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Adventures in account deletion

For the past couple of years I’ve been cleaning up my digital presence a bit by deleting accounts with services or sites I no longer use. The list is pretty long. I’ve been hanging out on the Internet now for over 20 years and have been signing up for things since I started (my Slashdot user id is less than 5 digits). My list of known accounts, both deleted and active, is about 200. There are probably more since I didn’t start keeping track until about 2007.

The act of deleting happens in fits and spurts, but there is one unsurprising constant: deletion of accounts is, in almost all cases, a lot more work than creating them.

At this point I have deleted, or attempted to delete, nearly 120 accounts. Here is a list of some observations about the process as I’ve encountered it.

As I audited my accounts I realized just how often I had to sign up for a site to do something benign, like purchase an album or make a donation. Most of my accounts are throwaway junk. A lot of them were with sites that are now defunct. My habit these days is to delete the account as soon as I accomplish whatever it is I need to do. (PayPal holds the record for shortest account so far: about a minute. The deletion process is pretty smooth, actually.)

You probably have way more accounts than you need. Regrettably, if you intend to go through your accounts and delete the detrius, expect to spend a lot of time on it.

January 20, 2019

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