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How to Delete Online Accounts You No Longer Need

Published on 1/1/2019
For additional information  Click Here

Having too many digital accounts raises your risk of data being misused or stolen.

Here's how to clean house.

Deleting online accounts is one of the best ways to protect your data security and privacy. The less data you have stored on corporate databases scattered across the internet, the safer you are from the misuse of personal information.

To improve your data security, you don’t necessarily need to join the #deletefacebook movement, which stemmed from Facebook's privacy scandals.

A number of essentially defunct platforms, such as Myspace and Google+, have suffered data breaches that affected tens of millions of users who may not have used the platforms in years. Data breaches that compromise old accounts can lead to identity theft, says Justin Brookman, director of privacy and technology policy for Consumer Reports. And if you're no longer using a company's service, there's little reason to let it continue to store and potentially monetize your information, he adds.

When you're ready to exorcise those ghosts of internet past, you can follow the directions below for a number of once-popular services. We also include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms that you might want to quit, despite their continuing popularity. A number of platforms let you download your old data, like posts and photos, before pulling the plug. Unless specified otherwise, these instructions are for a computer browser, but the steps are usually similar on a phone or in an app.

Blogger

Founded in 1999, Blogger was one of the first free blog hosting services to reach a mass audience, with tens of millions of fan sites, recipe collections, and public journals. Google purchased the company in 2003, but you can delete your Blogger account without touching the rest of your Google data. To delete your Blogger account: Click the down arrow in the top left > Select the blog you want to delete > Settings > Other > Delete blog. You’ll have 90 days to change your mind, but you can expedite the process by clicking Permanently Delete.

Facebook

Privacy scandals at the social media giant rolled out at a steady clip throughout 2018. If you're sticking with Facebook, it's a good idea to lock down your privacy settings. But if you've had enough, there are some details to consider. For one, many people use their Facebook account to log in to other platforms, so you may need to change your credentials on outside services first. (We have more information on quitting Facebook here.) The platform says it won’t actually start the process until 30 days after you click delete, and it may take up to 90 days for your information to disappear. To delete your Facebook account: Click the down arrow in the top right > Settings > Your Facebook Information > Delete Your Account and Information > Delete Account > Type in your password to confirm > Delete Account.

Flickr

This 15-year-old photo and video hosting service used to be one of the few sites where you could store high-quality pictures for free. (The site didn't compress photo files automatically, like some other services.) However, many photographers gradually stopped using the site, especially after it said it would start imposing a limit of 1,000 photos or videos for free accounts. To delete your Flickr account: Click your profile avatar in the top right corner > Settings > Delete your Flickr account > OK - Next > Check the box to confirm you understand that all your data will be deleted > Delete My Account.

Foursquare

When Foursquare launched in 2009. its selling point was the then-novel ability to “check in” to restaurants and local businesses. Today, the company still watches where consumers go, but it has largely become a location data marketing platform focused on market research and targeted ads. Even if you don't use Foursquare these days, the company could be using you. To delete your Foursquare account: Click the down arrow in the top right > Settings > Privacy Settings > Delete your account > Delete account > Enter your password > Confirm.

Google+

Many Google+ users forgot about the social media platform for years, until news broke this fall that data could have leaked from more than 50 million accounts. Google said there was no evidence that data was actually taken, and the company is shutting the service down for consumers in 2019. However, you don't need to wait. To delete your Google+ account: Click Settings on the left hand side of the screen > Delete Your Google+ Profile > Enter your password to confirm > Check the box to confirm that you understand this will permanently erase your data > Delete.

Instagram

Facebook owns Instagram. The two platforms share consumer data for targeted advertising, and Facebook has used Instagram photos to train its facial recognition and artificial intelligence software. You can adjust your Instagram privacy settings using the mobile app, but if you want to delete your Instagram account altogether you'll need to open a web browser. To delete your Instagram account: Navigate to the Delete Your Account page > Choose a reason why you’re deleting your account > Enter your password > Permanently delete my account.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn collects and uses consumer data for targeted advertising. Check out our guide to LinkedIn privacy settings, or, if you decide to jettison your relationship with the networking site, follow the directions below. To delete your LinkedIn account: Click your profile avatar in the top right corner > Settings and privacy > Account > Closing your Linkedin account > Select a reason why you're deciding to close your account and click Next > Type in your password to confirm.

Livejournal

In the early 2000s, the blogging platform Livejournal was growing so rapidly that administrators implemented an invitation-only registration system to prevent system crashes. Livejournal has since moved to Russia, where it's owned by a company called Rambler Media. Ready to say goodbye to your overseas blog posts? Start the process now, but know that your information won’t be deleted for a full year, in accordance with Russian law. To delete your Livejournal account: Open the menu in the top right by clicking on your user name > Settings > Account > Under Status, click Change > Check the boxes for “Delete all my comments” and “Delete all community entries” > Change status to Deleted from the drop-down menu > Submit.

Myspace

Yes, Myspace is still out there. It's a great place for sifting through old high school photos, but Throwback Thursday hashtaggers aren’t the only ones interested in Myspace data. In 2016, hackers leaked the login credentials for 360 million accounts, including many that had been collecting cyberdust for years. In response, the company invalidated those accounts’ passwords, so you may need to use the Forgot Password tool if you want to delete your account. To delete your Myspace account: Click the gear icon in the bottom left > Account > Delete Account.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a popular platform for sharing visual ideas on everything from home remodeling to crafts. If you decide to delete your account, follow the steps below. Note that "deactivating" your account leaves the data on Pinterest's servers, but your information won't be visible to other users. Deleting your accounts takes additional steps. Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll need to wait 14 days before your account is actually deleted. To delete your Pinterest account: Click the icon with the three dots in the top right corner > Edit settings > Deactivate Account > Permanently close my account > Yes, send the email > Head to your email to find a confirmation message > In the confirmation email, click “Yes, close account.”

Snapchat

Snapchat exploded in popularity after launching its disappearing-photo-and-message service, and for a time it seemed to pose an existential threat to Facebook. The app is still widely used, but it has hemorrhaged a few million users in the past year. You can't delete your account from the mobile app, but the process is simple if you use a web browser. You'll need to wait 30 days before the account disappears. To delete your Snapshat account: Head to the Delete Your Account portal in a browser > Enter your username and password > Continue.

Tumblr

The microblogging platform Tumblr has always been known for its vibrant communities—and for the NSFW content that was banned starting this month. Tumblr makes it easy to delete your account, though the company says it may take time for your data to be scrubbed entirely. Note that the process won’t delete content that was reposted by other accounts. To delete your Tumblr account: Log in to Tumblr > click the person-shaped icon in the top right and choose Settings > Delete account > Enter your email address and password to confirm > Delete everything.

Twitter

Tweets have been sent from the White House, every continent, and even the International Space Station, but wherever you're logging in, it can be difficult to insulate yourself from the platform's trolls. Whether you want to turn your back on them or just cut down on your social media habit, it’s easy to delete your Twitter account. You'll have to wait 30 days for the data to disappear. To delete your Twitter account: Click your profile avatar and select Settings and privacy from the menu > From the Account tab, select Deactivate your account > Deactivate > Enter your password to confirm > Deactivate.

Whatsapp

The encrypted messaging service, which is owned by Facebook, is home to over a billion users worldwide. Immigrants and travelers have long used it to keep in touch with friends and family overseas, but it recently has been in the news for connections to ethnic violence in Myanmar and illegal pornography in India and elsewhere. Whatsapp is a phone-based platform, so you need to use your mobile device if you wish to delete your account. To delete your Whatsapp account: Click the menu button in the top right corner > Settings > Account > Delete my account > Enter your phone number to confirm > Delete my account.

YouTube

Google owns YouTube, and your Google account can double as a YouTube channel, which lets you create playlists, keep track of videos you’ve liked, and view a history of what you’ve watched and searched for. You don’t need a channel to use YouTube, though—you can delete it to limit data collection while keeping your Google account, and then get back to your favorite Ariana Grande videos in just a couple of minutes. To delete your YouTube channel: Click your person-shaped logo in the top right corner (it may also appear as the first letter of your name, or a portrait if you’ve uploaded a picture) > Settings > Advanced Settings > Delete Channel > Verify your password > I want to permanently delete my content > Check the box and click “Delete My Content” > Enter your email address to confirm.

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