The phrase "I wish I could quit you" takes on a whole new meaning when you want out of a relationship with an internet service. Sure, you once thought you and Facebook or Amazon or Netflix would be together forever, but terms of service change, end-user license agreements mature, and, well, you're just not in the same digital place anymore.
Sadly, not all websites and social networks and online retailers are created equal when it comes to breaking up. With some, it takes only a couple of clicks to say goodbye. For a few sites, if you stop paying for the service, the site cuts ties fairly quickly. Others make you jump through more hoops. Even after you follow all the required steps, some sites never quite leave you alone, with vestiges of your relationship around forever.
No matter what you call it—deleting, canceling, removing—when you want to be rid of an online account, many sites don't make it easy. You don't want to rush into a breakup, but if you're ready, we've compiled the links, tips, and—in the most extreme cases—the phone numbers you need to sever ties. (And let's be clear, there's a difference between deleting an account and just deactivating it. We'll spell out the differences for each account, as needed.) Also, sometimes legality prevents a service from deleting everything you've posted publicly in the past, so remnants of your time there could remain in perpetuity.
This list includes the big-name sites most people use. If you're looking for a site that's not on our list, check out AccountKiller.com and JustDelete.me. Each serves the same purpose—to let you know which sites and services make it easy to leave, which make it difficult, and which make it damn-near impossible.
Facebook The mac-daddy of social networking, Facebook had 1.86 billion monthly active users as of late 2016, almost double what it had in 2012, so it probably doesn't miss the few who decide to delete or deactivate accounts. But before you give Zuckerberg and Co. the old heave-ho, keep in mind that Facebook has become an almost-de-facto log-in option for many online services, retailers, and media outlets. Some even require you to use Facebook. So killing a Facebook account could lock you out of more than just one social network, which makes some people very cranky.
If you're ready to cut ties, the link to deactivate is in your account settings, found under Security, but here's a direct link to use while logged in. You can find it on the desktop or the mobile apps. Facebook will try to convince you to stay by showing you photos of the friends who will presumably miss your online presence. If you forge ahead through your veil of tears, Facebook will ask you to specify why you're leaving, then opt-out of future emails, agree to delete any apps or pages you've developed, and hit confirm.
This effectively puts your account to sleep. Facebook will leave you alone, but there's the option to reactivate.
To fully delete an account, go to the Delete My Account page. Be aware that, per the Facebook data use policy, "after you remove information from your profile or delete your account, copies of that information may remain viewable elsewhere to the extent it has been shared with others, it was otherwise distributed pursuant to your privacy settings, or it was copied or stored by other users." Translation: if you wrote a comment on a friend's status update or photo, it will remain even after you delete your own profile.
For more details, read How to Delete Your Facebook Account.
Twitter Tweets are a breeze to obliterate. Visit Twitter's "account settings" page from a desktop web browser (you can't do it via mobile) and you can deactivate your account with the link at the bottom. Enter your password when requested. That's it. After 30 days—the grace period for you to return—the account and data is deleted. If all else fails, call 415-222-9670.
Note that Vine, the hobbled six-second video-sharing service owned by Twitter, is also matched to your Twitter account, so deleting Twitter deletes your Vine. Visit your Vine settings on the desktop to click the Delete Account link, or email [email protected] directly to get it "permanently suspended." Do it before you delete Twitter, or be sure to add an email to your Vine account, or they may not be able to match you do the email address.
Google (and YouTube) Google is big. The company has so many services—an office suite and storage via Google Drive, email via Gmail, blogging with Blogger, apps and media via the Google Play store, advertising via AdSense, video sharing via YouTube, maps, Hangouts, Google Photos, a sad play at a social network...it's endless.
Deleting all of them in one fell swoop is actually quite easy. Use the Delete Google Account link. That's all it takes to walk away entirely (and lose all those files, emails, videos, etc., so download them first ) You get a small grace period to reinstate the account from the Google password assistance page, but the window is not long.
This is the only way to get rid of some accounts within Google. For example, there's no way to completely delete a Blogger account (only individual blogs under it) without this nuclear option.
One exception:YouTubecan be deleted separately. Go to your YouTube Account Overviewpage, and under your name/email click Advanced. What you get here is the option to delete your YouTube channel—it won't kill the required Google account. But it will obliterate all the videos on the channel, including videos you may have purchased! You'll be given an option to do that, or just hide the channel instead. Hiding has granular options like deleting comments you've made. That's a tool more people should take advantage of.
RememberGoogle+? You might have a profile to get rid of. Click Delete your Google+ profile and sign in to do just that. It will not delete a YouTube channel associated with the profile. Naturally, "some data will be kept, and some data will be deleted or converted," according to Google.
LinkedIn It could be argued that LinkedIn is the most useful social network around, especially for job networking. That doesn't mean you won't want to cancel. In fact, LinkedIn specifically suggests that if you have multiple accounts, you should close all but one to consolidate.
To close an account, log in via a desktop browser and click the thumbnail pic in the upper right to access Account: Settings & Privacy. It'll take you to this page. Look for a link called "Closing your LinkedIn Account" under Subscriptions. Give a reason you're leaving—most sites want to know what they can improve, or did wrong— and then click Continue.
You have 20 days to reinstate your account, if you regret the deletion decision. (Certain info, like endorsements and followings, are lost for good). Contact Customer Service and confirm your email address to do so. LinkedIn provides a link to contact them on the bottom of every page or call 650-687-3555.
Microsoft Your Microsoft account has previously gone by other names, such as Windows Live ID, MSN log-in, .NET Passport, etc. Sticking with branding is not a strong suit in Redmond. For now at least, your master Microsoft account signs in to everything Microsofty, from Outlook.com and Skype to Xbox Live and Microsoft Office 365 ($99.99 at Dell) subscriptions.
How you access your account depends on what site or service you enter, but there is a close account page. Microsoft promise that it "deletes all the data associated" if you do so—but that takes 60 days, during which time you can reopen it, if you still have the account security info.
It won't be that simple for most people, however. You can't delete the account until you've canceled any premium (paid) services or subscriptions you have with Microsoft Commerce while logged in. Plus, Microsoft lists other things you should do first, like use up your Skype credit and reset your automatic replies on Outlook.com. Got more serious problems? Call 800-MICROSOFT.
Skype It used to be impossible to kill a Skype account, but you can reportedly now do it via an online chat with Skype representatives. It's only possible if you're logged into the Skype.com site, so they can tell it's you. They'll still ask for proof by asking you to identify at least five contacts in your Skype account, plus the email you used to sign up. After that, they'll shut it down for you. (This only works for Skype IDs, not if you use your Microsoft ID to log into Skype.)
Snapchat Simply deleting the app from your phone doesn't do the trick. There also isn't a way to delete your account from within the app. But all is not lost. On the Web, go to Snapchat's Delete Your Account page and log in. You're going to have to prove you're not a robot with a Captcha and then re-enter your password on the next page. Then you just click Delete My Account and your long, sordid (or probably not-so-sordid) history with Snapchat is over.
AOL/AIM It used to be a running joke how hard it was to cancel an AOL account. That company hung on to customers as tightly as Scrooge with a ha'penny. Users had to call, fax, and threaten lawsuits to be cut loose. (That torch has been passed on to Comcast.) Now, whether you've got a free or paid account, it's relatively simple to get free of the former "America Online."
If you've got a paid account, first cancel your billing to convert it to free. Once you do that, visit AOL Help, click the My Account link (under the icon at upper right); on the next page, click Manage My Subscriptions . You'll see a Cancel link under the type of AOL subscription you have. Even if it's just an AIM account used for instant messaging, you can delete it with a click and a confirmation.
This is definitely worth doing if you don't use AOL, and check for your family members as well—as little as two years ago, there were reportedly still as many as 2.15 million people still paying AOL for dial-up internet access; a lot of them probably didn't even know it.
Yahoo and Flickr When you delete your Yahoo account, you're signing out permanently from a number of services: Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Groups, Flickr, etc. There is a magic page for deleting a user account, which will spell out what your Yahoo ID deletion does; it may take up to 90 days for full deletion to go through. You'll need to enter your password and a CAPTCHA code to go through with it.
Note again, killing your Yahoo account kills yourFlickraccount. But you can delete Flickr separately and leave Yahoo intact via Flickr's Profile Deletion page.
Tumblr Yahoo bought Tumblr, but the blog site has its own login. You can delete your blog (or blogs) without killing the account, of course, using the Account Manager. Killing your entire Tumblr account is done at the account deletion page.
Reddit Reddit users have it easy when it comes to account deletion, which makes sense for such a tech-savvy location. Just surf to Preferences > Deletion while signed in to take care of it.
Evernote Evernote is an easy-to-use repository for anything and everything you'd want to store while you're online. Getting rid of your data and account isn't as easy. First, log in and delete every single thing you stored there—and delete the trash, too, as those items are not automatically erased. Then go to the Deactivate Action page. Note that it's not a true deletion, but it does prevent you from ever accessing Evernote with that same email address ever again. (You can change your email address easily enough under settings; don't use the nuclear option for that.)
Pinterest This is another site where you can deactivate the account to stop using it, but can't actually delete it. Once you disable things, the boards and everything you pinned are no longer available and the account is unlinked from services like Facebook and Twitter. But the username and email on the account remain in place, so change the account email address first if you want to set up a new Pinterest account later. To deactivate, click your name while logged in, go to Settings, and you'll find the Deactivate Account button in the bottom the Account Basics section.
AncestryYou used to be stuck with Ancestry forever. Now you can go to Your Account > Cancel Subscription (you'll only see it if you have a paid subscription). You can change a subscription type or just go through with cancellation here. But you're never fully deleted: by going to a free account, you've got a forever-guest account at Ancestry, so you can still use things like message boards and access family trees you've created.
Amazon Closing your account at Amazon means no longer having access to Wish Lists or Associate Accounts or any other associated content—like videos. The cancellation is not necessary if all you want to do is change your email or credit card on the account. You can do either of those under the Your Account link, which you'll find in the upper right-hand corner of any Amazon page.
To actually delete an account altogether, make sure you have no orders outstanding. Go directly to the Email Amazon.com Customer Service link. Write a brief note to Amazon telling them why you want out, and send it off. You can also call 866-216-1072 (206-266-2992 for international customers) to follow up if the account appears live after you close it.
Audible.com Amazon's arm for audiobooks has an Account Details linkon every page (just click your name at the top when signed in). Go there and look for the Cancel my Membershiplink.
Canceling means saying buh-bye to any accumulated credits on your account. However, you can still get access to your library of audiobooks to re-download, if needed. Obviously, this is more of a "deactivation" than a "deletion." If the cancellation doesn't work, call them. Try 888-283-5051 or 973-820-0400 outside the US and Canada.
Zappos This online shoe (and more) store, another subsidiary of Amazon, is well-known for an interesting corporate culture, but not for letting go of customers. There's no link or even an FAQ section about how to break free. You can, however, call customer service at 800-927-7671 any time, 24/7, to get someone to help you with that. Or, start an online chat session at the site and request the account deletion that way.
Apple Apple ties every interaction you make with the company—computers purchased on Apple.com, entertainment bought on iTunes, apps downloaded, iBooks and Apple Music and iTunes purchases, etc.—to your Apple ID.
Getting rid of an Apple ID is next to impossible. If you make a mistake and create an account you don't want, it can't be merged with another account. There are reports that you can call customer service at 800-275-2273 and ask for an account to be deleted, but don't count on it unless you can supply a certificate showing the customer is deceased.
Here's what you can do: make sure no credit cards or "trusted devices" are associated with the account by visiting the Apple ID sign-in page. You should also "delete" your Apple ID from your Mac or iOS devices (instructions here) if you no longer want to use it. That'll help, but your existing Apple ID will always exist on the servers in Cupertino.
One big reason to notdeactivate your Apple ID is Digital Rights Management. Music and video and ebooks are tied to your account via DRM to protect the copyright. But you'll be the one getting punished if you mess with the DRM and can't access your media anymore just because you messed with your account.
If you need help, 800-APL-CARE is the basic Apple Care tech support line.
eBay/PayPal Killing an eBay account means never going back—at least, not with the same email address or user ID. Which could be a handy thing for those accumulating bad feedback. Cancellation is not immediate; you get 180 days to finalize any transactions. If you change your mind during that time, you can reactivate the account. EBay holds on to records about you even after shuttering your account, "to comply with laws, prevent fraud, collect any fees owed, resolve disputes, troubleshoot problems, assist with any investigations, enforce our eBay User Agreement, and take other actions as permitted by law."
To close an eBay or PayPal account altogether, visit the Close Your Account page. You'll have to sign in, of course. You get a choice to shut down the whole account, a seller account, an eBay store, or just your PayPal account. Follow the instructions for whichever you choose.
EBay has a few toll-free numbers you can call: 888-749-3229, 800-322-3229, and 800-322-9266, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Pacific. Press 2 to get customer support. The recording will try to get you to use Live Customer support online.
Rakuten (Buy.com) Tokyo-based Rakuten bought Buy.com years ago to give it a better chance to compete globally. Your old Buy.com sign-in still works, even if you haven't shopped there in a while. If you want to delete that account, new or old, there's no link to make it happen. You'll have to hit the customer service contact form and send a request for deletion. Just know it will keep a record of all your old purchases, and thus some personally identifiable info, in perpetuity.
JetThe latest online mega-retailer was acquired by Walmart in 2016 but operates separately from its mega-owner. There are a couple of ways to get in contact: 1-855-JETHEADS or [email protected] Either one is your only path to deletion.
Netflix When we first did this story, it seemed Netflix knew well that if you cancel something, you want it done in real time, offering up links to "Cancel Streaming plan" or "Cancel DVD plan" on your accounts page. That's no longer the case. There is, however, a direct link to a Cancel Your Membership? Page to stop getting billed.
This is, of course, nothing more than a deactivation—Netflix isn't about to give up all the info you've fed it, like movie ratings to be used in recommendations. The service does claim it only keeps the info (including your DVD queue) for 10 months. You can always delete your reviews one at a time yourself, however. At best, you can anonymize your account
If you need to call, try 866-716-0414, a call center that's open 24/7. Visit the Help Center while logged in and click the Call Us link to get a six-digit service code Netflix will utilize to know who you are when you call.
Spotify The streaming media darling has an accounts pagethat lets you sign out of Spotify on all your devices, which is handy if you share your account with others.
If you only want to stop paying for Spotify Premium, but keep the free version, go to Accounts > Subscription to cancel it. You must do that first to close out of Spotify altogether. If you made the mistake of subscribing to Spotify using the app on your iPhone—where they charge you an extra $3/month to pay off Apple's 30 percent fee for in-app purchase—you have to follow Apple's special unsub instructions.
To leave Spotify forever, visit Close My Account link. Be signed in when you access the link, click the button, and you're done. You can also email [email protected] with your log-in info, date of birth, and postal code to get them to do it for you.
Rotten Tomatoes Flixster's site for rating movies provides an entire page of info on how to cancel out of Rotten Tomatoes. That's because you might have signed up with a Flixster account, or using your Facebook log-in. Ultimately, you have to fill out the Customer Support formto make the full request. .
Hulu Hulu has a dedicated cancellation page for those who no longer want a paid subscription. You need to be signed in and accessing the main profile to see it, and even then must re-enter your password. Before you cancel your subscription, it'll ask you for your reasons.
You can also visit your Account page and click the "Cancel Subscription" button to follow a few more steps that will take care of it. If you don't want to cancel it altogether, just put Hulu on hold for as many as 12 weeks.
Note that these steps simply turn a paid Hulu subscription into a free version. After that, use the user delete link to get rid of the account entirely.
PlayStation Network If you want to leave Sony's game network behind, the best you can do is call Sony Customer Service at 1-800-345-SONY to deactivate an account, but you won't be able to use that login or username again.
IMDb Pro Yes, you can have a paid account at the world's best database of movie and TV info (which is owned by Amazon). If you don't want it anymore, there's a straight up Delete Account page that will take care of that.
Steam It's not entirely clear on how to get rid of a Steam account—it's certainly not easy. Your best bet: delete all games and info associated with the account and wait. After a while, maybe months, maybe years, Steam will deactivate it due to inactivity.
eHarmony If you paid recently for eHarmony and want a refund of some money, call them at 877-904-4810, Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time (or 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Saturdays). If you don't want or expect a refund, quit the service by accessing your membership page on the site and selecting My Settings > Account Settings > Subscription Status and click either "Cancel My Subscription" (so you don't pay anymore, but your matches stay accessible) or "Close Account."
Match.com If you're trying Match.com's free trial and don't want to continue, you can resign your subscription. Go to your Account Settings and select the Change/Cancel Membership page. If you're a paid member and don't want to renew, hit the same page. You can still sign in until the end of your subscription term, however. Once you've found a new love, just make sure to hide that profile. You can't really delete it forever. Match.com keeps your data in storage even if it's not accessible to others "for historical and legal purposes only."
PlentyOfFish Straight to the point, PlentyOfFish lets you stop casting a net permanently when you visit the Delete account page. The site might delete you itself if you misbehave.
OKCupid The deletion of an OKCupid account is easy. Visit your account page to just disable the account, so your profile is inactive and all communication from OKCupid ceases, or do a "full" delete so that the info is permanently and irreversibly dumped. All, that is, except the username. That is never freed up again, so no one else can use it to make a new account and pretend they're you.
Zoosk If you signed up for Zoosk but want out, go to your Zoosk Settings page. Click on the "Cancel Subscription" link, but that won't totally deactivate the account yet. Sign in one last time, and then visit the account deactivation link. If you use the Zoosk app on a social network like Facebook, removing it doesn't cancel your subscription or your account, you have to go to the main site at Zoosk.com.
Ashley Madison Ashley Madison, the site for those seeking extra-marital activities, sometimes on the DL, got a lot of press a couple of years ago when it got hacked. And a lot of people wished they'd had deleted their account long before that (though chances are, the data was still in their system to be hacked even if the user opted out before). If you're ready to leave AM right now, log in (the account profile has to be complete), go to Account Settings > My Account and you'll see the delete/deactivate option. Supposedly you can send an email to [email protected] with subject line "REQUEST TO DELETE MY ACCOUNT." Send it from the email address registered on the site for it to work.
Tinder Remember, deleting the app from your phone does NOT delete the account. Open up the mobile app on your iPhone or Android Device. Log in and go to App Settings to find the Delete Account button at the bottom. Tap it then confirm. The data and matches are wiped. Since Tinder uses your Facebook login, you should also on Facebook and delete Tinder's access. Look under Settings > Apps and search for Tinder directly, or pull up the whole list of programs and sites using your Facebook login. Click the pencil icon to edit Tinder, and select Remove App at the bottom of the popup window.
There are a startling number of services and publications online that do not let you delete an account, period. They generally state it up front in the Terms of service (ToS)—you know, the text that no one ever reads. If you suddenly decide to reclaim your privacy and want to obliterate yourself from the following services, well, you're SOL. Note that most of these companies keep this information for legal and regulatory reasons. The rest are just not that into helping you.
Starbucks—While it has no facility for deleting an account entirely, you can email [email protected] and ask them—reportedly they'll offer to scramble your data so it's useless to them, you, and data trolling bots.
Walmart—You don't need an account to shop at Walmart in the real world or online. However, if you do sign up for an account—it makes returns easier, if nothing else—it's never going away. You can try calling 800-966-6546, then dialing 238 to get a real person.
Wikipedia—Wikipedia wants attribution on changes to its millions of articles, so it doesn't allow a username to be deleted. It can, however, be changed.
WordPress.com—You can't delete an account, but you can delete the individual blogs associated with it. It suggests simply leaving the account inactive if you don't want it anymore.
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