Opinion: deleting online accounts should not be hard
The number of online accounts is growing for the majority of Internet users over time. Users sign-up for new services and may abandon others. Some services get sign-ups just for testing, others may be used for longer periods of time.
It is inevitable that some accounts won't be used anymore. Most users don't delete online accounts of services that they abandon, but let them sit idly instead.
There are several reasons for that, and one of the primary ones is that deleting online accounts can be painfully difficult. There is no standard procedure that users may follow; some sites may not even offer a quick delete option for user accounts. It may be necessary to contact support or even send them a Fax to get an account deleted. Even sites that make it less difficult may require some digging in the account settings or support pages to find out how the account can be deleted.
Some sites make it difficult on purpose, to retain user accounts. While investors do focus on metrics such as monthly active users or daily active users, having a large user base may still attract investors or advertisers.
Time may also play a part in the decision. The prospect of having to dig deep into a site just to find an option to delete an account, which may not exist, is often enough to deter users from even trying.
Reduce your digital footprint
Accounts leave a digital footprint, as most of them may be linked to an email address, phone number or other information that can be linked directly to a user.
While some Internet users may not care about the ever growing footprint of theirs, others do. Keeping old accounts around may also be problematic from a privacy and security point of view. Sites and services may get hacked, and data may fall into the hands of criminals who may be able to exploit it. Other parties may be interested in the data, and some of it may be outright embarrassing if it should leak.
Many Internet users use the same email address and password for their online accounts; a breach of one may result in a domino-like falling of other online accounts at the hand of the attacker.
There are also services that may be used to sign-in to others. Google, Facebook or Microsoft accounts may be used to sign-up for other services. The links need to be severed then not at the site a user signed-up for, but at the site that was used to complete the sign-up.
Online services and sites need to make it easier to close accounts. While some offer links to delete an account on their homepage, others make it harder as it should be. Right now, it may take days to delete a good number of old accounts on the Internet.
Now You: how do you handle old accounts? Keep or delete?Advertisement