Congratulations! You have cleared up the platforms that hold the maximum amount of data and are of maximum risk to your data security. It’s time to clear up the remains now. This constitutes all the forgotten accounts you may have created throughout your online journey over years. Fear not! You need not struggle through attempting to remember every little move you may have made. There are a few tools that will do the needful for you, while you sit back and relax.

  • Account Killer: This site has encompassed a massive database of over 500 sites and will provide you with a direct link required to deactivate all of them.
  • Just Delete Me: It offers similar services, with an extra Chrome extension that will illuminate every time you are on a site it recognises. It magically conjures up the deletion page of the site you just visited. Easy and hassle-free.
  • Knowem: Still worried about the sites you have forgotten and the above two tools may have missed out? Knowem does a simple username search and on over 500 popular social media sites which effectively addresses this situation.
  • Deseat.me: This one is ridiculously simple. Sign in with your Google or Outlook account and the website offers a comprehensive list of every service you have signed in for. Add every service you want to terminate to the list and watch them vanish!

Social media and internet abstinence is an extremely wearisome practice. The feeling of being out of the loop and isolated when it comes to juicy references or viral memes maybe a cumbersome emotion to deal with, but it also awards you with an individualistic identity, being nonconforming to the status quo. The absence of a comprehensive online presence can be jolting, considering how hard and fast everything is moving towards digital. While there is no way to completely erase yourself from the internet as courts and government agencies have resorted to posting all public records online since the 1990s, these steps will significantly diminish your digital footprint. Enjoy the resurgence of privacy, security and sanity this arduous task has provided you. It’s not for everyone but it may be for you.

Dhriti Datta

Dhriti Datta

Reader, thinker, writer. Dhriti spends most of her time engrossed in technology reviews and gaming walkthroughs. When not at her post-graduation college studying journalism, she can be found eating, singing out loud and whining incessantly about the smallest things.