How to Shut Down Your Facebook Account

Closing vs. Suspending Facebook

Closing Facebook
Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

To close Facebook and permanently terminate your account can be challenging because there are different ways of closing Facebook accounts based on whether you want to preserve the option of reactivating your user ID later.

But for people who want to make a clean, permanent exit and delete Facebook from their lives, here's a simple summary of how to do it and what to consider before pulling the plug.

Close Facebook vs. Suspend Facebook

The language the network uses to refer to a permanent account shutdown is delete Facebook account --in other words, "delete" is the verb Facebook uses to describe an irreversible account closing. When people "delete" their accounts, they cannot retrieve any of their account information, photos or postings later. To rejoin Facebook, they'd have to start an entirely new account.

For people who just want a temporary suspension, or who want to retain the ability to reactivate their ID and information in case they change their mind later, the verb Facebook uses is "deactivate" and that process is different. (See our separate guide on how to deactivate Facebook or temporarily suspend your account.)

Either way, the material you put online for the most part becomes inaccessible to your "friends" as well as to everyone else on the network, either permanently (if you delete) or temporarily (if you deactivate.) Each process has a different form to fill out. This article explains how to delete or close a Facebook account, not suspend it.

Quitting Facebook For Good

Okay, so you've decided you've had enough of the world's largest social network. How should you permanently close your Facebook account?

A couple of things to think about first:

Save Your Stuff

How many photos and videos have you posted, and do you have backup copies of them either online or online? If your only copies are on Facebook, will it bother you if they all go away? If so, you might want to take time to save some of the images offline before closing your account. One way to do this is to download your Facebook archive. Go to "account settings," then "general," then "download a copy of my Facebook data," then "start my archive."

Contact Info for Friends 

Do you have a lot of contacts/friends on Facebook that you don't have in your email contacts list or on another networking site like LinkedIn? If so, you may want to scroll through your friends list and make a copy of contact info for the people you think you might want to stay in touch with or be able to contact later. And if there are too many, then you might consider going the temporary suspension route rather than the permanent deletion route, so you could always restore your Facebook account to see your contacts list again if you needed access. At the very least, be sure to download your Facebook archive as described above: it will include a list of all your friends. Another option is to make a post asking your friends to message you with their contact info --and include their birthdays. Knowing the birthdays of friends is one thing people say they really miss after leaving Facebook.

Web Apps 

Do you have a lot of other apps on the Web or on your mobile phone that currently use your Facebook ID as your login? Examples might be Instagram, Pinterest, or Spotify. If you have many apps that use Facebook, it may be a hassle close your account on a permanent basis because you'll need to revise your login for each app. You can check which apps use your Facebook login by going into "account settings" in the drop-down menu at the upper top right, then choose "APPS." Most apps let you go in and change your login, but not all. Just be sure to check this before permanently closing Facebook.

Finding and Filling Out the "Delete" Form

Ok, so now you've decided you are ready to shut down your account for good and stop Facebooking.

There's an easy way to do it, but the exit form can be challenging to find since Facebook no longer lists it under your "account settings." You can always go to Facebook help and search for "delete Facebook" or just use this direct link to Facebook's "delete my account" page. Then fill out the form after reading the warnings and instructions for "deleting" your account.

Initially, the delete page should contain the following warning: "If you do not think you will use Facebook again and would like your account deleted, we can take care of this for you. Keep in mind that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added. If you would still like your account deleted, click "Delete My Account".

If that is indeed what you want to do - permanently leave the network - then go ahead and click the blue "Delete My Account" button to get started. You'll still have another screen where you can change your mind.

The next screen will ask a few questions before it invites you to confirm your decision. Keep in mind, once you confirm, the deletion cannot be undone.

Facebook says takes a couple of weeks for the account to be deleted. While a few residual traces of your user ID may remain buried inside Facebook's databases, none of that information will be accessible to you, the public or anyone else on Facebook.

More Help for Leaving Facebook

Facebook has its own help page for shuttering accounts and quitting the network.

Here are a few common reasons to delete Facebook that people often cite when leaving.

Seven Warning Signs of Facebook Addiction