If you've had enough of Facebook and need a break, look to its multi-step process, which is laced with plenty of opportunities to change your mind. In one step, it even displays pictures of your friends it says "will miss you" if you leave. But, according to a new website, the difficulty of abandoning Facebook pales in comparison to the difficulty of leaving other popular sites.
JustDelete.me is a new site that aims to make it easier for consumers to delete their accounts from the Internet. Robb Lewis, a U.K.-based developer, created the site after reading on Twitter how difficult it was for someone to delete a Skype account. When JustDelete.me launched a few weeks ago, it featured only 16 websites. Today, its directory lists nearly 250 websites ranging from popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to niche sites that are more obscure.
[ Some lenders use social media data to decide if your business is worthy of a loan. Read more: Social Media May Influence Your Credit Worthiness. ]
How JustDelete.me Works
JustDelete.me lists the various websites in alphabetical order and color-codes them based on how difficult they are to delete. Green denotes an easy, simple process; yellow means it requires some extra steps; red means your site cannot be fully deleted without contacting customer services; and black means your account cannot be deleted.
Bit.ly, Netflix, Pinterest, Slashdot, Wikipedia, WordPress and YouTube are among the most difficult accounts to delete. Some of these require a call to customer service, others can only be deactivated and some can't be removed at all. LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare and Google were among the easiest accounts to delete.
When you click on a service, you're automatically taken to the page where you can delete your account. JustDelete.me also has a Chrome extension that you can download to do the same thing. If the website you're trying to leave is unclear in its directions, circle back to JustDelete.me and look for the "Show info" option below the listed website for simpler directions.
Advantages And Disadvantages To A Clean Slate
Removing your presence from the Internet does have professional benefits, but users should proceed cautiously, said Gianna Scorsone, chief of staff at IT recruiting firm Mondo.
"We have two personas out there: personal and professional. Social merges these," she said in an interview. "I don't think anyone could have predicted that all these photos and comments would be out there for everyone to see. There are a lot of uncomfortable pieces in people's lives that they wouldn't choose to show their employers or coworkers."
The advantage to wiping your presence from the Internet is that you can start clean, Scorsone said. And, especially if you're in a more senior IT role, a clean slate makes it more difficult for your direct reports and team members to develop a bias about you based on your Internet persona.
But there are also disadvantages to using a tool like JustDelete.me to remove your Internet persona, especially if you're in the hunt for a new job. "There is 100% certainty that recruiters will Google you, especially in IT and especially if you're vying for a senior-level role," Scorsone said. "If you disappear, you can't stand out from the crowd. People are looking for a dynamic personality -- someone that has interests and hobbies and brings more to the table than just a skillset."
Instead, Scorsone recommends using a tool like JustDelete.me to clean up your professional image and use that as an opportunity to create the persona you want. "Now that we understand the impact of social and how it has entered our lives in every aspect, we can redo it. Wipe it clean and recreate it. That's a big advantage to professionals today," she said.
Susan Vitale, CMO of recruiting firm iCIMS, agreed. "By leaving the scene completely, you'll be left behind -- or worse yet, perceived as unprogressive by perspective employers," she said. "Not to mention, you could miss out on a great job opportunity and have a more difficult time keeping in touch with key people in your professional network. When it comes to employment opportunities, the old adage holds true, perhaps even more so in the social networking age: Who you know is as critical as what you know."
Vitale said that rather than deleting your social media presence, you should be making your presence known. "[Professionals] need a strong social media network to make the case as a well-rounded tech professional," she said. "Rather than erasing your social media profiles, you should be popping up on even more sites, especially niche networks like Quora to stay connected and show that you are part of the IT landscape."