Yesterday I decided it was time for me to clean up my social media presence. Not in terms of content – I only share whatever I’m comfortable everyone knowing – but in terms of the amount of websites I’m active in. It’s no secret that I’m a social media enthusiast – I’m even making it the focus of my research and Master’s thesis – so I tend to try every new thing that appeals to my many interests. Some, like Goodreads, Foodspotting, Tumblr or Flickr, I stick to and become active on, others end up not being such a great fit for me and I just don’t use them.
The thing is, I don’t always remember to deactivate or delete my accounts.
There’s nothing worse in the social media world than a dead account, specially when associated with a username others might want. Though that’s not the case for me since my name is not that usual, it’s still annoying when it happens. So I decided to go through all my accounts and delete any that I wasn’t using. Thing is, this turned out to be much more difficult than I imagined.
Some websites make it hard for you to find the “Delete” feature. This is annoying, but understandable, since you don’t want people to click it by accident and you probably feel the need to discourage them from trying to leave. But then there are those that require you to contact them by email asking for your account’s deletion. And as if that wasn’t annoying enough, there are others who require you to register on another site (usually a support site) so you can contact them and ask them to remove your account. And even worse, there are some that just don’t allow you to delete your account, for whatever reason.
I just don’t understand the logic behind this. What are these companies thinking? That if you make it difficult for people to leave, they’ll somehow start loving and using your product again? I found myself liking a website more whenever I found their “Delete Account” button, and even decided to give a couple of services one more shot only because they give you the option (bonus points if you’re cool and funny about it).
This reminds me of the time when I had to write a letter to my college’s dean asking for permission to leave Medical School. It was a formality, they said, but still compulsory. Quite puzzling. Or when my boyfriend had to make an international call to the UK to ask to deactivate his Matrix Online account (this makes sending an email not sound so bad after all).
In short, if you work in a startup or anything online that requires people to register so they can participate, please, do give your users the option to delete their accounts. It will make them feel respected and you’ll avoid having dead accounts scattered across your website. The internet says thanks.
P.S. My brother decided to also clean up his web fingerprint, read his take on the experience here.