A cartoon drawing of a keyboard delete key.

Deleting online accounts is one of the best ways to protect your data security and privacy. The less data you have stored on corporate databases scattered across the internet, the safer you are from the misuse of personal information.

To improve your data security, you don’t need to stop using your favorite apps and services. Start by getting rid of accounts that you no longer care about. A number of essentially defunct platforms, such as Myspace and the recently shut down Google+, have suffered data breaches that affected tens of millions of users who may not have used the platforms in years.

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Data breaches that compromise old accounts can lead to identity theft, says Justin Brookman, director of privacy and technology policy for Consumer Reports. And if you're no longer using a company's service, there's little reason to let it continue to store and potentially monetize your information, he adds.

Unfortunately, some services hold onto your information even after you close an account, but it's still a smart move to shut down the public-facing access to your data once your relationship with a company is over.

When you're ready to exorcise those ghosts of internet past, you can follow the directions below for a number of once-popular services. We also include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms that you might want to quit, despite their continuing popularity. A number of services let you download personal information, such as posts and photos, before pulling the plug. And if you're having trouble remembering all the accounts you created, then abandoned, follow the process laid out in CR's guide to finding old accounts.

Unless specified otherwise, the instructions below are for a desktop browser, but the steps are usually similar on a phone.

Acorns

Acorns is an investment app that will round up your transactions to the nearest dollar and add the extra change to an investment portfolio. Some experts praise it as an easy way to dip your toes into investing, while others suggest the service’s fees are too high in some cases. According to an Acorns spokesperson, because the company brokers investments, it's legally required to maintain information about its clients for as long as six years in some cases. To comply with the law, the company says it doesn't erase user data even if you delete your account. However, you can "close" an account indefinitely, which will make it harder for someone to get access if your login credentials fall into the wrong hands.

To delete your Acorns account: Open the menu in the top left > Subscription > Close My Account > Yes, Continue > Select a reason why you’re closing your account > Close.

Blogger

Founded in 1999, Blogger was one of the first free blog hosting services to reach a mass audience, with tens of millions of fan sites, recipe collections, and public journals. Google purchased the company in 2003, but you can delete your Blogger account without touching the rest of your Google data.

To delete your Blogger account: Click the down arrow in the top left > Select the blog you want to delete > Settings > Other > Delete blog. You’ll have 90 days to change your mind, but you can expedite the process by clicking Permanently Delete.

Credit Karma

Credit Karma has been giving out free credit scores since 2008, and the company says it has more than 60 million members. However, all three major credit reporting agencies will provide you with a free copy of your credit report once a year as well. If you tried the app but abandoned it for other credit monitoring methods, it makes sense to delete your account.  

To delete your Credit Karma account: Open the Profile & Setting menu in the top right > Security Settings > Deactivate > Deactivate account.

Facebook

Privacy scandals at the social media giant have rolled out at a steady clip for years. If you're sticking with Facebook, it's a good idea to lock down your privacy settings. But if you've had enough, there are some details to consider. For one, many people use their Facebook account to log in to other platforms, so you may need to change your credentials on outside services first. (We have more information on quitting Facebook here.) The platform says it won’t actually start the process until 30 days after you click delete, and it may take up to 90 days for your information to disappear.

To delete your Facebook account: Click the down arrow in the top right > Settings > Your Facebook Information > Delete Your Account and Information > Delete Account > Type in your password to confirm > Delete Account.

Flickr

This 15-year-old photo and video hosting service used to be one of the few sites where you could store high-quality pictures for free. (The site didn't compress photo files automatically, like some other services.) However, many photographers gradually stopped using the site, especially after it said it would start imposing a limit of 1,000 photos or videos for free accounts. 

To delete your Flickr account: Click your profile avatar in the top right corner > Settings > Delete your Flickr account > OK - Next > Check the box to confirm you understand that all your data will be deleted > Delete My Account.

Foursquare

When Foursquare launched in 2009, its selling point was the then-novel ability to “check in” to restaurants and local businesses. Today, the company still watches where consumers go, but it has largely become a location data marketing platform focused on market research and targeted ads. Even if you don't use Foursquare these days, the company could be using you.

To delete your Foursquare account: Click the down arrow in the top right > Settings > Privacy Settings > Delete your account > Delete account > Enter your password > Confirm.

Instagram

Facebook owns Instagram. The two platforms share consumer data for targeted advertising, and Facebook has used Instagram photos to train its facial recognition and artificial intelligence software. You can adjust your Instagram privacy settings using the mobile app, but if you want to delete your Instagram account altogether you'll need to open a web browser.

To delete your Instagram account: Navigate to the Delete Your Account page > Choose a reason why you’re deleting your account > Enter your password > Permanently delete my account.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn collects and uses consumer data for targeted advertising. Check out our guide to LinkedIn privacy settings, or, if you decide to jettison your relationship with the networking site, follow the directions below.

To delete your LinkedIn account: Click your profile avatar in the top right corner > Settings and privacy > Account > Closing your Linkedin account > Select a reason why you're deciding to close your account and click Next > Type in your password to confirm.

Livejournal

In the early 2000s, the blogging platform Livejournal was growing so rapidly that administrators implemented an invitation-only registration system to prevent system crashes. Livejournal has since moved to Russia, where it's owned by a company called Rambler Media. Ready to say goodbye to your overseas blog posts? Start the process now, but know that your information won’t be deleted for a full year, in accordance with Russian law.

To delete your Livejournal account: Open the menu in the top right by clicking on your user name > Settings > Account > Under Status, click Change > Check the boxes for “Delete all my comments” and “Delete all community entries” > Change status to Deleted from the drop-down menu > Submit.

Mint

Mint is a budgeting app that helps users organize their financial lives. The app—owned by Intuit, the company that operates Quicken and TurboTax—works by linking to your bank, credit cards, and other financial accounts to automatically collect and analyze information about your spending. Read through the company’s privacy policy, though, and you’ll find the company may also be using your information for advertising and sharing it with third parties. Mint has been around for over a decade, meaning curious consumers have had years to sign up, provide the company with access to their data, and then forget all about it.

To delete your Mint account: Click settings from the menu at the top > Sign In & Security > Delete your Mint account > Yes, delete my Mint account > Enter your username and password > Delete account.

Myspace

Yes, Myspace is still out there. It's a great place for sifting through old high school photos, but Throwback Thursday hashtaggers aren’t the only ones interested in Myspace data. In 2016, hackers leaked the login credentials for 360 million accounts, including many that had been collecting cyberdust for years. In response, the company invalidated those accounts’ passwords, so you may need to use the Forgot Password tool if you want to delete your account.

To delete your Myspace account: Click the gear icon in the bottom left > Account > Delete Account.

NerdWallet

Launched in 2009, NerdWallet is a personal finance service that provides advice on everything from budgeting to mortgages. The site and its companion app can serve as a hub for your monetary life by syncing and analyzing information about your accounts, transactions, and financial holdings. NerdWallet makes it easy to "deactivate" your account, but the company says it won't actually delete your data when you do. However, closing your account will make your information harder to access if the bad guys get hold of your password, and it will sever any ties you've made between the app and your bank or other financial accounts.

To delete your NerdWallet account: Open the menu in the top right > Settings > Close My Account > Yes, Remove Account.

Personal Capital

Personal Capital is a free online money management tool that lets you keep track of your assets and make plans for your financial future by linking banking, investment, and other accounts to its platform. It may be a useful way to monitor your finances, but if you're not using the service anymore, it may not be smart to keep all that sensitive information stored in one place online, especially if the app has real-time access to your accounts.

To delete your Personal Capital account: Open the menu in the top right > Settings > Delete User Account > Enter your password > Confirm > Type the word “DELETE” > Confirm.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a popular platform for sharing visual ideas on everything from home remodeling to crafts. If you decide to delete your account, follow the steps below. Note that "deactivating" your account leaves the data on Pinterest's servers, but your information won't be visible to other users. Deleting your accounts takes additional steps. Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll need to wait 14 days before your account is actually deleted.

To delete your Pinterest account: Click the icon with the three dots in the top right corner > Edit settings > Deactivate Account > Permanently close my account > Yes, send the email > Head to your email to find a confirmation message > In the confirmation email, click “Yes, close account.”

PocketGuard

PocketGuard sets itself apart from other budgeting apps by focusing on a simple interface and short term spending limits to help users find savings and stay on track. Some reviewers praise the app for its ease of use, but suggest it may be less suited to users who need a more complex overview of their finances. Former PocketGuard users who tried out the app before moving to a more robust service may want to take the time to go back and delete their account—and their financial data along with it.

To delete your PocketGuard account: Click the gear icon in the top right > Leave PocketGuard > Enter your password to confirm > Delete Profile.

Spendee

The free budgeting service Spendee lets you link your financial accounts to track expenses and income. Like a number of other budgeting apps, Spendee processes some users’ personal information for marketing and advertising, and it’s easy to unwittingly give the company consent to do this with your data when you create an account. There are a variety of popular budgeting apps, and you may have tried more than one to find the right system for you. There's no reason to hold on to multiple accounts with similar services, though. Here's how to get rid of a Spendee account if you left yours behind.

To delete your Spendee account: Open the menu in the top right > Settings > Delete Account > Check the boxes to acknowledge you understand you’re deleting your account > Delete Account > Check for a confirmation email with a link to completes the process.

Snapchat

Snapchat exploded in popularity after launching its disappearing-photo-and-message service, and for a time it seemed to pose an existential threat to Facebook. The app is still widely used, but it has hemorrhaged a few million users in the past year. You can't delete your account from the mobile app, but the process is simple if you use a web browser. You'll need to wait 30 days before the account disappears.

To delete your Snapchat account: Head to the Delete Your Account portal in a browser > Enter your username and password > Continue.

Tumblr

The microblogging platform Tumblr has always been known for its vibrant communities—and for the NSFW content that was banned starting December, 2018. Tumblr makes it easy to delete your account, though the company says it may take time for your data to be scrubbed entirely. Note that the process won’t delete content that was reposted by other users.

To delete your Tumblr account: Log in to Tumblr > Click the person-shaped icon in the top right and choose Settings > Delete account > Enter your email address and password to confirm > Delete everything.

Twitter

Tweets have been sent from the White House, every continent, and even the International Space Station, but wherever you're logging in, it can be difficult to insulate yourself from the platform's trolls. Whether you want to turn your back on them or just cut down on your social media habit, it’s easy to delete your Twitter account. You'll have to wait 30 days for the data to disappear.

To delete your Twitter account: Click your profile avatar and select Settings and privacy from the menu > From the Account tab, select Deactivate your account > Deactivate > Enter your password to confirm > Deactivate.

Wally

Wally is one of a number of personal finance apps launched in the mid-to-late 2000s that will sync with your bank accounts to help keep track of your spending. While the company has enjoyed some success, competitors like Mint are now far more popular. You can’t log in to Wally using a computer, and there’s no "delete" button in the Wally Lite app. However, it's easy to delete your account on a smartphone if you download the Wally Next app and log in there.  

To delete your Wally account: Open the Wally Next app > Click the icon in the bottom right > Settings > Delete Account > Delete. 

Whatsapp

The encrypted messaging service, which is owned by Facebook, is home to over a billion users worldwide. Immigrants and travelers have long used it to keep in touch with friends and family overseas, but it recently has been in the news for connections to ethnic violence in Myanmar and illegal pornography in India and elsewhere. Whatsapp is a phone-based platform, so you need to use your mobile device if you want to delete your account.

To delete your Whatsapp account: Click the menu button in the top right corner > Settings > Account > Delete my account > Enter your phone number to confirm > Delete my account. 

You Need A Budget

You Need A Budget, which debuted in 2004, has long been one of the most popular personal finance apps. For a monthly or yearly fee, the app aims to help categorize your transactions and find new areas to save. Budgeting is important, but if you signed up for the service at some point over the last 15 years and then moved on to another method, you may have left some highly sensitive information sitting on corporate servers—and if you aren't keeping an eye on your budget, you might still be getting charged, too.

To delete your You Need A Budget account: Open the “Your Budget” menu near the top left > My Account > Delete Account > Enter your password to confirm.

YouTube

Google owns YouTube, and your Google account can double as a YouTube channel, which lets you create playlists, keep track of videos you’ve liked, and view a history of what you’ve watched and searched for. You don’t need a channel to use YouTube, though—you can delete it to limit data collection while keeping your Google account, and then get back to your favorite Ariana Grande videos in just a couple of minutes.

To delete your YouTube channel: Click your person-shaped logo in the top right corner (it may also appear as the first letter of your name, or a portrait if you’ve uploaded a picture) > Settings > Advanced Settings > Delete Channel > Verify your password > I want to permanently delete my content > Check the box and click “Delete My Content” > Enter your email address to confirm.


Protecting Your Online Privacy

It doesn't matter if you're on your phone or your laptop, your personal information can leave a digital trail of where you go online. On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports' expert Thomas Germain explains to host Jack Rico what to do to protect your online privacy.