Can’t #DeleteFacebook? Here’s How to Download the “Secret File” That Facebook Stores on You and Delete That Data

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Mar 28
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Facebook’s stock value may be going down and #DeleteFacebook may have attracted momentum over on Twitter, but statistics reveal that users aren’t actually deleting their Facebook accounts. While some believe you would be able to live without Facebook, there are millions who use the platform to not only connect with their friends and family but also to run their online businesses. If you think #DeleteFacebook is a big ask, here is how you can manage to use the platform without giving the data monster access to your entire digital life.

Download Facebook data that the company is collecting about you

If you want to first see what data Facebook has on you, follow these steps:

zuckerberg-testimonyRelated FTC and PwC’s 2017 Privacy Audit of Facebook Failed to Catch Cambridge Analytica

  1. Log into Facebook.
  2. Click on the arrow on the upper-right corner > click on Settingshow to download facebook data
  3. Over here, you will find a Download a copy of your Facebook data at the bottom of the page.  delete facebook data
  4. Click on Start My Archive on the next screen. download facebook data
  5. It will ask you to enter your password to confirm the process.
  6. Once you enter your password, the company will start generating your personal archive and will send you a confirmation email.delete facebook data
  7. After a few minutes, you will receive another email and a new notification on Facebook alerting you that your archive is ready for download.  
  8. The company will again ask you to confirm your password before you can download the archive.

Delete Facebook data without deleting your account

With over 1.4 billion people logging on to Facebook every single day to catch up with their friends, run their businesses, consume news, and follow their favorite celebrities, Facebook gets to have an unprecedented level of access to your data. After all, it comes for free, which means you are the product.

If you are surprised by the amount of data Facebook collects on you (you can check it through the above archive), you can delete Facebook data from Activity Log that shows every single activity since the day you signed up to sell your data.

In an announcement today, the company promised to introduce new tools that will make it easier for people to see and delete their data. We will update this piece once those tools start rolling out to the public.

delete-facebook-data-2Related Facebook Gets Shadier: Quietly Tries to Exclude 1.5 Billion Users from Privacy Protections

How to limit what advertisers receive from your Facebook account

To avoid incidents like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, follow these steps:

  1. Log into Facebook.
  2. Click on Settings > Apps.
  3. Under Apps, Websites and Plugins, click on Edit button and Disable Platform.  disable facebook platform

If you don’t want to completely disable platform (this restricts you from using your Facebook account to log into other apps/games), you can still control what data is at risk because of your friends and third party apps. Under Apps Others Use, click on Edit and uncheck information that you don’t want apps used by your friends to see.

Finally, to limit Facebook from tracking you off the site and around the web, go to Settings Ads and turn off Facebook’s ability to track you and collect data about you from other websites that you visit.

On the mobile app…

You can tap on the hamburger menu to go to Account Settings and click on Apps and Ads to access these same settings as above. The Apps menu will present you a list of all the apps and games that are using most of your Facebook data. [Hint: it’s not just Instagram and Twitter; you might be surprised by some names in that list.]

Inspired by Elon Musk? Just delete it!

Ready for the big decision? Head over to https://m.facebook.com/account/delete [clickable link], enter your password and submit your request to delete the Facebook account. This step also made me realize I’m the “only developer for 3 Platform applications,” which I have no recollection of. But well, another reason to just get out of this Orwellian ecosystem.

Please note that deactivating the account is not the same as tweaking these above settings or deleting your account. Deactivating essentially does nothing in terms of your stored data. Facebook doesn’t make this process easy and, in fact, makes it easier for users to deactivate instead of deleting their account, which explains why stats don’t reveal many users abandoning the ship.

“Keep in mind that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added,” Facebook warns. It could take 90 days before data associated with your account is completely [hopefully] removed from Facebook’s servers.

– We will keep this piece updated as new tools are released to hopefully make things easier. 

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