With online privacy all over the news today, the public is being made aware of the staggering amount of information that social media platforms collect about them. For example, did you know that it’s possible for Facebook to have your name, address, social security number, credit card number, bank account number, mother’s maiden name, as well as knowing where you are at any given time? Twitter and Google may also have the same information about you, and you’d never even know it. If you’re among the group of internet users who would prefer not to have your personal information out on the web, continue reading to find out how to permanently delete your Facebook, Twitter, and Google accounts, as well as how to purge your data from these services.
How to Delete a Facebook Account
We’ll start with the worst offender. To permanently delete your account, do NOT follow Facebook’s guide for “deactivating” your account, as this process still keeps your information on their servers, and your profile can be restored and reactivated at any time. Instead, click the privacy icon in the top-right, then the magnifying glass icon to search for a topic, then type “delete” and one of the first results should be how to delete your profile permanently. There will be a long blurb, and a link to delete your account at the end of the second paragraph. Make your selection on that form, and your account will be purged and permanently deleted after 14 days.
Deleting a Twitter Account
Twitter is fortunately a bit more straightforward than Facebook. After logging in, click your profile icon in the top-right, then Settings, then scroll to the bottom and click Deactivate My Account. Enter your password to confirm, then click the Deactivate button. Unfortunately, while your account will be gone, cached versions of your tweets and activity may still be retained by Google and other search engines, and there is no way to delete something from search engine caches.
How to Delete a Google Account
While they’re far from a paragon of online privacy, Google has at least made it easy to delete your accounts and data. They’ve set up a dedicated page to walk you through deleting some, or all, of your Google account. You also have the option of downloading an archive of all data you’ve uploaded to Google in case you need it for your records. You may also wish to remove other services from your Google account using these steps. If you have an Android phone or use a Google account on another mobile OS, be sure to remove or disassociate your account with the phone so it stops uploading your location.
In summary, maintaining your online footprint is an important responsibility of every internet user. If you’ve decided that enough is enough and you no longer want to give away your personal information through social media, take these steps to permanently delete your accounts and win back your privacy.