Delete Online Accounts with JustDelete.Me
After reading my last two posts on tools that can be used to see how much geographic data your online presence has revealed, some readers may be interested in learning about the other side of online privacy, namely deleting information that has already been shared. The conventional wisdom amongst most people who are concerned with online privacy is that once information is published online it can never truly be deleted. This is particularly the case for some social media sites, which make it difficult if not impossible to ever delete accounts. However, even sites that do offer the option to delete accounts often make it difficult to figure out how to close or delete your account. JustDelete.Me is a new service that aims to make it easier to navigate this process.
This simple, one-page website lists over 240 different web applications and social media sites and if it doesn’t cover a site you are curious about, there is an option to submit a site for addition to JustDelete.Me through a Google form. Each site is color coded to reflect the ease with which accounts on the site can be deleted with green meaning the process is easy, yellow meaning that the process involves more effort, red meaning that you cannot fully delete your information online and black meaning that it is impossible to delete your account. Clicking on the name of the site will take you to the portion of that service’s website that allows you to delete your account or explains their deletion policy. Many of the sites listed also have the option to expand the box on the JustDelete.Me page to show more information about the process for deleting your account. While all of the sites are presented in alphabetical order, you can also use the search bar at the top of the page to more quickly navigate to specific services. The site is currently available in eight different languages and because all of the code is available on GitHub, anyone can fork the project or contribute translations to the project. In addition to this website, JustDelete.Me also offers a Chrome Extension that will alert you about deleting accounts as you navigate to various sites in your browser.
While technologically savy computer users may think that JustDelete.Me doesn’t provide any information that they couldn’t find for themselves, I actually think that this site has some great potential as a teaching tool. I could definitely see librarians or teachers using this site in a class on online security or social media to highlight the importance of understanding how much control you are giving up when you sign up for a new account or as a way of helping users to delete accounts. I also think this could be an invaluable tool for reference librarians facing questions about deleting online accounts, especially given the fact that it provides information in multiple languages. JustDelete.Me has a great deal of potential for highlighting data control and security on the web and helping social media users to maintain their online information.