How to disappear from the internet and delete your Facebook and Instagram accounts forever: it should be easier

Disengaging from Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp can be complicated.

It’s never exactly easy to close a social media account you’ve had for years. For many of us, our accounts are filled with years of photos, memories and memes that aren’t easy to part with, even if we’re ready to stop the habit of daily scrolling. For Facebook, Instagram and other Meta services, deleting an account completely isn’t necessarily simple either.

And even if all the services are run by the same company, there’s no centralized way to delete all meta-associated accounts. The good news is that deleting these accounts is in many cases much easier than it has been in the past, even if a few extra steps are sometimes involved.

Read on to find out exactly how to delete your Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and Oculus accounts.

First, download your data

Whatever your reasons for wanting to leave your accounts behind, it’s worth taking the time to download all your data before deleting them permanently. Downloading your data will ensure that you have a record of previous posts, messages, photos and other activity.

These data archives look a little different for each service, but they generally contain your past posts, a record of the account you follow, your messages, and even some of your previous activity on the service. Some, like Facebook, will even provide a record of what the site’s advertisers know about you.

In other words: that’s a lot of data. And it might not seem worth keeping a lot of it, but if you’ve used an account for years, it’s a good way to keep a record of past photos, videos, and other posts. Though you should also be prepared to dig up some data you might not want to remember, such as conversations with ex-partners or photos from college.

On Facebook, you can access your archive from: Settings and privacy -> Settings -> Your information. Facebook -> download information -> request download.

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On Instagram, it’s More -> Settings -> Privacy and security -> Download data -> Request download.

On WhatsApp, it’s Settings ->gt; Account -> Request account information.

On Messenger, downloads must be initiated through the mobile app. On both Android and iOS, go to Account Settings (located in the “chats” tab) -> Your information. Facebook -> Download information. You’ll then be able to specify a few aspects of the data, such as media quality, data format, and the range of data you want the download to cover.

For Oculus and Meta Quest users, you can use the “download information” tool here.

Once you’ve hidden your data archives, you’ll be ready to permanently destroy your accounts. Although, like data downloads, it can take up to a few days for the process to be completed.

How to delete Facebook

Before you permanently delete Facebook, a word of caution: destroying your account will also destroy third-party accounts where you also used Facebook to log in. In some cases, you may be able to recover them through the app’s support channels, but there’s no guarantee. Follow the steps here to check which apps and websites use Facebook as a login.

Also, if your Oculus account is linked to your Facebook identity, then deleting Facebook will also permanently delete your Oculus account, including your previous purchases. Of note, Meta now allows VR users to create a separate “Meta account” that is not based on Facebook.

Once you’re sure you’re ready to delete, you can find the option in Settings and Privacy -> Settings -> Your Information. Facebook -> Deactivate and delete -> Delete account -> Continue account deletion -> Delete account.

However, even after you hit the final “delete” button, Facebook notes that it takes about 30 days for your information to be completely removed. This also means that if you happen to change your mind within 30 days, you can cancel your request. According to the company, it can take up to 90 days to complete the deletion process, though your profile and other information won’t be visible to others on Facebook during that time.

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How to delete Instagram

For Instagram, you need to go to the “Delete Account” page, which can be found here. From there, you’ll need to select a reason from the drop-down menu and enter your password.

As with Facebook, Instagram notes that it can take “up to 90 days from the start of the deletion process to delete everything you’ve posted,” though posts won’t be visible to others on the platform during that time.

How to delete Facebook Messenger

If you delete a Facebook account, your Messenger account will also be permanently deleted, so you don’t have to go through any additional steps if you’ve already deleted your Facebook presence. But it’s also worth noting that simply deactivating Facebook won’t affect your ability to use Messenger or other users’ ability to find you in the app.

If, however, you happen to use Messenger without an associated Facebook account, you can delete your account through the app. On both iOS and Android: Account settings -> Delete account and information and enter your password.

How to delete WhatsApp

WhatsApp accounts can be deleted directly from the app via Settings -> Account -> Delete my account. The app will then prompt you to enter your phone number. As with Facebook and Instagram, the company says the full deletion process can take up to 90 days.

How to delete an Oculus or Meta account

As mentioned above, if you used Facebook to log into your Oculus account, then deleting Facebook will take care of that. If, however, your Oculus login details have been separated, you need to log into your account on the Oculus website from a browser, then navigate to My Profile -> Privacy Center -> Delete Oculus Account.

Of note, this process will only work until January 1, 2023, when Meta will force all Oculus accounts to migrate to the new Meta accounts mentioned above. For those newer Meta accounts, you can delete your presence by going to auth.meta.com/settings, logging in, selecting “Delete Account”, re-entering your password, and choosing “Delete Data”.

Again, note that this will prevent you from using the VR headset and will remove any purchases you previously made.

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