Facebook has come under fire after allegations of improper data handling, prompting calls for users to delete their accounts.
A #deleteFacebook hashtag is gaining traction amid concerns that the social media site has not put enough measures in place to protect users' data.
Users who want to delete their accounts can find the option to do so in Facebook's help pages, under this webpage: https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account
Clicking the "delete my account" button sends a deletion request to Facebook. This removes the user's account, making it inaccessible to other users.
This is a permanent termination of an account, and users will lose all the data they have uploaded to Facebook and will not be able to retrieve it in the future.
However, Facebook takes a few days to process the request before it takes action to delete the account, as a fail-safe for people who might change their minds.
Logging back into the account during that time cancels the deletion request, and the account stays intact.
Those who want a short reprieve from Facebook have the option of deactivating their accounts, which makes their profiles unsearchable and hidden from the social media service during the period of deactivation. Other users will not be able to see the timeline of a deactivated profile, or be able to search for that user.
The deactivation feature can be found under the settings menu, accessed from the top right of Facebook's website or its app.
It is under the "manage account" section of the "general account settings", where there is a listed option to deactivate your account.
Alternatively, users can use this direct link to deactivate their accounts: https://www.facebook.com/deactivate/
Deleting a user account permanently removes all the information you have uploaded to it, such as photos, videos and posts. Facebook friends will no longer be able to search for your account, or see anything you have posted on your account before.
Facebook offers an option to download and archive the data a user has shared on it before going ahead with deleting the account. This can be accessed through a link located at the bottom of Facebook's "general account settings", which are under the general "settings" menu.
The information includes public timeline information, posts the user has shared, messages, photos, videos and more. The backup will also include private data, such as ads the user has clicked on and the IP addresses of devices which have logged in or out of the account.
Facebook says it can take up to 90 days after an account has been deleted to purge all data from the account. But some information will remain in its databanks. The company warns that some "log records" - such as a user's search history - may remain, although stripped of personal identifiers like names.
Other information which is not stored on your account, such as previous messages you have sent to friends, will also not be deleted - which means your Facebook friends will still have access to chat logs and conversations you have had with them.