This story has been updated. It was originally published on January 20, 2018.
In theory, social media promises to connect you with the world. In practice, it compromises your personal privacy, puts you at risk of online abuse, and makes you unsatisfied and unhappy with your real life. If you’re irritated by Twitter or depressed by Facebook, you don’t have to stick around.
You can, of course, avoid social media for limited periods of time. But when you’re ready to say goodbye for good, it’s time to delete those apps from your phone and shut down your accounts entirely. Here’s how to do it, one network at a time.
Next, make sure you’re deleting your account for the right reason. If you’re ready to bid farewell to the whirlwind of social media, that’s fine. But if you’re only closing down your current social media account so you can create a new one for a fresh start, hit pause. Your first step should be to check the do-over options the network gives you. On Instagram, for instance, you can change your username without shutting down your existing account. Once you’ve exhausted the existing options, you can move on to deactivating or deleting your account.
How to delete Facebook
When you get fed up with Facebook, you have two ways to remove yourself from the giant network: deactivation or deletion.
Let’s start with the less extreme option. If you deactivate your account, it will disappear from Facebook, but you can bring it back at any time. The network will also retain all of your data, which will be waiting for you if you decide to go back. Simply log in to your account again, and Facebook will reactivate it.
To deactivate your account from a web browser, visit the site and click the menu button (down arrow) in the top right corner of the screen. Choose Settings & privacy, then Settings, and Your Facebook Information. From there, click Deactivation and deletion, select Deactivate account, and hit Continue to account deactivation. On the next screen, Facebook will prompt you for your password and ask you to give a reason for leaving, such as privacy concerns or wasted time. Make your choice and click Continue to finish up.
You can also deactivate your account through a mobile app. On iOS, open the app and hit the menu button (three lines) in the lower right corner. Then tap Settings & privacy, Settings, Personal and Account Information, Account Ownership and Control, and Deactivate. On Android, you follow the same process, but the menu button looks like three horizontal lines and you can reach Account Ownership and Control from the first submenu.
Deactivation is a good way to test the waters and see if you can live without Facebook. Give it a few months and see how you feel. When you’re ready to say goodbye to your account forever, delete it. To do so, follow the same steps for deactivation, but choose Delete account when given the option. As far as your friends are concerned, you will disappear immediately. However, Facebook may take up to 90 days to fully erase all of your data. Once you do that, there’s no going back.
How to delete Twitter
If you’ve had all you can take of hashtags and threads, you can deactivate your Twitter account. The social network will hang on to your data for a set period, but after that, it will permanently get rid of your account.
To trash Twitter, you’ll need to visit this page in a web browser and click Deactivate your account. Read the information Twitter provides, then click Deactivate. You’ll receive a prompt to enter your password and to confirm that yes, you really do want to deactivate your account.
Once you do so, the process of erasing your Twitter presence starts. As far as other users can see, your profile and tweets will vanish immediately. However, Twitter hangs on to your data for a grace period of 30 days (verified users get a full 12 months) to make sure you don’t change your mind. During this time, you can still log back into the site, an act that will restore your profile and all of your tweets from the digital grave.
After that 30- to 365-day period ends, Twitter will officially delete your data and you will lose it forever. So if you repent your decision and decide to return to Twitter, you’ll need to sign up for a brand new account.
How to delete Instagram
Nothing instills FOMO quite like your friends’ smug Instagram photos. Remove them from your life by deactivating or deleting your account.
To deactivate online, go to the Instagram website. Log in, click your profile icon in the top right, choose Settings, and Edit Profile. Scroll all the way down and select Temporarily disable my account—you’ll notice this is not so much a button but a link to the right of the Submit button, so it’s easy to miss. Once you do that, you’ll have to decide on a reason why you no longer feel the Instagram love—options range from Just need a break to Too many ads. Finally, enter your account password and click Temporarily Disable Account.
Much like Facebook’s deactivation option, this choice will put your account on hold. As far as other users know, your Instagram page is gone, but the social network will hang on to your photos, comments, and other data. Log into the site again, and it will instantly restore your account.
For a more permanent fix, you’ll need to go to the dedicated Delete Your Account page online. Log in, give a reason for your desertion, and enter your password. Finally, click Permanently delete my account. This will wipe all traces of your Instagram life from the network’s servers, including the likes and instant messages. If you decide to come back, you’ll have to start again from scratch.
You can find the same options in the app. Tap your profile icon, then the menu button (three lines) Settings, Account, and Delete account. There, the app will ask if you want to disable your account instead of deleting it, but both options are available.
How to delete TikTok
Maybe you’ve had enough of the choreographed dances and you think it’s time to call it quits with the clock app. That’s ok—it’s actually very easy to do.
Open your TikTok profile, tap the menu button (three lines) in the top right corner of the screen, and go to Settings and privacy. There, go to Manage account (top of the list), and tap Delete account at the bottom.
TikTok will ask why you are leaving, and—depending on the reason—offer a solution to try to retain you. For example, if you just want to take a break, a message will appear telling you that you can reactivate your account within the next 30 days. If you think you’re spending too much time on TikTok, the app will offer to set a limit for your watch time.
If you’ve made up your mind and just want to get out of there, tap Skip at the top right corner of your screen and bow out. You’ll still get 30 days before your account is completely gone, so if you change your mind before then, just log into the platform with your credentials and tap Cancel deactivation at the bottom of the screen.
How to delete Snapchat
If Snapchat loses its appeal, have your account disappear like the vanishing photos that made the social network a hit.
To do that, you’ll need to open your web browser and head to this page—it is solely dedicated to helping you delete your account. Sign in and enter your username and password again on the subsequent screen to confirm you actually want to kick Snapchat to the curb. Click Continue, and the process of removing you from Snapchat will begin.
From this point on, your friends won’t be able to contact you on Snapchat, but as with Twitter, you’ll get a 30-day grace period before permanent deletion occurs. If you log back into the network before that time is up, your account will reappear and you can carry on as before with the same username and contacts list.
After the 30 days pass, Snapchat will permanently erase your account from its network. To come back from that, you’ll have to start adding friends and collecting Snaps all over again.
Keep in mind that if you requested your data to Snapchat and haven’t received it yet, you should wait until you hear back from them before you terminate your account. Once you finish the process, all your ties with the platform will be cut, so when your data is ready, they won’t be able to notify you or send you a download link.
How to delete other social networks
Although Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat currently dominate the app charts, they’re not the only social networks out there. Still, you can always find the option to close your account.
While these networks will let you delete your account, they won’t always make that option easy to find (To deactivate Tumblr, for example, simply scroll to the bottom of the settings page.) So if you get stuck, check the support pages for that network, which should point you in the right direction. Support pages should also provide details about exactly what happens to your data when you click “delete” and how quickly it disappears from existence.