Do you remember when you first set up your Facebook profile? When you published your first tweet? We’d be willing to bet that you’ve changed a bit — or maybe a lot — since then. However, your past self is still floating out in the digital universe for anyone with some time and motivation to easily find.
Manually going through all of the content you’ve ever posted on any social media platform is tedious and time-consuming. So, what’s a person looking for an effective social media cleanse to do? We’ve created a guide to help you out.
Each social media app has its own internal method for helping users who want to delete some or all of their past content. There are also third-party apps out there that can assist you. We’ve analyzed each tool to help you determine the best choice for your next digital cleanse.
Post-Cambridge Analytica scandal, many Facebook users are (justifiably) concerned about their privacy on this platform. Beyond manually deleting individual posts on your account that you would rather others not see, you can opt for deactivating or deleting your account entirely.
Deactivating your account means that you can reactivate it — it still exists, but no one will be able to search you or look at your timeline. However, messages you have sent to friends will still be visible.
Deleting your account is a more serious decision — the action cannot be undone. Your account also will not be removed right away. Facebook waits a couple of days before completely removing your account, and if you log in during this time, the deletion will be canceled. And even once your account is deleted, your data — although not visible on Facebook — may remain on the platform’s backup systems for up to 90 days. Some data pulled from your personal information may even continue to remain on their database. You can also request a full archive of your profile including photos, videos, messages, and more before moving forward with deactivating.
But, if you simply want to improve the privacy of your Facebook account, you can enlist different methods:
- Go to the Apps Settings page and specifically choose those that you’re comfortable with having access to your profile information.
- Alter your settings to prevent Facebook from integrating with any app — meaning you won’t be able to log into any app using your Facebook profile.
- Limit who sees your posts to yourself, friends, friends of friends, groups or the public.
- Use the Privacy Check-Up to limit who can see your app activity, hide your personal information and more.
Similar to deactivating a Facebook account, Instagram allows you to temporarily disable your account (keep in mind, this must be done on a browser rather than the app). You can also permanently disable your account, which means you will not be able to reactivate it or activate a new account with your old username.
To make your posts private, you can go to the Privacy option in your Settings. You can also block certain users — they will not be notified that you blocked them.
Do you have a lot of followers but not much engagement to show for it? You may want to consider doing a follower-cleanse. Eliminating fake accounts, accounts that follow an excessive number of other accounts, and inactive accounts can help you improve your engagement rate. You want quality followers who are interested in actively interacting with your posts.
Looking to delete photos? If you want to eliminate a few individual posts, it’s not hard to just manually do so on the Instagram app — you can’t delete photos from a desktop. However, if there are quite a few you want to remove, this blog post suggests a pretty ingenious solution: use your desktop and apply a random, specific hashtag no one else will be using to all of the posts you want to delete. Then, use your phone to search the hashtag and delete the photos.
To delete a tweet, select the “˅” symbol on the top-right corner of the tweet and select the red delete button. However, there is no quick method for deleting a large number of tweets on the app, and Twitter only allows you to delete your last 3,200 tweets at one time.
You can deactivate your account entirely by going to your account settings. You can reactivate your account within 30 days of deactivation — if you don’t reactivate within this time, your account will be permanently removed. Twitter also allows users to download a full archive of their Twitter data but the process takes a few days.
- InstaClean is an app just for iPhones that allows you to delete all of your Instagram posts at once. Depending on how many photos you want to delete, you may need to pay for the app. You can also automatically approve all pending follow requests, and you can perform a mass unfollowing.
- Cleaner for Instagram is an app that both iPhone and Android users can download. Again, depending on how many posts you want to eliminate, you may have to pay for the app. However, this option also allows you to manage your followers and block users.
- Want to do a complete overhaul of your tweets? TweetDeleter might be for you. With the free version, you are able to delete 3,200 of your latest tweets at one time with just one click. If you select the Premium pricing option, you’ll have access to an automatic cleaning option, meaning it will either automatically remove tweets older than a specified number of days, or you can delete your oldest tweets to maintain a tweet count of your choosing. If you select the Unlimited pricing plan, you can upload your entire Twitter archive to TweetDeleter, where you can search — and if you choose, delete — all of your tweets at once.
- Jumbo is an app currently available for iPhone users (an Android version is supposedly in the works) that allows users to eliminate posts and manage their privacy. Currently, the app works for Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon’s Alexa, and the company behind the app wants to expand its workings to Instagram and Tinder in the future. Through the app, you can delete tweets on a specific timeframe (for example, any tweets older than a day, week, month or three months). Due to Twitter’s API, you can only eliminate your last 3,200 tweets at one time. For Facebook, you can choose the level of privacy you are looking for: weak, medium or strong. Then, based on your answer, Jumbo will reset all of your Facebook privacy settings (it will never make a setting less private than you had originally set it). In addition, the app can limit the amount of time that Google keeps data about your search results, and it will delete your voice recordings from Alexa.
Performing a social media cleanse isn’t just helpful for your peace of mind — it can help protect you from getting into trouble due to old posts resurfacing and being taken out of context. In a time when privacy feels like it has become a luxury rather than a right, it is important that we minimize the amount of personal data we share with the digital universe. Use these tools to your advantage to ensure that on each social media platform you are represented exactly as you want to be.