Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
Most people, especially those of the generations that grew up with social media, have a digital past they’d rather erase. Think Myspace (your “Top 8” is likely not the same now), Tumblr accounts (including all of the emo song lyrics you reblogged after that high school breakup), or embarrassing old Facebook photos (like the ones from wild college parties).
If you’ve outgrown your old social media accounts, you may feel like it’s time to delete them. However, you might have some pictures or posts that you want to keep, like the photo of you and your teammates winning that soccer championship, or the honest poem you wrote on your Tumblr that earned thousands of notes. If you aren’t ready to sacrifice those memories, you can save information from your old accounts before deleting them for good.
If you want to download your data before obliterating that ancient or irrelevant account, this post from LifeHacker explains how to do it on some of the most popular social media sites.
If you’re ready to finally delete that old blog but don’t want to part with the content, click “Back Up Content” (Settings > Other) to create an .XML archive of your posts. Then, click “Delete blog” on the same page.
Facebook has an option to download all (or some) of your data under the Settings tab, “Your Facebook information.” You can choose specific post, photos, and videos to download, as well as the quality and file size of each. When you’re ready, click “Delete Your Account and Information.”
Save those old public photos to your hard drive before taking them off the internet. Head to your Account Settings page and select “Request My Flickr Data.” You can also download individual photos and albums by clicking the “download” icon you see when you’re in that album. The option to delete the account is also in Account Settings.
Although Instagram is a primarily mobile-based platform, you can log in through your web browser and go into “Privacy & Security” by clicking the gear icon. There, you’ll find an option called “Data Download.” Click “Request download” to pull all your posts into an archive file. Then, visit Instagram’s “Delete your account” page to deactivate your profile.
If you’re ready to exit the world of Notes and Reblogs, you can click the “Export” button in your Tumblr “Account Settings” page. The “Delete account” button is right next to it.
On Twitter’s “Account” page, you’ll find an option to “Request your archive.” This will pull every single one of your tweets for posterity. Below that button, you can click “Deactivate your account” once your archive is downloaded.
For any social media account you decide to keep, you can always adjust your privacy settings to keep your personal information away from prying eyes. Regardless of who can (or can’t) view your profile content, you should always be careful what you post. It’s best to avoid sharing anything online that you wouldn’t want going viral — you never know who might take a screenshot and share it with the world.
Not sure if you have some old, forgotten accounts lurking on the internet? You can run a self-background check on BeenVerified to uncover those (deeply) buried social media profiles and log back in to delete them.