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How to unplug from Facebook, Twitter and Google+

The three popular social networking sites each offer ways to tune out or turn off accounts. Facebook and Twitter users can opt to take a break or deactivate. Google+ users can hide, downgrade or delete accounts.

August 07, 2011|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times
  • College students in Mumbai, India, use their smartphones. The number of active Facebook accounts in India jumped to 32 million this year, according to socialbakers.com, which tracks user data at the Palo Alto company. Facebook is the most popular social networking site on the Web with more than 750 million users.
College students in Mumbai, India, use their smartphones. The number of… (Kainaz Amaria, Bloomberg )

Reporting from San Francisco — Tired of being friended and poked on Facebook? Just not that into your followers on Twitter? Google+ making you feel less than totally happy? Here's how to unplug from three popular social networking sites.

Facebook

It's the most popular social networking site on the Web with more than 750 million users. There are three ways to tune out or turn off Facebook.

•Take a break

If there's a chance you might make up with Facebook, this is a good temporary option. Turn off email notifications, remove the Facebook app from your phone, take the website out of your bookmarks and generally cleanse your online existence of all unwanted reminders of Facebook.

How to do it: Go to "account settings" under the account menu. Select the "notifications" tab and remove the check next to the alerts you don't want to receive. The downside: Your friends may still tag you in photos, write on your wall or send you messages and, when you don't respond, may think you lack basic social skills.

•Deactivate

If you are not sure you want to quit Facebook forever, you can deactivate your account. You will disappear on Facebook immediately. People will not be able to search for you or view any of your information. But Facebook will save all of your wall posts, photos, messages and other personal information in case you have a change of heart.

How to do it: Go to "account settings" and select the "security" tab. The last option at the bottom of the page is "deactivate your account." Click on the link. Be forewarned: Like a jilted lover practiced in the art of emotional blackmail, Facebook will try to talk you out of leaving by showing you pictures of close friends who will miss you. To reactivate your account: Log in with your email address and password.

•Delete

If you want to scrub every last detail of your existence from Facebook, you can permanently delete your account.

How to do it: Unlike deactivating, deleting is not an option under account settings. Instead, click on "Help Center" from the account menu. Type "delete" into the search box. Select the option: "How do I permanently delete my account?" Scroll down to "submit your request here." Or you can type in this link: http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account.

Click on the link and you will get a message asking you to verify that you want to delete your account. Click the "submit" button. Facebook will ask for your password and will perform a security check. Facebook will not delete your account for 14 days. During that time, it will email you to verify that you are the one deleting the account, not an impersonator trying to wreak havoc on your social life.

After 14 days, all of your information will be permanently removed from Facebook. Some of your information will remain on Facebook's backup servers for as long as 90 days but will not be available to Facebook users and will not be personally identifiable. If you log into your Facebook account or log into another website using your Facebook account during the 14-day grace period, you will be asked to confirm or cancel your request to delete your account.

Insider tip: You may want to ditch Facebook, but maybe not all of your personal information. Before deleting your Facebook account, you can download your profile, wall posts, messages and more from Facebook. From "account settings," click on "download a copy of your Facebook data."

Twitter

Twitter has as many as 400 million monthly users who send out 200 million tweets a day. There are two ways to quit.

•Take a break

Not quite ready to bid farewell to all your followers? Follow the same instructions as for Facebook. Turn off email notifications (consider leaving on direct messages if you hear from anyone important that way), blot out all those pesky reminders of Twitter on your computer and phone, and take a timeout from scanning and sending 140-character messages.

How to do it: Click "settings" from the top right of your Twitter account. Click on "notifications." Uncheck the boxes for the notifications you do not want to receive and click save.

•Deactivate

The only other option is to permanently remove your profile and information from Twitter. Note that this process takes 30 days. After 30 days, there is no way to restore your account.

How to do it: Click "settings" from the menu. Click "deactivate my account" at the bottom of the page. Enter your password. Verify that you want to deactivate.

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