Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, users have been turning their backs on Facebook in droves. To be fair, it probably also has something to do with the growing popularity of alternative social networks, such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

For those who remain, Facebook remains one of the most popular communication tools. Shutting yourself off from its network may be akin to closing down communication with people with which you otherwise have no contact.

Though privacy concerns are valid, it's possible to avoid giving your data to third-party apps, and to lock down your profile. But if you don't trust Facebook itself with your personal data, you may question your decision to continue handing it over.

One of the sticking points for not deleting Facebook has long been the fact that you would lose all your data - especially photos - stored on the platform. It's possible to download this data, of course, but now Facebook has made it easier to get around this by allowing you to transfer them to Google Photos.

How to permanently delete Facebook

Deactivate or delete Facebook

  • Be aware that permanent deletion of your Facebook account cannot be undone
  • Either visit the Delete Account page in your web browser, or tap the down arrow and choose Settings > Your Facebook Information and click View next to Deactivation and deletion
  • Notice that there are new options here to first download your data and to simply deactivate your account if you want to carry on using Messenger
  • If you're sure you want to continue, click 'Delete my account'

On a smartphone tap the three lines icon, then choose Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook Information > Account ownership and control > Deactivation and deletion > Delete account.

How to temporarily disable Facebook

A better alternative for those who aren't entirely sure they'll never want to come back to Facebook is to disable their account. This way they won't lose any of their stuff, such as contacts and photos. You can do this using the method outlined above, by visiting the Delete Account Page in your browser but then opting to deactivate rather than delete your account:  

  • Log into Facebook in your browser
  • Tap the down arrow at the top right of the page and choose Settings
  • Select Your Facebook Information from the panel on the left
  • Click View next to Deactivation and deletion
  • Select 'Deactivate account'
  • Click Continue to Account Deactivation
  • Enter your Facebook password
  • Give a reason for leaving, tick the Email Opt-out button, decide whether or not you want to keep using Messenger, then click Deactivate
  • You can re-enable your account at any point by signing into Facebook

On a smartphone, tap the three lines icon, then choose Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook Information > Account ownership and control > Deactivation and deletion >  Deactivate account. Tap Continue to Account Deactivation, enter your password, select a reason for deactivating and tap Continue.

How to download Facebook data

Download Facebook Data

If you want to keep the information and data on your Facebook account before you delete it, you can download everything as an archive on to your computer. Facebook can download the posts, photos and videos you've shared, your messages and chat conversations, information from the About section of your profile, and more.

  • Log into Facebook in your browser
  • Tap the down arrow at the top right of the page and choose Settings
  • Select Your Facebook Information from the panel on the left
  • Click View next to Download your information
  • Select which items you wish to download and click Create File

On a smartphone tap the three lines icon, then choose Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook Information > Download Your Information.

How to back up Facebook photos and video to Google Photos

Transfer Facebook Photos and Video to Google Photos

  • Log into Facebook in your browser
  • Tap the down arrow icon at the top right of the page and choose Settings
  • Select Your Facebook Information from the panel on the left
  • Click View next to Transfer a copy of your photos or videos
  • Select Google Photos from the Choose Destination drop-down menu
  • Select Photos and/or Videos
  • Click Next
  • You will need to sign into your Google account and grant permission for the transfer

On a smartphone tap the three lines icon then choose Settings & Privacy > Settings > Your Facebook Information > Transfer a copy of your photos or videos.

Read next: Most common Facebook scams and How to secure Facebook