If you’re ready for a Facebook break, you have two options: deactivate or delete. Deactivating your account couldn’t be easier. On the desktop, click the drop-down menu at the top-right of your screen and select Settings. Click Security on the left, and you’ll see a “Deactivate My Account” link at the bottom. (Here’s the direct link to use while logged in.) If you’re on your mobile device, such as using Facebook for iOS, you just go to settings and you’ll see a link that says “Account Deactivate.”
Facebook doesn’t take this lightly it’ll do whatever it can to keep you around, including emotional blackmail about much your friends will miss you.
However, “Deactivation” is not the same as leaving Facebook forever. Yes, your timeline will disappear, you won’t have access to the site or your account via mobile apps, friends can’t post or contact you, and you’ll lose access to all those third-party services that use (or require) Facebook for login. But Facebook does not delete the account. Why? So you can reactivate it later.
Just in case that expected re-activation doesn’t work, you should download a copy your data on Facebook posts, photos, videos, etc. from the settings menu (under “General”).
To fully delete an account, go to the Delete My Account page. Just 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. And some of your posts and pictures may hang around for as long as 90 days after deletion, as well, though just on Facebook servers, not live on the site.
What about shutting down an account for someone else say, an under-age person (Facebook requires members be 13 or over) or someone who has passed away?
If the person is under 13, you can report the account. There’s a separate form to request removal of accounts for people who are sick, injured, or otherwise incapacitated. And if a user has passed away, Facebook will “memorialize” the page, or if you prefer, remove it, upon receiving a valid request. That might mean you provide a link to an obituary or other documentation, such as a death certificate. You can also designate a specific person to handle your account after your passing.