I hadn't used any of my accounts for months, my data was just hanging out there with no real purpose. One day, I finally decided the time had come to get rid of my old posts and photos.
You may be asking yourself, "why bother keeping my accounts at all?" A totally valid question. For me, it was half nostalgia and half "I may need this stuff again one day." Plus, I use Facebook Messenger a decent amount and didn't want to start fresh on that end. But sure, if you're going all-in, just delete your accounts outright and you'll be good to go.
Bye Bye Data
Twitter proved to be super easy using Cardigan. A few quick clicks and all of my 20k+ Tweets went to the wind.
Facebook, on the other hand, was more of an undertaking than I had anticipated. Believe it or not, Facebook doesn't easily let you erase things like posts, tags and photos — so you have to get a bit creative.
How to delete Facebook posts
The base of my project consisted of a Chrome extension called Social Book Post Manager (which I can imagine is quite popular lately). The extension basically runs on your Activity Log and allows you to delete posts, unlike posts and hide/unhide posts from your Facebook history. You can drill down and run it by year & month, or just "select all" and go to town. There's also a speed setting that allows you to dial-in how well it works.
By default, the extension runs at 4x. This worked pretty well for an initial pass, but as I soon found out, it missed quite a bit. The big hiccup here is that you really need to run the extension over and over a few times (that was my case at least) to make sure it hits on every post. Be forewarned — depending on your Facebook history this could take anywhere from a few hours to a day or more.
My process involved running the extension multiple times for deletion, unliking and hiding posts. It took me about a day and a half to finally get each sweep to return zero results. On to the next phase: Photos.
How to delete Facebook photos
If you've managed to be organized and put your photos into albums all along your Facebook journey, your methods will pay off big time now. Deleting albums is much easier than deleting individual photos as you can kill an entire album (and the photos within) with just a few clicks, whereas standalone photos have to be removed one-by-one. Yikes.
How to delete a Facebook photo album
This process is fairly quick and painless (depending on how many albums you may have) and removes the album itself and all the photos within said album.
- Go to your Photos page and click on Albums.
- Go to the album you want to delete
- Click the gear on the top right and select Delete Album
- Click to confirm
How to delete individual Facebook photos
This is one of those "wow, do I really want to do this?" moments. If you have a lot of photos that don't have an album to call home, this will take you quite a while. Yes, you need to delete each individual photo one at a time — and it sucks.
- Go to your photos page
- Click the photo to open it
- Click Options on the menu bar below the photo
- Select Delete This Photo and click Delete
After you delete one photo, click the right arrow to scroll to the next and repeat the process.
How to untag yourself from Facebook photos
While you can delete your own photos, you may still be tagged in photos that someone else has posted. For these, you'll have to remove your tag from each one to be set free.
- Go to your activity log, then click Photos and Videos (under Filters on the left) then choose Photos You're Tagged In
- Click to check the box to the left of the posts you'd like to remove a tag from
- Click Report/Remove Tags at the top of the page
- Click Untag Photos to confirm
Keep in mind here that you can only choose 10 photos at a time. So select 10, remove your tag, then do another 10. Not as painful as removing one-by-one, but it's not far off.
You'll probably still be left with a few stranglers even after going through this process. I had a few posts that kept throwing errors when I tried to untag myself, so I'll just check back later and try again. You may also want to untag yourself from other people's posts (which you can do from your Activity Log under Posts You're Tagged In) or even remove your personal details like education & work info, contact info, and even your real name.
The purpose here is to keep your original Facebook account mostly intact in case you use it for other purposes like app logins or Messenger. But the one truly surefire way to get rid of your data for good is to just delete the whole damn thing.
Updated December 2018: Updated steps for deleting your info from Facebook.