It’s never exactly easy to pull the plug on 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 are ready to stop the daily scrolling habit. For Facebook, Instagram and other Meta-run services, deleting an account entirely isn’t necessarily straightforward, either.
And even though all the services are run by the same company, there isn’t one centralized way to delete all your Meta-associated accounts. The good news is that removing these accounts is in many cases a lot easier than it has been in the past, even if there are sometimes a few extra steps involved. Keep reading to find out exactly how to delete your Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and Oculus accounts.
First, download your data
Regardless of your reasons for wanting to leave your accounts behind, it’s worth it to take the time to download all your data before you delete them for good. Downloading your data will ensure you have a record of your prior posts, messages, photos and other activity.
These data archives look a little different for each service, but in general they contain your previous posts, a record of what accounts you follow, your messages and even some of your past activity on the services. Some, like Facebook, will even provide a record of what the site’s advertisers know about you.
In other words: it’s a lot of data. And it may not seem like a lot of that is worth hanging onto, but if you’ve used an account for years it’s a good way to preserve a record of your past photos, videos and other posts. (Though you should also be prepared for it to surface some data you might not want to remember, like conversations with former partners or cringey college photos.)
On Facebook, you can access your archive from: Settings & Privacy -> Settings -> Your Facebook Information -> download your information -> request download.
On Instagram, it’s More -> Settings -> Privacy and Security -> Data download -> Request download.
On WhatsApp, it’s Settings -> Account -> Request account info. (Of note, WhatsApp’s reports don’t include the content of your actual messages. If you want to preserve a copy of your messages, you’ll need to export your chat history on each message thread you wish to hang onto.
On Messenger, downloads have to be initiated through the mobile app. On both Android and iOS, go to Account Settings (located in the “chats” tab) -> Your Facebook Information -> Download your information. You’ll then be able to specify a few aspects of the data, like the media quality, data format and date range you want the download to cover.
Once you have your data archives stashed away, you’ll be ready to permanently nuke your accounts. Though, like the data downloads, it can take up to several days for the process to be complete.
How to delete Facebook
Before you permanently delete Facebook, a word of caution: nuking your account will also nuke third-party accounts where you’ve also used Facebook to log-in. In some cases, you might be able to recover them via the app’s support channels, but there’s no guarantee. Follow the steps here to review which apps and websites you use Facebook as a log in.
Likewise, if your Oculus account is linked to your Facebook identity, then deleting your Facebook will also permanently delete your Oculus account, including your past purchases. (Of note, Meta now allows VR users to create a separate “Meta account” that doesn’t rely on Facebook.)
Once you’re sure you’re ready to delete, you can find the option from Settings & Privacy -> Settings -> Your Facebook Information -> Deactivation and Deletion -> Delete Account -> Continue to account deletion -> Delete Account
However, even after you’ve smashed the final “delete” button, Facebook notes that it still takes around 30 days for your information to be purged entirely. That also means that if you do happen to change your mind within 30 days, you can cancel the request. According to the company, it can take up to 90 days for the deletion process to complete, though your profile and other info won’t be visible to others on Facebook during that time.
How to delete Instagram
As with Facebook, Instagram notes that it can take “up to 90 days from the beginning of the deletion process to delete all the things 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 need to go through extra steps if you’ve already purged your Facebook presence. But it’s also worth noting that simply deactivating your Facebook won’t affect your ability to use Messenger or other users’ ability to find you on the app.
If, however, you happen to use Messenger without an associated Facebook account, you can delete your account via the app. On Both iOS and Android: Account Settings -> Delete Your 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.
As noted above, if you used Facebook to login to your Oculus account, then deleting Facebook will take care of it. If, however, your Oculus login was separate, you need to log in to your account on Oculus’ website from a browser, then navigate to My Profile -> Privacy Center -> Delete Your 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 heading to auth.meta.com/settings, logging in, selecting “delete your account,” entering your password again and choosing “delete your data.”
Again, keep in mind this will prevent you from using your VR headset, and will remove any past purchases you’ve made.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.