Optimize your Facebook, Google+, and Twitter accounts

Time to spruce up your social-media accounts! If you don't know when you last changed your password, used one of your connected apps, or even logged in, then it's time to do some cleaning.

Twitter on the Galaxy Note 3 Photo by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Hopefully you're in full spring cleaning mode, because it's time to do a bit of optimization -- and possibly deletion -- on your social-media accounts. We'll start with making sure you have a recent password on your account, then unlink some unnecessary apps, and finally cut the cord on services you're no longer using.

Change your password

Even if your account has never been accessed by a third-party without your permission, doesn't mean that your current password isn't compromised. Basically, it's time to change your password that you've been using for the last three years. Facebook and Google+ will even show you how long it has been since you updated it. Let's get started:

Facebook

Reset your password on Facebook. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

In the top right-hand corner, click on the small arrow-shaped icon and select Settings. In the new area that loads, you'll see Password, followed by how long it has been since you changed yours. Click here and you'll be able to provide a new password.

Google+

Resetting your password on Google+. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Your profile image in the top right-hand corner is actually where you'll find the menu you need to access the account dashboard. Once you click it, select Account, then select the Security tab. Use the link that says Change password to enter your current and new passwords.

Twitter

Change your password on Twitter. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Click on the Settings cog in the top right-hand corner. Head to Settings > Password. You'll need to provide your current password, and then type your new password twice. Don't forget to click Save changes.

Now that you've changed all of your passwords, set a reminder to change them again in six months to one year -- depending on your preferences. This can be done with your calendar of choice, or an app that helps you get stuff done. Of course, if there's a security issue at any of these companies in the future, you may need to change your password before then. But don't forget to adjust your alert for when you need to change it again.

Unlink apps you're not using

While many apps are now offering the ability to log in with an existing social media account, that doesn't mean it should stay connected to it forever. For instance, if you tried out an app that you didn't like, but logged in with one of your accounts, it's probably time to remove its access to your information. Here's how:

Facebook

Remove apps from accessing Facebook. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Head to the Settings area and select Apps on the left-hand side of the page. A list of all apps with access to your Facebook account will appear. If you see any that you are no longer using, click the X to the right of the app. A pop-up will appear, asking if you're sure that you want to remove it, and also gives you the option to remove activity on Facebook associated with that particular app.

Google+

Edit the permissions of devices and apps on your Google account. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

On the account dashboard, click the Security tab and then click the View all link on the Account permissions info card. A list of services and devices will load. To revoke access, click the device/Web site to highlight it, and then click the Revoke access button on the right.

Twitter

Adjust which apps can link to your Twitter account. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Open the Settings menu and then click Apps in the left-hand menu. All apps with access to your account will load. To remove access for any of them, simply click the Revoke button by their name. If you click one by mistake and you have not navigated away from the page, you can click Undo Revoke to restore access.

Close abandoned accounts

After countless privacy setting changes, or complete disinterest in what a specific social network has to offer, it's likely that you're no longer logging in. If you think that you'll never return to Facebook, Google+, or Twitter, then there's no reason to keep your account active. Here's how to cut the cord with all three:

Facebook

Deleting your Facebook account. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Before deleting your account, you may want to consider clearing out some of the information you've shared and backing up photos or videos. Visit this link for how to delete your Facebook search history. To backup your data, visit the General tab of the Settings area and then click the Download a copy of your Facebook data link.

Ready to delete? You'll actually need to visit this link. The delete account option is not available through the Settings menus.

Google+

Saying goodbye to Google+. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Data backup and deletion is easy with Google+. On the account dashboard, click the Data tools tab. This is where you'll be backing up (if you choose to do so) and deleting your account. Clicking the Select data to download will allow you to choose which parts of your information you want to download from Google+. When you're ready to delete, click the Delete Google+ profile and features link. Beware, as this cannot be undone.

Twitter

Deactivating your Twitter account. Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Under the Account option in Settings, you can download all of your tweets by clicking the request your archive button. Essentially, Twitter will e-mail you a link to download your archive, and it may take a while to review the e-mail itself. Once you've downloaded your archive, you can click the link at the bottom of the page labeled Deactivate my account. According to the Twitter Support documentation, this is synonymous with deleting your account. They do stress that much of your data will still be present on search engine results if it was posted publicly.

Do you have any tips for optimizing your social media accounts? Share them in the comments.

Editors' note: It's spring cleaning time! Week's three's theme: getting optimized. Check back every day this week to see how to get the most out of your devices and services. And be sure to return next week for more spring cleaning tips and tricks.

 

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