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For social media, breaking up is hard to do

NEW YORK TIMES

NEW YORK TIMES

Trying to end your relationship with some prominent online services can be like breaking up with an overly attached romantic partner — they make it pretty hard to say goodbye. But it can be done. Here's how.

FACEBOOK

To quit entirely, log on to your account and go to https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account. After hitting the Delete My Account box, you'll be asked to enter your password.

If you want to download a copy of your photos, posts and messages before leaving the service, you can do that from the account settings page, which can be quickly reached by clicking on that little round gear icon at the top right of the Facebook home page.

Facebook gives you 14 days to change your mind before your account is permanently deleted. The company knows it has hooked hundreds of millions of users, many of whom won't be able to stay away and will come crawling back.

The site will also let you take a temporary break from the relationship by letting you deactivate your account.

GOOGLE PLUS

Google tries to entangle you in multiple, distinct services like Google Plus, Gmail and YouTube — all connected. And it can track your activity across all of them and show you ads.

But the company doesn't hassle you before letting you leave. To delete your Google Plus social network profile, log in and hit the gear icon, which is directly to the right of the View Profile As tab. From there, choose Settings and scroll all the way down the page, where you should see a Disable Google+ tab that gives you the option to delete just Google Plus content or your entire Google profile.

It's important to note what does and does not get deleted if you drop Google Plus alone. Circles, Plus 1's, posts, comments and third-party app activity will all be gone. Photos won't be deleted; you have to remove them through Picasa Web Albums if you want them gone. Your chat buddies and communities are also kept intact.

Alternatively, you can hide elements of your profile. Go to the About tab on your profile, and hit the blue Edit link to change what others can see.

AMAZON

Amazon has created one of the most difficult opt-out procedures of the major sites. To close shop, you have to go to www.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-us/account-assistance.html. Then you have to select Something Else in Section 1, and Account Settings then Close My Account from the drop-down choices in Section 2. In Section 3, you'll see email, phone and chat contact options. Before going through all that rigmarole, it's best to first remove your credit card information to guard your privacy. Go to the Your Account Page, click Manage Payment Options located under Payment Methods, and delete the information on file.

LINKEDIN

Though LinkedIn makes it easy to close your account, the company reserves the right to use your data for marketing and other purposes — closed account or not.

To terminate, log in to the home page, select the Settings tab located in the drop-down menu under your name in the upper right of the screen. Next hit Account, followed by the Close Your Account link.

For privacy reasons, it's a good idea to remove all third-party applications first. To do that, click on Groups, Companies & Applications located above the Account box, hit the View Your Applications link, check the apps you want removed and hit Remove.

MYSPACE

Like many people, you may have had a youthful dalliance with this once-popular social network. But even if you moved on long ago, Myspace didn't.

To cut ties once and for all, it's easiest if you remember your password and have access to the email address that you used when signing up. If so, head over to the My Stuff tab, choose Account Settings from the dropdown menu, and select Cancel Account under Account Settings & Privacy. You will receive an email from Myspace asking you to confirm your request.

If you can't log in to that old email account, don't worry: Myspace will let you close the account after you prove your identity by completing a declaration form at http://myspace.desk.com/customer/widget/emails/new.

TWITTER

Hit the gear button on the home page, scroll down to Settings, then hit the Email Notifications tab and choose which of the 16 or more types of email from Twitter that you no longer want to receive.

If you want to leave the social network altogether, go back to the Settings page, scroll all the way down to the bottom, and click on the tiny Deactivate My Account link on the bottom. Hit the blue Deactivate box and enter your password.

Get help

The websites Delete Your Account (www.deleteyouraccount.com) and AccountKiller (www.accountkiller.com) have compiled extensive deletion information for many sites.

For social media, breaking up is hard to do 04/28/13 [Last modified: Sunday, April 28, 2013 5:50pm]
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