I won’t try to convince you why you should remove Facebook from your life. That’s up to you to decide. My reason? Facebook’s business is my attention and I’d rather invest it in myself. If you are reading this, you already made up your mind, for whatever reason.
Instead, this is a post on how to remove Facebook from your life.
If you still use find the network valuable for some things (which I do), I’ll teach you how to spend only a few minutes per day browsing only what you want.
Step 1: Uninstall the App
It’s easy to just take out your smartphone and open Facebook when bored: waiting in line, commuting, during class. Pretty soon, opening the app turns into a bad habit and the first thing you do immediately after waking up and the last before drifting into sleep.
That’s why the first step to remove Facebook is tackling using the platform on your smartphone. A little over 95% of Facebook’s active users access the social network via mobile. Start by changing the behavior you have with the social network through your phone to eliminate most of the time you spend on it.
Remove the Facebook app to stop checking it on your phone. This step alone will cut your random browsing time by more than 90%. Out of sight, out of mind.
You can still use some Facebook features without using the main mobile app. Use Facebook’s Groups, Pages Manager, and the Messenger apps.
Uninstalling the app takes less than 1 minute and will save you hours per week. Here is a step-by-step guide if you need help. And as added bonuses: your battery will last longer and might even get to reduce your data plan and save some money along the way!
Step 2: Change Your Password
Although you removed the app, you can still access Facebook on your phone from the browser. The second step to remove Facebook is to make life harder for this one. Otherwise, you replace the habit of checking Facebook on the app to checking in on Chrome.
The trick here is to add friction to quit the bad habit: change your password to something impossible to memorize. Create a long random password that includes symbols, numbers, lower and uppercase letters, and similar characters. Do it now with one click using this password generator.
Save it to a password manager. I use LastPass, which is free and easy to use. In the free version, the app auto-completes forms on desktop, but not on mobile. This is exactly what we need. To find your password, you must log in to LastPass through the browser and search manually. An unexpected layer of friction is that their mobile website is horrible, make it a lot harder (and frustrating) to retrieve passwords. Perfect!
If you don’t want to use a password manager, you can copy the password to another place where it’s hard to retrieve it. The harder, the better. Copying it into your notes app is too easy to get it. A good alternative is a spreadsheet, since you’ll have to open the sheets app, then the correct spreadsheet and then find the password. If you want to go full ninja, write it down on a piece of paper and keep it in your room.
Change your password to something impossible to remember. Save it in a password manager or on a place with a lot of friction to retrieve it, like a spreadsheet.
But only changing the password doesn’t make a lot of difference if you’re always logged in. You’re now ready for step 3.
Step 3: Log Out After Each Session
The third step to remove Facebook from your life is to log out after each surfing session. This will add another friction point: you need to log in every time you want to browse Facebook. On desktop, you use LastPass to log in with two clicks. On mobile, you’ll have to manually retrieve your password (which I rarely do).
First, log out of all your devices. Go to the Security and Login Settings and find the “Where You’re Logged In” section. Click End Activity to log out of all your devices.
In the beginning, you’ll probably forget to log out after each session. Changing behavior is hard. Sometimes you’ll open Facebook and already be logged in. To make the habit stick, if you do find it open, first log out, and then log back in. Repeat as many times as necessary until it becomes a habit to log out after each session.
Log out after each session. If you find yourself logged in, log out and log in again to tell your brain to stick with the habit.
The reason why logging out is so effective is two-fold:
- You are telling your brain that you are ending an activity, like shutting down your computer or turning off your car
- You add a friction point to entering the dark hole, the need to enter your login credentials
Here’s what happened to me after a while: I opened Facebook and didn’t log in. I realized I was opening the website out of habit but had no intention of browsing it. And that was only possible because of the simple friction point of logging in. It gave my brain some time to process if it was what I really wanted. And most of the times, it was not.
The first three steps cut the number of times you login into Facebook to a few per day. The next ones are designed to enhance your experience when you do decide to browse it.
Step 4: Hide the Newsfeed
Now that we have kicked most of the habit of logging into Facebook, it’s time to take out of each session exactly what we want. I don’t want ads, photos of people I don’t know or political debates full of hate. I still want it for the same reason I signed up: to know about my friends.
The best approach is to default to zero and then check what you want manually. Eradicate the newsfeed completely and manually visit friends profiles or groups.
On desktop, you can use a Chrome extension called News Feed Eradicator to replace the infinite scroller with inspiring quotes. Here’s how it looks:
An alternative is Newsfeed Burner, another extension that does basically the same, minus the quotes. It also blocks YouTube and LinkedIn, so if you use those two networks a lot as well it might be a better option. Up to you to decide.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any extensions that do the trick on mobile. But there is a workaround to free yourself from the negative side of Facebook and still enjoy what you want. It takes less than 5 minutes to set up. Here’s the step by step:
- Unfollow all of your friends and pages. You’ll stay friends, but you won’t see their updates in your feed anymore. Under “News Feed Preferences,” select “Unfollow people to hide their posts” and check them all. It takes less than a minute
- The news feed will stop updating and disappear in a few days
- To see updates from friends, navigate to “Friends” and select “New Posts”. Now you’re in control of who to see and when to see them
No ads, drama, spam or noise. It’s once again a social network.
Step 5: Remove Friends & Groups
Even after unfollowing all your friends, there are people you once added as friends that you simply don’t want to know about. The same goes for groups. As our lives change, so do our friends and circles.
To unfriend people, go to your timeline and click “Friends”. Hover your mouse over the Friends button and select “Unfriend” from the drop-down menu. Repeat for the process for all the people you want to cut internet ties with.
To do the same for groups, navigate to Timeline → More → Groups. The process to remove groups is essentially the same as for friends.
Step 6: Remove Notifications
Now that you log in to Facebook less often, it will try to hook you back in, testing different ways to get your attention and time back. The most annoying of the growth hacks will be showing you a lot more notifications, like friends updates, activities nearby, and more notifications from groups.
To unsubscribe from these, you can navigate to Settings → Notifications and manually disable all the notifications you never want to see.
Go to each menu and disable all notifications you don’t need. This might take a few minutes or a full hour depending on how many groups you have and how selective you want to be. But the initial set up is worth it to not have annoying popups about stuff you don’t want/need to see.
Now every time you browse Facebook you’ll only notifications about things you truly care about.
Step 7: Go Full Nuke: Remove Facebook
All the previous steps covered ways of adding friction to using Facebook and enhancing your experience when browsing. However, if you do prefer to cut the problem at the roots and remove Facebook altogether, you have two options: deactivate or delete your account.
In the first, you can reactivate your account when you decide to use the service again. And in the latter, you blast your account into oblivion and the only way to use Facebook again is to create a new profile.
Whichever option you choose, I recommend that you download a copy of all your Facebook data first. You get a copy of everything you shared on Facebook, such as posts, photos, videos, messages and chat conversations, and a lot more.
To do this, go to Settings → General and click “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” On the next screen, click “Start My Archive”. Facebook requires that you confirm your identity to complete the download process.
Now that you have all your data, you can deactivate or delete your account.
Option #1: Deactivate Your Account
This is the soft option: it’s not breaking up, it’s just “giving it some time”. Most of your information will be hidden and you can always activate your account back when you want.
Here’s Facebook’s definition: “Deactivating your account will disable your profile and remove your name and photo from most things you’ve shared on Facebook. Some information may still be visible to others, such as your name in their friends list and messages you sent.”
To deactivate your account, click here for the direct link or go to Settings → General → Manage Account and click “Edit”.
A new menu will open. Click “Deactivate your account.” and confirm your password on the next screen.
When you are ready to reactivate your account, all you need to do is log back in.
Option #2: Delete Your Account
When you deactivate your account, Facebook only hides your information. It still saves all your settings, photos, and information in case you decide to use the service again. The only option to have everything truly removed is to delete your account permanently. Only do it if you are absolutely sure, as there is no option for recovery.
To send all your Facebook data into oblivion, go into the “Delete My Account” page and click “Delete My Account”. You’ll be prompted to enter your password and complete a captcha. Click “Okay” and you are done.
Welcome back to the real world.
The One Key Benefit of Removing Facebook
There are many benefits in reducing the time you spend on or removing Facebook. I won’t cover them, they are different for each person. I’ll just talk about mine: regaining my attention span.
Before, I was sure that I didn’t spend a lot of time browsing Facebook. Truth is, I was kidding myself.
It’s absolutely crazy the amount of time I spent per week just checking the newsfeed. A couple of minutes here and there add up really fast. All these fast hits of dopamine harm your attention span. You start craving for instant gratification, always.
Similarly how smokers breath better every week after they quit, the increase in my attention span was incremental. At first, it was hard to focus for more than a handful minutes on a task. Gradually, it became easier and I am now a lot better at doing Deep Work for a longer period of time.
When I’m bored, I never log in to Facebook on my phone. It’s just too much of a hassle to retrieve the password and the process annoys the hell out of me (Success!). Nowadays, I don’t even try. I normally read a book using the Kindle App on my phone or on the Kindle itself, if I have it with me. But most of the times I just sit, wait, and think.
Living in your head is way better than living on the internet.