How to get off social media

The internet is an amazing digital playground, but once you have gotten tired of each new service, how can you stop the merry-go-round to get off? What if you want to break up with the internet?

It’s easier than you would think. Here’s how to go about getting off the most common social media sites.

Closing down Facebook

The granddaddy of social media offers two ways to disentangle yourself from its clutches.

Deactivation puts your account on pause. Your account disappears from the site as if it no longer exists, but if you have second thoughts and start to panic, you can reactivate it and pick up where you left off. Deletion is permanent. Once you do it, your Facebook account and all its posts are gone forever.

Deactivating your account

Go to the drop-down menu on the top right of your Facebook page, and choose Settings, then General from the menu on the left. Look for Manage Account and then towards the bottom, click on Deactivate your account. Facebook will ask for your password to verify.

Your account will now go to sleep. You’ll stop receiving notifications. Even searching for your account will turn up nothing.

Deleting your account

Log into Facebook, then load up facebook.com/help/delete account. You’ll see a button that says Delete My Account. Click it and follow the prompts. And that’s it: Your Facebook account is gone forever. If you ever change your mind, you’ll need to create a new account.

Closing down Twitter

Separating yourself from Twitter is super simple, although, you can only do this from a PC. It’s not possible to delete your account using the mobile app.

Open your page on twitter.com. Click on your profile picture in the top left corner and select Settings from the drop-down menu.

On the page that opens, scroll to the bottom and find Deactivate my account. Click it, enter your password and you’re done. Your account will be deactivated for 30 days. You can change your mind and reactivate it within this grace period. After that the account is permanently deleted.

Closing down Google

This is a biggie. Before you go ahead with this one, you should know that Google is more than just your GMail account. Deleting your Google account will also delete your accounts on all Google services including YouTube, Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Docs and, of course, your Android profile. If there’s anything important in there, remember to back it up first.

Now, if you’re still determined to erase this part of your digital identity, log into your Google account, then go to google.com/accounts/Delete Account. Fill in your password when prompted. You’ll be taken to a page that lists all the data linked to your account, and you’ll be given the option to download it all. At the bottom of the page are two checkboxes you’ll need to tick to confirm the deletion. For the final step, click Delete Account and you are done.

Grave situation

We spend so much time and energy capturing our lives on social media sites; posting photos, and writing about experiences, that it makes sense to leave instructions on what to do with these digital assets after we pass on. Legal advisers at BDO Wealth Advisers recommend formalising the process in a Social Media and Digital Assets Will, which deals with what you would like to happen to your social media content, as well as with your data stored on cloud servers, your phone and PC.

Companies such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will very seldom hand over your data to third parties. But if you want your digital life archived after your death, you should name a Digital Executor in your Social Media and Digital Assets Will, and create records of what sites and services to access, and supply the passwords. It might sound a bit morbid, but you could end up saving your loved ones a lot of anxiety and effort by dealing with these issues upfront.

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