An Extremely Comprehensive Guide To Deleting Snapchat

An expert and people who’ve done it share what you should know.

by Kaitlyn Wylde
A woman tries to delete her snapchat account on her phone.
StefaNikolic/E+/Getty Images

It was eating cold steak that made Gabbi, 26, a case manager in healthcare IT, realize it was time to delete her Snapchat. “My friends wouldn’t even let us touch our food ‘til everyone got good pics of it. I want to care less about what I post and enjoy life more,” she says. Gabbi got rid of the app last week; since then, she says she’s already missing out on the tea her friends are spilling. She’s pretty sure she’ll be back, she says, but is enjoying time offline for now.

Like all of the retail and real estate newsletters you never meant to end up on in the first place, permanently opting out of social media platforms tends to be an intentionally dizzying effort. Snapchat is no exception. While you can log out or delete the app from your home screen, in order to disable your account and get rid of your discoverable content, you have to go to the accounts portal, a mysterious place where you can learn about your data, your privacy, and maybe figure out how to delete your Snapchat account.

Why Would You Want To Delete Your Snapchat Account, Anyway?

Gabbi decided to take a break from the platform after reflecting on her own behavior on the app. “Recently I’ve felt as though I’m trying to keep up this false narrative on [Snap]. I caught myself posting happy hours and books I’m reading to try and make my life look a lot better than it is,” she tells Bustle. Gabbi also says the platform also become a place where she wound up constantly comparing herself to others. “I felt like it was time to step back and actually work on my life rather than posting the life I want.”

What’s more, she was not a fan of how her friends would Snap each other in lieu of direct contact. “I’m 26 and if somebody wants to connect with me, I much prefer a text message or a phone call. People would hit me up on Snapchat and I hated that — I felt too old to be communicating that way.”

Brittany, 32, a baker, similarly feels too old for Snapchat. “I feel like everyone on there is younger than me and my friends and I just outgrew the platform itself.” According to a 2020 Statista survey, 48% of Snapchat users reported being in the 15-25 age range, while only 30% are in the 26-35 age range.

This past year saw plenty of people reconsidering their social media usage, too. According to Statista, over 34% of Snapchat users thought about quitting the app in 2020. “I think it’s a fun app, but that’s also kind of why I deleted it — this past year hasn’t left me with much to want to share there,” Rebecca, 33, a marketing director, tells Bustle. “In the beginning of the pandemic, [my friends and I] sent wine-cheersing Snaps to each other from our respective couches, trying to make the most of quarantine, but that fizzled — I think it’s easier to share less celebratory content on other apps,” she says.

What Happens If I Delete My Snapchat Data?

The whole point of Snapchat — where pictures disappear after you view them — is that it’s fundamentally delete-friendly, right? Snaps are permanently deleted after they’re opened; ditto Stories after 24 hours have passed. Only, the app records a lot of data from your interactions, like who you Snapped, what filter you used, where you were when you sent it, what time the recipient opened it, how often you talk to them, information about your device, and more. This info is recorded and logged — even after a Snap expires, the data associated with it remains.

If you’re not concerned about your data, but wondering why you should be, cybersecurity expert Kristina Podnar says that when you sign up with a social media platform you give away a lot of details about yourself. And while might be “safe” in the app — Snapchat says they only use your data to improve user experience and help guide advertisers to matching you with relevant ads — no app is completely protected from hacks. Further, while data is de-identified, meaning your data is made anonymous, “theoretically all data can be re-identified by a machine,” Podnar says. That means your identity can be reattached to your data just as easily as it was concealed. Stopping your data from floating around in cyberspace is a good reason you’d want to delete your Snapchat account (as opposed to simply deleting the app from your phone).

Still, Podnar notes that social media companies do keep backups of data in case it's needed for legal concerns, like if a crime was committed, and law enforcement needs to refer back to your data or that of people you interacted with. Snapchat affirms this in its privacy policy, saying, ”we may need to suspend those deletion practices if we receive valid legal process asking us to preserve content, if we receive reports of abuse or other Terms of Service violations, or if your account or content created by you is flagged by others or our systems for abuse or other Terms of Service violations."

How To Delete Your Snapchat Account For Good

Deleting your Snapchat account is less intuitive than you’d think. It’s not an option within the app’s main Settings page: When you search Snapchat’s support pages to delete your account, the account deletion page greets you with a plea to stay. It will ask if you’re having trouble with your account, if there’s anything they can do to help, and then say that if you must go, they’re really sorry to see it. (Guilt trip much?)

In fact, the process of deleting your Snapchat account is so labyrinthine that both Brittany and Rebecca realized they hadn’t actually fully deleted their accounts while being interviewed for this story. “It was more about freeing up space on my phone than being really intentional about leaving Snapchat,” Rebecca adds, noting that she’d just deleted Snapchat from her home screen. (If you want to go that route and delete Snapchat from your iPhone, without getting rid of your account, simply hold down the app icon until the “Edit home screen” option pops up. “Delete app” will be the bottom option, in red.)

But if you do want to be intentional about leaving the app — because you no longer want to be discoverable or because you want to protect your data — here’s how to delete your account for good:

Request Your Data

If you have any interest in downloading your data, you’ll have to do this before you delete the app. The data the app will share with you includes your search history, your locations, Memories, friends, chats, login — it basically condenses your entire Snapchat experience into a .zip file that they email to you for offline safekeeping. Head to Settings, then Download My Data and submit a request. You’ll then be emailed a link, which you can click to download your data.

Ask Snapchat To Delete Your Account

Once you get your .zip file, tap the settings gear via your profile, and then “I Need Help.” There, you can type in “delete my account,” which will bring you to a support page on your phone’s web browser. From there, you’ll have to tap on the account portal. It will prompt you to verify your login via a code they will email you. Once you’re in, under Manage My Account, you’ll see a Delete My Account button.

Screenshot via Snapchat

After you tap continue, Snapchat confirms that your account has been deleted. (In reality, your account has been deactivated for the next 30 days, after which point it will be deleted permanently.) When you quit the app and reopen it, you’ll be prompted with a login or sign up page.

How To Reactivate Your Snapchat Account

After you delete your account, you have 30 days to reactivate it without losing a single contact or Memory. Within that time frame, just log back in with your old email and password and you’ll be welcomed back to an account untouched. Note that reactivating your account might take a few hours, but you can check in with the help center if it doesn’t appear after 24 hours. If you decide you want to rejoin after 30 days, you can just create a new account and start all over.


Kristina Podnar, cybersecurity expert