How to keep my Facebook account and delete all content?
That’s what I wanted to know to. I want to delete my content on Facebook while keeping my account active. Turns out, this is computationally very difficult. Unfortunately (at the time of this writing), Facebook doesn’t have a function to make this an easy one-click. There is function to either temporarily disable your Facebook account or delete your entire Facebook account. But nothing yet that would just delete all content and keep your Facebook account active.
In case you’re wondering, why would someone want to do that? In my situation, I want to use Facebook to stay in touch with people and make it easy for them to communicate with me, if this social network is their preferred channel of communication. But, I didn’t want all my personal data kept in posts and photos so that Facebook could aggregate and analyze that data to potentially use against me in undesirable and unhealthy ways, as the Facebook Papers have exposed.
At the end of 2021, I took some time to look into this (how could I delete my content but keep my account) and the information is scant or hard to find. I started doing it manually by hand, deleting one post or one photo at a time. Who’s got time for that? Then I tried the deactivate my account temporarily. I waited a day. When I reactivated, everything was still there.
Then I found an extension called Delete My Posts (available for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge) and that worked until I hit the free limit of 50 deletes. Since I was intent on deleting my content, I went ahead and paid for the very affordable $5 license. I ran that extension several more times, and it looked like it deleted some of my content, but not all of it. Had to repeat more times. (Not sure if that’s because of Facebook or because of the extension, or the two not getting along..)
Then I had a realization that it wasn’t my content so much that Facebook uses to monetize my data, per se. It was the Facebook pages that I liked and followed! That is my guess on what Facebook’s advertising algorithm uses the most to target sponsored messages and ads into my sidebar and timeline. Then again, since Facebook is running a bunch of servers and cloud computing, doing machine learning and big data, every little piece of data they know about me could and probably does get factored into profiling me for advertising, and perhaps even for behavioral research or other unstated uses that we Facebook users signed away our rights when creating an account.
After a couple weeks of intentionally reducing my digital footprint on Facebook, I don’t know if they still remember my data in their archives, or if they only use current data about me to build a profile.
Using Facebook the Way I’d Like
Two other things I did to reduce my time and attention on Facebook were: 1. unliked and unfollowed pages (previously I had over 1,000 page likes) and 2. unfollowed many of my friends to declutter my timeline. I did not want Facebook’s algorithms filtering my content and its notifications constantly pinging me for my attention.
Now my timeline isn’t so filtered with only what Facebook thinks would prompt me to react with a social action (like, share, or comment); my timeline has a shorter amount of data each day with the dozens of friends that I like keeping up with. Yes, that means much less polarizing political stuff. In so doing, I’m spending less time on Facebook and feeling less stressed out. That’s good for my mental and emotional health.
In other words, when you’re less of a pawn being influenced by social network algorithms that are designed to get you addicted, to influence you to spend more time on their platform, to distract you from being focused, to manipulate you for their stakeholder’s insatiable agenda without a healthy balance of social and corporate responsibility, then you can better manage your time and energy; be well, be healthy.