Disengage, Disable or Delete: Which Choice is Right for Abandoning Social Media?

Photo by Book Catalog via Flickr
With all the news out, it may be tempting to outright delete your Facebook account, but consider trying these things first.
There are plenty of good reasons to leave social media in the dust. From the amount of time it can take up to the toxic nature of posts to the privacy concerns, there are many people who have decided to cut the cord from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others in the recent months, sparked in part by revelations of Facebook's sharing of user data and the manipulation its platform during the 2016 election.

We recently gave you eight things to try before dumping Facebook entirely. But that may not have been enough. Maybe it really is time for you to ditch your connection to social media. The question now is: What is the appropriate approach? And, yes, there are different ways to do it, some with greater finality than others. If it is time to get off social media, here are the three ways to do it in order of least to most severe.


Most new phones now have built-in monitors of your screen time. They tell you how much you are using an app, how much time you look at your phone. Ever read yours? It can be rather jarring. Finding out how much time you spend on social media is often the impetus for putting the brakes on how much you use it. In those instances, the best solution might be simply to disconnect.

That could be as easy as putting down the phone or turning off the computer. It could mean shuffling your apps so Facebook isn't on the home screen — particularly effective if you are averse to too much swiping. Or, if you really need to do it, you can simply delete the app from your phone, remove the link from your bookmarks and choose to not engage that way.

This is the most benign option, but often the most effective because it leaves the control in your hands. You can add the app whenever you like or move it around on your phone. The choice is entirely yours. It's also the easiest when it comes to reengaging.


In other instances, you might need a little more forceful break. If you find it too difficult to resist the lure of social media, suspending your use by disabling your account could be a good way to make it tougher for you to log in later.

Different social media platforms have different rules on how to do this. Facebook is probably the easiest, allowing you to save all your information while hiding it from the public through the process of Deactivation. Twitter is a little more severe. Once you disable your account, you have 30 days to restore it or it is gone for good. Instagram doesn't share how long they will keep an account that is "Temporarily Disabled," but it isn't forever. So, choose your options wisely here.


If you are truly done with it all and you can't take it any more, you can delete your accounts. One of the best reasons to do this is if you want greater privacy or anonymity. Maybe you have things in your history you don't want people seeing or that you don't like. Ultimately, deleting your data is the one way to insure it goes away for good.

Deleting your account removes EVERYTHING from your accounts PERMANENTLY. We capitalize those words so you understand what that means. All your posts, likes, photos...gone forever. In the case of Facebook, this does NOT include your private messages, which are handled separately and must be deleted individually. But everything else is wiped out.

If you do want to go this route, be sure to back up whatever you don't want to lose before deleting. Some services give you a brief grace period of a week or so to change your mind, but don't take that chance if you aren't completely sure.

But, if you really do want out, this is the way to do it.

One additional option...

If you are concerned about past behavior, consider cleaning up your feed and tightening up your privacy settings. For Facebook, that means combing through your posts and photos to remove anything you think is objectionable or change who is allowed to see it. It also means changing your privacy settings to make them more restrictive. If you are on the hunt for a new job, this might be a smart practice anyway to keep prospective bosses from seeing all your escapades.

For Twitter, there are services that will delete all your old posts for you, and handy way to wipe out a history you may not want to revisit. This might be an alternative solution if you are concerned with what is in your feed, but don't necessarily want to quit cold turkey.

Whatever your decision, don't rush into it. Be deliberate and consider all your options. You may want a timeout or you may need to go off the grid. How you do it should be navigated with caution.