How to Quit Facebook the Right Way

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Every month millions more people around the world join Facebook, a social networking site that now counts roughly one-tenth of the global population as users, but in the U.S., where Facebook started out, the number of users is actually on the decline.

Between May and June of this year, the total number of U.S. users dropped from 155 million to 149 million, the country’s first such decline in a year, according to a report from Inside Facebook, which tracks data from the social network. That means at least 6 million Americans decided to log off Facebook for good, and probably many more than that if you consider how many new users likely signed up for the service in that time.

It’s unclear whether most of those users left because of long-held concerns over privacy, a desire to cut down on distractions or simply because they grew tired of the site for their own unique reasons. If you are considering following in their footsteps, however, know that there is a right way and a wrong way to quit Facebook.

Save Your Contacts and Photos

For many Facebook users, the site is more than just a place to post updates about your life. Facebook effectively functions as an address book and a photo gallery all-in-one. So if you do wake up one morning with a strong urge to abandon the site for good, make sure you take the time first to preserve any valuable personal information you may have on the site.

Anyone who uses Yahoo for email can transfer email addresses from Facebook friends to their Yahoo account, while those with a Gmail account can use the Friends to Gmail Web application to store the biographies, birthdays and work histories of Facebook friends, and may soon offer a way to transfer email addresses as well. In addition to those options, Firefox, the popular web browser, offers a free feature that lets users download all the content from their Facebook page – including photos - onto their hard drive for safe keeping.

Even with these options, it may still be worth taking a few hours to go through your Facebook content manually to highlight and store the items of the most importance, whether it be office contacts, meaningful pictures or messages you sent and received on the site.

Set Up Another Social Network Profile or Web Page

If you’re at the point where you no longer want to be on Facebook, chances are you’re not really in the mood to sign up for another social networking site either. But it’s arguably more important than ever before to maintain some kind of Web presence to stay in touch with acquaintances, not just for your personal life but your professional life. Facebook is a great tool for this thanks to its vast number of users, but it’s far from the only site one can use.

Career networks like LinkedIn, Betterfly and Tischen make it easy for users to create a profile page so they can connect with and be found by potential clients and co-workers. There are also countless niche social networks that cater to users of all types ranging from bakers to bookworms, that way you can continue to be part of an online community, but one whose interests more closely align with your own.

After all, just because you’ve come to dislike Facebook doesn’t mean you have to disconnect from the Internet completely.

Be Sure to Delete Your Profile Permanently

Finally, once you have firmly decided to say goodbye to Facebook, make sure you know the difference between deactivating your account and deleting it permanently.

All users have to do to deactivate their account is go their account settings and click on that option, but doing so won’t remove you completely from the site, as Facebook promises to “save your profile information” on their servers in case you want to come back. That may be good for those who just want to shed their account for a short period of time, but if you want to scrub your information from the site permanently, you’ll have to take the extra step of submitting a formal request to the network, which you can do here. Once you take that step, be sure not to log on to the site in the following two weeks, or your account will be reactivated.

—For a comprehensive credit report, visit the BankingMyWay.com Credit Center.

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