Never Say Goodbye

This is an pretty old post from my blog, which has been preserved in case its content is of any interest. You might want to go back to the homepage to see some more recent stuff.

As my previous post on closing my account might indicate, I’m currently on something of an account-closing spree.

Closing online accounts seems to be a rarity these days, and more than once I’ve been asked why I bother. My reasons are pretty simple, so I suppose I care about them more than most people.

Closing a account was pretty painless. Re-enter your password for security, click a couple of confirmation buttons, and you’re done — with the slightly odd proviso that it doesn’t delete forum posts in your name. Presumably this is so that the forum archives are still readable rather than being peppered with one-sided conversations, but it does suggest that after deleting your account, there is no longer any way of removing your forum posts at all.

Not the worst offender, though, by far.

Today I tried to close an account with an old web hosting provider, 34SP. There’s no obvious way to delete your account through their admin panel, so I contacted support and was told:

Unfortunately we cannot ‘delete’ your account. We keep accounts active for our records should any future changes need to be made.

What future changes? I am leaving your service.

This is far from the first time I’ve encountered this — the internet is littered with accounts of mine that still exist only because the service provider does not provide any means to close an account, often as an actual policy rather than just a programming oversight. It’s not exactly the hardest thing to program anyway, so there should be no excuses on that front. Here’s SuccessWhale’s account deletion dialog — enter your password, click a button, and everything you ever did is permanently erased.

SuccessWhale account deletion dialog

I’m not sure when this practice came about, but it’s particularly frustrating to know that your email address and weakly-encrypted password are held by a company and there is nothing at all you can do to stop that being the case. Although the EU’s “Right to be Forgotten” by internet companies is largely unworkable and unlikely to make it anywhere near a book of law, it would be wonderful to see it demand that account deletion is actually possible.

In the mean time, I intend to stop by Terms of Service, Didn’t Read before signing up to any new online services, so I can make sure I only create accounts that I can one day choose to delete.

No right to delete account

On TOS;DR, “No right to delete account” is a worryingly common sight.


Just a quick self-comment to help anybody in a similar position to myself: I have recently discovered, which provides links or methods for closing accounts on many popular sites — and also indicates the regrettably large number of sites on which account closure is impossible.

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