Don’t look now, but you may be surrounded by zombies. Not in the real world, but out on the internet where you may have a pack of old social media and other accounts waiting to eat your identity or cause you other problems. The good news is that these zombies are pretty easy to kill if you know how to fight them.
Chances are that over the years you’ve ended up with some online accounts you’re no longer using. MySpace is still around, but Facebook became the social platform of choice. LinkedIn has outstripped Plaxo for business networking, and you can probably think of several other sites you joined at some point and then forgot. But whatever personal information you entered on those sites is still out there, waiting to bite you if there’s a data breach, an identity thief goes trolling for data, or a would-be employer stumbles onto something embarrassing from your past.
Most online sites don’t make it easy to delete your account, and they have their reasons. First, they want to impress advertisers and investors with how many users they have. Second, when you share other people’s stuff and they share yours, it creates whole lot of connections on the site that could break links if your account is deleted. Third, it’s not easy to reinstate an account if you change your mind. So some sites have a waiting period and may cancel your cancellation if you log in during the waiting period. Others will only change accounts to “inactive” rather than deleting them, and many just make it hard to figure out how to delete an account. Plus, there’s that whole challenge of “I haven’t logged in for five years and I have no idea what my password is.”
Fortunately, there are a couple of sites that smooth the process for you. The best is JustDelete.Me. The site has (1) a huge list of websites with ratings of how easy or difficult it is to delete accounts; (2) information on the deletion process, where available; and (3) links to the pages on each site where you can delete an account.
Old social media accounts may not bring about the zombie apocalypse (and besides, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has a handy guide for that) but they can cause you some real pain. So use your brain and delete them now, before someone tries to feed on you!