SINGAPORE - 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 over concerns that the social media site has not put enough measures in place to protect users' data.
Prominent names in technology, such as WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, former Facebook executives Sean Parker and Justin Rosenstein, and investor Roger McNamee have also spoken out against the site in recent months.
Last week, reports surfaced of how information from more than 50 million profiles of North American Facebook users were accessed by a third party data company, Cambridge Analytica, and used to send targeted ads during the 2016 United States elections.
Cambridge Analytica had worked with data scientist and academic Aleksandr Kogan, from Cambridge University, to collect data for academic use.
He paid hundreds of thousands of users to take a personality test, administered through a Facebook app called thisisyourdigitallife.
However, the app also collected information of the test-takers' Facebook friends, leading to the accumulation of a data pool tens of millions strong, according to the New York Times and Britain's Observer newspaper.
While Facebook banned the app in 2015, the data collected was not destroyed, in violation of Facebook's personal data policy.
Critics also accused Facebook of not following up adequately on ensuring the data collected was destroyed.
The concern of Facebook's treatment of personal data has sparked a backlash online and on other social media platforms such as Twitter.
If you are concerned about Facebook's treatment of personal data and want to move on from the platform, here is how to do so.
1. How to delete or deactivate Facebook
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 that data in the future.
However, Facebook takes a few days to process the request before it takes action to delete the account, as a failsafe 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 account, which makes their profile unsearchable and hidden from the social media service during the period of deactivation. Other users won't 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 listed option to 'deactivate your account'.
Alternatively, users can use this direct link to deactivate their accounts: https://www.facebook.com/deactivate/
2. What happens to my personal data and information after I delete Facebook?
Deleting a user account removes all information you have uploaded to it, such as photos, videos and posts. This cannot be retrieved in the future.
Facebook friends will no longer be search for your account, nor see anything you have posted on your account before.
Facebook offers an option to download and archive the data a user has shared with 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.
However, some information will remain in Facebook's data-banks. 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.
3. Privacy on Facebook
If you still want to keep your Facebook account, but limit the amount of information you want to share, you can tweak your privacy settings to your satisfaction.
The "privacy" tab in settings lets you choose who can see your posts, photos and information. Default settings are "public" - meaning anyone on or off Facebook - or "friends", with further options to exclude certain friends from seeing your posts or even setting posts that only you can see.
The bulk of the information Facebook has of you comes from what you voluntarily upload, such as photos, videos or tagging yourself in various locations.
The less you upload or share, the less data it has on you.
However, some personal information can also come from your Facebook friends - when they tag you in a photo, for instance.
If you really do want to remain anonymous, you can edit your timeline settings under the "timeline and tagging" tab in Facebook settings.
This lets you choose who can tag you in photos and who can post on your timeline. There is also the option to review photos you are tagged in for your approval before they are posted on your account.