Friday, April 26, 2013

So About All Those Websites Where You Were Asked to Register...

This is a bit unlike my usual posts, was too long for a Facebook post, so here goes.

The other day I decided that I needed to clean up some digital clutter (i.e., delete some online accounts that I no longer used). I'm not talking about the big stuff that I find useful and where I'm a regular user/participant. I'm talking about websites you visit once or infrequently, but require you to register in order to "read the rest of the story" or order something or participate in some way. I tend to give those sites as little info as possible, but they were beginning to add up, and I decided that I'd like to get rid of some of them.

Hah! I found that while some places made it very easy to erase myself, others had absolutely no way to delete or deactivate an account (if you want to call them accounts). And while I had no important info on those accounts (no credit card or personal info), the part of me that likes to have everything tidy wanted to close things down/clean things up. Where possible, I sent emails asking to be removed, but in some cases, even clear contact info was difficult or impossible to find.

In the course of this little exercise, I ran across several references to a site called Account Killer. The name itself was a little frightening to me, but I found the site to be useful. It color codes websites by how easy it is to delete your info (and thus, serves as a way to decide whether you even want to register with a site). You can report sites that make it difficult for you and find info on how to delete your accounts.

Maybe you already knew about this. Account Killer has been around for some time, and it's been discussed on LifeHacker as far back as 2011 as well as on The New York Times, USA Today, NBC News, PC Magazine and The Atlantic. Still, it was new to me, so I thought I'd pass this info along, just in case any readers find it useful.

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