It’s been over three weeks since Rebecca, 27, last deleted TikTok. After Hurricane Ida, all the New Orleans-based hospitality worker wanted to do was “drink and see memes”; instead, her For You Page overwhelmed her with “Hurricane Tok” content.
Rebecca was among the many thousands of Americans who downloaded TikTok at the height of lockdown. At first, she enjoyed curating her feed with educational content, art criticism, and music explainers. But she soon realized that apps triggered her anxiety. She got in the habit of periodically deleting TikTok from her phone and re-downloading it when boredom struck again.
“I would delete it because I would waste time on it — I could easily scroll on TikTok for three hours,” she tells Bustle. “I’d delete it thinking I should be more productive, but then I’d think ... I deserve some fun.’ ”
While it’s easy to find someone who has long since deleted Facebook, Snapchat or Tinder, there is something about TikTok’s laser-accurate algorithm that makes it harder to let go. As a platform that deals in audiovisual content, TikTok demands a lot of attention, and time spent on TikTok is time TikTok tends to monopolize. In fact, a pitch deck leaked earlier this year revealed that the average TikTok user opens the app up to 19 times a day and spends about 89 minutes on the app total.
Some people, like Texas-based therapist Tessa Stuckey, LPC, would love nothing more than to personally help every TikTok user delete the app. In her work as a teen and children’s counselor, she often devises fade-out plans for clients who need to dramatically reduce the time they spend on TikTok. She suggests starting with baby steps so that when you finally delete TikTok, it sticks. “I have their parents set up their screen time so they can’t ignore [the alert] and [the app] shuts down.” She also suggests creating a daily routine that includes setting a curfew for time spent on social media and purposefully dedicating that time to some other fun or productive activity. Stuckey deleted her own TikTok in the middle of lockdown last year and hasn’t looked back.
Deleting TikTok Permanently Vs. Deleting The App
It’s helpful to know there are “degrees of deletion,” and there’s no rule saying you can’t keep TikTok as an entertainment backup plan for those slower nights. You can delete the app from your phone, which means your account still exists (and you can access it on other devices), but the clock app won’t pull at your fingers every time you swipe onto your home screen.
For iOS users, you delete the app from your phone by holding down the app icon and tapping the “Remove App” pop-up. You’ll be met with two choices: Remove from Home Screen and Delete App. If you remove the app from your home screen, the only thing keeping you from jumping back into Wife-Swap-Tok is your ability to swipe right to reveal your full App Library, where TikTok will be waiting for you. Tapping “Delete App” will get rid of the app from your phone entirely. For Android users, you also start with a tap and hold, then you drag the app icon over to the top left corner of your screen and “drop” it into the “Uninstall” icon. Bye-bye, Berries and Cream.
How To Delete Your TikTok Account
You can also delete your TikTok account to revoke your access for good. I created a test account to see exactly what would happen if I deleted TikTok, and the process proved to be a lot easier than, say, deleting Facebook or Tinder. With TikTok, the only option is to delete your account; you can’t pause or hide your profile like you can on other platforms.
To delete your TikTok account, go to the Profile tab on the app. Select the three-lined icon on the top right of the screen. Tap “Manage Account,” and “Delete Account” will appear at the bottom of the list of options. TikTok will ask you to input your password before you’re able to delete your account. Then, TikTok gives you a breakdown of what will happen when you delete your account: It warns you that you will lose access to your customized For You page and posts you’ve shared, and you won’t be able to get a refund for any in-app purchases. While you will lose access to likes and direct messages, those may still be visible by others.
Your account will first be deactivated for 30 days, during which time you cannot log in or otherwise access your account. After that time period’s up, your account will be permanently deleted — and all your posts along with it. You can breathe easy knowing you’ll never hear Adam Driver say “good soup” out of context ever again.
That being said, you don’t need a TikTok account in order to access content on the app. You can still go on TikTok on the web and watch videos without a profile, but deleting your account is the most final and definitive way to part ways with the app; since you can’t interact with any of the content without an account, you won’t develop a customized For You page.
TikTok may have helped you pass the time and feel connected to the world in a time where there was hardly anything better to do. But things change, and so do we. As someone who has deleted her own TikTok and helped others do the same, Stuckey says, “It takes a weight off their shoulders of feeling like they need to keep up with their TikTok account.” Because at the end of the day, it’s just an app.